OH SUSANNA • by Mandy Nicol

At least once a month Susanna swans in with a huge bunch of flowers and makes a big show of finding a vase to put them in. Seeing as she’s the only one to ever need a vase at work I know she knows exactly where that vase is going to be. Still, with a flourish and a squeak of joy Susanna will produce it from a desk drawer or cupboard shelf then spend an excruciating twenty minutes arranging the stems just so.

This morning I saw Susanna’s tall blond husband at the train station with another tall blond beauty who I assumed was his sister, until their passionate and prolonged farewell. Susanna’s husband was far too busy fondling Blondie’s bum to notice me or my suitably raised eyebrows.

Susanna has just waltzed in from lunch nursing a magnificent bunch of dusky pink roses. “Oh, there it is,” she says after clattering around in the stationery cupboard.

I watch her arrange the buds and when she steps back to admire them I say, “They look lovely, Susanna.”

She turns to me, mouth agape. This is the first time I have acknowledged her ritual. “I’m the luckiest wife in the world,” she whispers.

Oh Susanna, I think, and I wonder if I need to tell her.

Mandy Nicol lives in rural Australia. She loves chocolate and footy and messing with words. Her stories have been published by Pure Slush.

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Rate this story:
 average 3 stars • 28 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • S Conroy

    I liked the writing style – very visual. Actually wish it had been longer, but do accept that it is a self-contained story.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Not much to grasp on to here. No one grew, no epiphany, just an observation on life piece of writing.

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    I found this unpleasantly illustrative of the contempt women often have for other women. Is Susannah really the tiresome dolt that every adjective paints her as? And while the MC might not tell poor Susannah, bet you anything she’ll be regaling her own pals with this forever. Schadenfreude’s a good word but doesn’t make for good stories. Two stars.

  • Dawn Michelle

    I would like more as well, because I do like the writing style and enjoyed the piece. It was comfortable, easy to get into, and vivid. I disagree slightly with Paul, as I think there is character growth and transformation. The narrator recognizes a new story “behind” the flowers, and therefore perceives and acts more kindly towards her co-worker.

    But, I did feel that should have been the ending of the story, rather than the narrator “wondering” if she should tell her. The ending opens it up again and weakens the narrator’s new perspective. In fact, seems to dismiss it. Just a pivot around how the narrator changes her perception of Susanna would be strong enough in a flash piece in my opinion.

    I very much enjoyed Susanna’s ritual and while there were several sentences I did like, I especially chuckled at this one “too busy fondling Blondie’s bum to notice me or my suitably raised eyebrows.”

    Best of luck on your future efforts, Mandy!

    • S Conroy

      That’s just it! It was complete, but reopening it made one (me at least) want to know a lot more about the narrator and whether she was totally reliable or has her own unique backround/perspective on things.

  • This was like an open walnut shell without the meat of the nut inside. A couple nice lines don’t make a story. There is certainly ample room to expand into a meaningful story. Saying that, the last line wasn’t needed. We get it.


  • Wanting more and getting more ain’t gonna happen. The author obviously thinks she has accomplished what she wanted to say. I do think you would have had something to take home and show if only for the last line.

  • It is sad to say that the last nine words undo the story’s impact.

    Verb tense and compound sentences distracted me as well.

  • amanda

    Simple. Sweet. Mandy, your writing made me feel that I was watching this scene. There is a common opinion among the reviewers that the MC is a woman. The story never reveals it and if you read it from a male perspective you may see it differently. I loved it.

  • Chris Antenen

    One more vote for eliminating the last sentence. She already knows the flowers are a false gesture, or that she’s sending them to herself.

    Paragraph two could use some rearrangement to lessen the awkwardness. I think reading twice should be for pleasure, not because a sentence was difficult to understand.

    The length of the piece is not a problem, but no matter how short, a story needs more than one edit session and to be read aloud. Usually, those are the ways that one finds errors in cadence and sentence construction.

    I liked the story, and I have met my own Susannas. I think there is the possibility for there to be one in every group setting, and for more than one person struggling to stay quiet about it.

  • Perhaps the MC has temporarily changed how she feels about, or how she will momentarily treat, Susannah. However, that’s really all that happens in this short piece. The writing was enough to make me want to read more, but sadly, the story ends just as I’m getting into it. Another vote for ditching the last line. Two stars. Thanks for sharing.