TRUTH • by Kathleen Mack

She looked out the window as the pain slipped into a distant place within her. She tried to focus on the clouds gathering. It had been months since rain. Leaves, prematurely brown, drifted slowly past the window. The clock marked the beginning of a new day.

He held her hand and wiped her brow. Grateful for the moment of stillness, he noted the time. “How much longer?” he wondered, and took a deep breath.

She squeezed his hand. “I,” she started, and then was engulfed with the pain. It grabbed her and held on. She tried to breathe and could not.

“Push!” he cried. “Push!”

She closed her eyes and with an iron will pushed with all her might. She felt herself opening. Felt the head squeezing out. Felt the sudden joy.

It took a moment before she realized that he was no longer holding her hand, that the room was silent. Cold sweat ran into the corners of her mouth. The taste of bile and salt nearly gagged her.

Then she heard the cry, and her heart responded to the sound. Beating, beating with each and every whimper.

Her eyes cleared, and she saw him. The shoulders slumped. He was standing by the window, looking out at the clouds. Turned away from her. Turned away from the baby.

She started to call to him, to beg him to tell her the baby was okay. She opened her mouth and could not bring herself to ask.

The cries were softer now. She waited. A slow and steady rain began to beat a melancholy tune against the window.

Someone handed her the baby. She marveled at him, so perfect, so beautiful. She caressed the tiny fingers, even as tears washed across them. She had been so sure, so very, very sure, but the baby’s distinctive features told the truth.


Kathleen Mack has returned to writing after an absence of 40 years. A reprint of an article on writing, “Ten Road Signs For The Beginning Writer”, recently appeared in AbsoluteWrite.com. She has published a monthly sewing column, short stories for children, fantasy, and a number of articles.   Her writing has appeared in magazines such as AARP Magazine, Popular Needlework, Farm Wife News, Bread For Children, Capper’s Weekly, Penman Magazine, Faith at Work, and others. Currently she is writing fiction just for the fun of it. She can be contacted at kmack@flash.net.


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 average 4 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • We were intrigued by the powerful emotions this piece conjures. We could really feel her pain.

    • Kathleen
      Thank you Jordan.
  • Sounds like what was done in the dark has now shown in the light.

    DJ

    • Kathleen
      True. Thanks for reading. Kathleen
  • Jim Molencupp

    Great piece. I liked the flow and how it was left open ended.

    • Kathleen
      Thank You Jim. I appreciate the feedback.
  • HvD

    Great usage of a small space. It is missing nothing and might actually lose some of its impact if it were allowed more room.

    “[W]riting fiction just for the fun of it” generally doesn’t produce such a deep piece as this. Nicely done.

    • Kathleen
      Thank you HvD. I am glad you liked it. Kathleen
  • Dotty

    Wow! Great emotion I did not know the ending that was coming during the reading of it. I can’t say that for much anymore. Glad your back to writing!

    • Kathleen
      Thanks Dotty. I've always thought that good writing should have emotion. Kathleen
  • Annie Sims

    Wow-what great emotion in each and every word, nothing wasted and everything gained. What a wonderful wordsmith!
    Annie

  • Kathleen

    Thanks Annie,

    Glad you took the time to read this and comment.

    Kathleen

  • Echoing some of the other comments, great use of limited space. It doesn’t feel rushed or crammed, like a lot of flash fiction does. You capture a single moment really well and let the rest of the story outside of that moment to the reader’s imagination. Great piece.

    • Kathleen
      Thank you. I'm glad you didn't feel it was rushed. That is always a challenge in flash fiction. I've always thought the readers imagination can often write a better story than the one you thought of. Thanks for the feedback. Kathleen
  • Shirley

    Great short story. I didn’t see the end coming. keep up the writing.

    • Kathleen
      Thank you. Glad you liked it. Kathleen
  • Tootsie McCallahan

    I love how you write. Theres just so much meaning in every word. Nothing there that doesn’t help the story.

    • Kathleen
      Thank you Tootsie, I consider that a very nice compliment. Kathleen
  • Judy Crosby

    Kathleen,

    I just read your flash fiction. It is very good and you made every word count.Great job.

    • Kathleen
      Hi Judy, Thanks so much. Glad you liked it. Kathleen
  • Becky Kajzer

    Kathleen – I really enjoyed it. It left we wanting to read more – Becky

    • Kathleen
      Thanks for reading Becky. Glad you liked it.
  • Ida Rae Wilkinson

    Kathleen ~ What a great story. No wasted words.

    • Kathleen
      Thank you Ida Ray. Glad you liked it.
  • Jim Hartley

    I’m sorry to go against all the other comments, but I JUST DON’T GET IT! I do not understand what happened here, or what the point of the story is. Apparently there is some sort of problem at the end, but I have no clue what the problem is. The story leaves me hanging in midair with an enormous “HUH????”

  • Kathleen

    Sorry Jim that you fell I left you hanging. I think the conclusion most people would come to is that the child dosen’t belong to the father – most likely another race. It could also be the story of a child who was born with some abnormality, and the father was having a hard time accepting it while the mother felt the baby was perfect. The story was meant to capture some of those emotions, not to make a point. thanks for taking the time to give me feedback.

    Kathleen

    • Gerard Demayne
      Interesting that as the author you're still willing to see several interpretations.
      • Kathleen
        Thanks Gerard. I've found in writing that my characters often insist on doing their own story, so I've learned to be flexable. Thanks for reading. Kathleen
    • Jim Hartley
      Thanks for the reply and clarification. The options you suggest did occur to me, but as I am a very "plot-centric" person, it just felt unfinished when you DIDN'T specify it. Obviously you and I have VERY different writing styles, but I guess that's what makes horse races :-)
  • Sharie

    Very good. It told the story but left me wanting more. Keep writing.

    • Kathleen
      Several people have suggested that I expand this story. I consider that a compliment. Thank you. Kathleen
  • Darlene

    I liked the story, lots of emotion and it lets the read draw their own conclusions as to what each parent saw.

    • Kathleen
      Thank you Darlene. I'm glad you liked the story. Kathleen
  • Jill Guerber

    Wow, Kathleen! What an increadible short piece; leaves you wanting more! I didn’t even know this talent of yours – way to go!!!

    • Kathleen
      Thanks Jill. See, I am more than just a pretty face. ha ha. Kathleen
  • Absolutely gut-wrenching and beautifully written.

    • Kathleen
      thank you Camille. I appreciate the compliment. Kathleen
  • Sandy Hawn

    Kathleen! Wow, so few words to convey such truth. I love picture stories and this is how I will remember the story. The picture of the man turned away from the woman and her baby. She is the one with the truth of the world in her arms. You use words in place of paint, such a talent.

  • Lyn

    Just now getting to your story – and just having read a sci-fi short, I was in “alien” mode and wondered if the “distinctive features” were reptilian! lol, good writing. Lyn

    • Kathleen
      You can never tell these days. Thanks for the comments Lyn. Kathleen
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  • Rose Gardener

    Kathleen; I have just found this and although it is now a while since you wrote it- it remains timeless in its beauty. Simple, powerful descriptions of both scene and emotion that will stay with me. I’d have given it six stars if I could. Very nice writing.