For a Moment, Sam.

Photo credit: Madison Woods

I hadn’t been there in decades. Now I’m sitting with a letter from her attorney—one I didn’t know she had.

I know what’s within this envelope bearing my other name. Its scrolled tattoos marched in unassuming lines.

The violation infuriates me. I never wanted to be found. I want to shred the damn thing, but my fingers tear it open instead.

I don’t look at the rusted, nightmare truck and barbed fence what’s scar I wear.

On the back is scrawled:

‘I believe you now. My ashes will be inside to atone.’

I burn the photograph.

Ashes to ashes.

72 responses to “For a Moment, Sam.

    • Thanks, Madison. I’m pretty sure I know what the rest of the story is, but I’m not sure if I’m going to expand on it here, or elsewhere, yet. So mystery it shall remain…for the moment.

  1. Oh man, I liked this. Running from a past, an ugly one. The emotions I felt were hurt and some anger as I read this (but perhaps I’m overreaching there). Obviously the attempt to atone was not well received. I love how you can say so much in so few words. Nice work. :)

  2. I got really sad undertones from this. I imagined a wife who’d realised she’d not accepted the truth about him. Really good voice. Well done.

    • LOL Craig, you always manage to pin down the line or two I fight really hard to keep in the story intact. I cut and cut and cut and modified JUST to keep that line.

    • LOL Craig, you always manage to pin down the line or two I fight really hard to keep in the story intact. I cut and cut and cut and modified JUST to keep that line.

  3. “Ashes to Ashes”… This is a bitter story of hurt and betrayal.
    Very intense and dark. Touches powerful human emotions…
    I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing…


  4. I’m going to have to read this again,becuase on first run-through I found it confusing to tell exactly what was going on. I definitely got strong emotions – guilt and anger – but the details are going to need another go.

      • Well, Quill, I came back and also read all the comments. Everyone else seems as stumped as I am though. What I’m getting is below ([potential spoiler warning for other commenters]) with some of my thoughts in brackets:

        Man gets a letter from his wife. Inside (this isn’t clear) is another envelope, containing a photograph (bit of a leap of faith, I thought at first he was really there) of a truck that has some dark secret for him.

        Part of the secret is that he changed his name, before he met his wife. Now someone has found him out and told his wife. The wife’s (presumably, although this is not clear from the text) response is that she now believes something he’d told her, which she didn’t before. She is going to somehow kill herself and leave her ashes in the truck (huge leap of faith that it’s the wife saying this, not the mysterious other person).

        The man’s response is to burn the photo of the truck.

        Overall, like I said, I loved the emotion of the piece, but I think you needed a few more pointers for readers to understand this. Even the explanation above leaves a lot unanswered, which is fine, but it was too hard for me to get to even this level of understanding. For example, I think the “its scrolled tattoos” line is in the wrong tense (march instead of marched) but I’m not sure!

        Sorry if this come across as negative, I hope it’s not too demoralising to read!

      • Not at all too negative. I think this story was a case of just “Too much story; too few words.” I think I will expand it sometime during the week to it’s more natural length which will clarify all the niggles. *pinky swear.* I had to cut far too much from this one.

  5. I like the idea of this story – and your often obliquely beautiful way of rendering your tales, but I have a problem with this line: “nightmare truck and barbed fence what’s scar I wear.”
    It just doesn’t work and jars against the other writing. It’s the “what’s scar I wear”. Can’t get it to work, can you?

    • Hi Lindaura,

      I juxtaposed the line there with the rest of the piece so that it stood out with a spitting sound in the mind (ear.) However, had I had two more word, it would have read, “I don’t look at the photo: the nightmare truck, and barbed fence what’s scars I wear.” I’d chosen ‘wear’ instead of ‘bear’ because at the time ‘bear’ was in my rough draft. If I were to go back, I might swap it in. I’m not sure. But in my permanent files the above sentence is how it reads: 2 words over 100.

  6. When I don’t understand a story, I re-read it. Then look for insight from other comments. This one seems to have us all flummuxed…reaching for straws. Even your replies have me confused. The writing is beautiful…just needs clarity. Maybe it’s the late hour and my migraine. Here’s mine:

    • I completely understand. And I’ve already made the decision to keep this as is, but also write a revision copy (which will most likely be another hundred words longer) as soon as I can.

    • I’m definitely following up on this one with a longer version as soon as I have a spare…hour or two? This story just did not want to be contained and I think I learned my lesson trying to shoehorn it in.

    • Thanks, Jan.

      I’m considering merging this with another story that is floating around in my mind, but it is just under consideration at the moment. I really like this piece as well.

  7. Really intriguing take on the prompt, Rinn. Sounds like old wounds have been ripped open once more. Would love to see more if you decide to expand on this.

  8. Pingback: For a Moment, Sam (Revision) « Quill Shiv·

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