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Freewrite Friday: ‘Elliot’

Welcome to Freewrite Fridays!

A blog series where I share pieces of flash fiction from different perspectives of a family I’m writing!

Their stories span several decades, so each Freewrite will be dated somewhere along the timeline–and I’ll post an updated family tree with every Freewrite, to help situate the characters and timing. I’ll also be using one writing prompt from Jamie Cat Callan’s The Writer’s Toolbox, and one from the Storymatic, every time–just to make the Freewrites even freer!

Check out the Freewrites Masterlist here! (And a masterlist of Flashbacks, pieces I wrote ages ago and am now revisiting, here!)

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This month: the second in a three-part series: ‘Elliot’, with the prompts ‘the dispute escalates’ and ‘on Tuesday she asked me the most peculiar question’!

[See part one–from the POV of Elliot’s five-year-old son, Robert–here!]

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1994

Elliot

‘They change when you put a ring on it,’ Dodgy Moe told Elliot, knowingly, over the dregs of yet another pint. ‘As soon as they know they’ve got you tied down, they turn into a ball and chain.’ He made a crass comment about a different type of balls getting neglected that made Elliot snort into his own pint, then knocked his dregs back. ‘Get us another, there’s a good lad.’

Elliot wasn’t in the habit of buying other people drinks–or anything, really. It was something his wife, Jessica, had started to call ‘proof’ that he was ‘selfish’ and ‘self-centered’. And he wasn’t in the habit of funding the alcoholism of old pub regulars called ‘Dodgy Moe’, either. But Elliot had started to become a regular in this pub himself, retreating to the bar every time he and Jess had another argument; and Dodgy Moe was always there with a drunkenly sympathetic ear.

So Elliot bought him a drink–and ordered himself another, just for good measure.

If he thought better, it was only for a split-second. A split-second where Jess’s disapproving face wavered in front of him, and he thought of her, home alone, putting their son to bed, and of what might change if he went back, helped her tuck Robert in, tried to talk, refused to argue…

And then: ‘To the man of the house!’ Dodgy Moe roared, toasting Elliot with his fresh pint.

Elliot liked the sound of that. So much, he stayed exactly where he was.

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When Elliot got home—a little, truth be told, worse for wear—Jess was in a towering mood.

‘Do you even know what day it is?’ she hissed, all prim and disapproving in her mumsy dressing gown. ‘It’s a school night–how dare you come in, stumbling into doors, when Robert’s asleep?’

‘He’s a kid,’ Elliot slurred, staggering against the door frame. ‘He’ll sleep through anything.’

But Jess got even colder. ‘You don’t know the first thing about your son,’ she said, each word an icicle. ‘Sleep on the sofa tonight.’

‘Was always gonna!’ Elliot hollered after her.

But he only knew how true that was when he got into the living room, and found the sofa already set up as a bed.

He didn’t spare a thought for his five-year-old son, crying at being woken up by the scary stumbling and shouting. He didn’t spare a thought for his wife, furious at her husband, but still taking the time to make the sofa up as a bed. Elliot’s only thought was for himself, and how Dodgy Moe had called it: Elliot, the man of the house, regulated to the lumpy sofa by Jessica, a ball and chain dragging him down.

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Updated family tree!

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