With the Black Smoke Following

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly blog link-up based on a photo prompt. The Challenge – write a one hundred word story that has a beginning, middle, and end. (No one will be ostracized for going a few words over the count.) The Key – make every word count. Up to the challenge? Join in


The life I left was in flames. Our war waged behind closed doors with cuts and bruises concealed with clothing and makeup, stories and lies. Once I was defeated he took us farther south, and we left Atlanta in ruins with the black smoke following. Then, in the first moment he let down his guard, I ran five states north. There I remained for two years, until the fires crested and crashed, then I returned to Atlanta as one returns home after the smoldering fires, having nothing left to burn, have smothered themselves and the only choice is to rebuild.


100 words. Narrative nonfiction. This is an adapted excerpt of a longer piece I recently submitted for consideration for publication (Wish me luck!). I knew this piece would fit very well with the photograph, but choosing only 100 of the 875 words was a tough one. I hope I’ve captured the essence of the fire metaphor portion of the story. Should it be published, I’ll share the link here. Should I receive a rejection letter, I’ll post the story in full here.

Feedback is always appreciated. Comments of any kind, really–so long as they are related to the post.

What story comes to mind when you see that picture? Join in


*Featured and Post Image Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

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43 thoughts on “With the Black Smoke Following

    • Thanks Carrie! I’ll share their decision here. I’m hoping for acceptance, but at this point, for me, it’s more about learning to submit than getting published.


  1. I thought of Gone With The Wind here, but it’s nothing like that, which is good. There’s a character here I’d like to get to know more, especially about the fighting on the inside. Good contrasts.

    Wonderful, Melanie!


    • Thank you!
      You aren’t too far off with the Gone With The Wind thought. The opening sequence was written with an intentional allusion to Sherman’s March to the Sea.
      You are also correct that there is more to the story. I am that character, and my story couldn’t in any which possible way be summed up in 100 words. 100 chapters perhaps. 🙂 I used to write more about it (on a different blog), but my ex liked to read it and so I stopped.


  2. Definitely a north-south feel to this, whether intentional or not, and the abuse comes through clearly as does the metaphor of fire. The last sentence leaves me wondering why she would return and maybe that’s where more words would help explain. All the best with the publishing effort!



    • Thank you Janet!
      The north-south was intentional. The last sentence does lead into the return – the reasons for and the benefits of it – and that’s really what the story is about.


  3. A story many couples might recognize themselves in. Abused and battered…it reminds me of that song, “When Sunny Came Home”, by Shawn Colvin….one Sunny burned the house down herself. ;-). Well done


    • Thank you Grace. That is a great song.
      Too many, I think, might see themselves behind those same closed doors. It’s a sad and terrible thing.


    • That part of it isn’t really detailed in the story. I was in Missouri with the kids when a judge ordered custody to my ex, who was still living in Florida. Atlanta is where I found work, and it put me in the middle of my family and my kids, so I took the job and moved as close to the kids as I could get at the time.


  4. I’m glad I read the comments so I wouldn’t look like a ‘tard for asking if you’d alluded to history and W.T. Sherman. I picked up on that, but you made it quite clear this was more personal and not at all historical in nature. Excellent.


    • Thank you Dee.
      Life has a way of bringing itself full circle from home, away, and back home again. Want had little to do with it, but rather need.


  5. Pingback: Courting Flesh and Blood | This Is My Corn

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