In Time

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for January 16. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from Jan Fields, husband of our fearless leader, Rochelle.  My piece this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

Copyright Jan Fields

Copyright Jan Fields

In Time

For 35 years, Margaret laid an extra place for dinner. She began the habit the night Timothy left. Her husband didn’t approve. “He’s our son,” Margaret argued. “He will always be welcome.”

When she found him standing in the dining room after 35 years, tears threatened to drown her voice. “Timothy, how did you get in? I didn’t hear the bell.”

“Through the window, Grandma.” He pointed toward drapes that had been recently disturbed.

“You’re his—“

“—son. Dad died last year, wanting to come home. He couldn’t find the courage. I promised I would come and tell you.”

50 thoughts on “In Time

  1. This is such an awesome story.. the surprise after 35 years, I guess the parting had been a break, but maybe there will be some closure finally.. I try to imagine how those 35 years had been

  2. Sandra says:

    Lovely story Marie Gail. How very sad, not to know your son was dead and also that he had a son of his own. Amazing!

  3. I love the idea in this story that Margaret thought that the boy was Timothy. When I haven’t seen someone for a long time I always expect them to look the same and I’m often shocked (although I try not to show it) when they’re older. (I’m sure they’re thinking the same about me.) I like the fact that it’s as though Margaret hasn’t noticed that she’s got so much older.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Claire. It is true that time can catch us by surprise when we see it on another’s face. I am preparing for my 20th college reunion and well aware that there will be many such surprises there.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  4. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    Sad, and a bit disturbing, to be honest. Still, the story hit me.

  5. paulmclem says:

    Nice idea, well written. Being honest, I’m not clear why the Tim’s son came through the window and not the door. Had me wondering whether he was in fact a ghost/vision.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much for reading and weighing in. There was a reason for the “dramatic” entrance, but it got chopped in the edit to fit this into 100 words. As to the ghost/vision bit–that’s one place that I wanted some readers to go. Thank you for complying. 🙂 There is so much possibility here–as there is in the fine photo this week. I think I’ll just leave it at that.

      Thanks again!

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  6. I like the way you indicated that Timothy’s son, who seems to also be named Timothy, looks just like him. That would be a bit disconcerting, to say the least, but hopefully in a happy way. Not sure why he came in through the window, though.


    • storydivamg says:

      Ah . . . that window bit. Well, the reason got cut, but I was hoping readers would be able to come up with reasons on their own. Paul came up with one possibility–Timothy as a vision. There are others. 🙂

      As to the name, yes, this is Timothy, Jr. in name as well as appearance.

      Thanks for reading!

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  7. Dear Marie Gail,

    Window confusion aside (it’s a long window…maybe it happened to be open 😉 ) this is a lovely, sad and poignant story.



  8. I liked the story and was also wondering about the window entrance, but as you said there are many ways this could go. I think it added drama to the story otherwise she would have to meet him at the door. Coming through the window makes it much more interesting.

  9. draliman says:

    A lovely and sad story. I like that she mistook her grandson for Timothy, as she remembered Timothy at the age he left and expected him to still look the same.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much. Although I have never had a child or other loved one walk out of my life this dramatically, I have met people from my past whose children looked exactly the way I remember my friend. It always confuses me for a minute or three before I catch up with time. I’m sure many others have had this experience.


  10. Prickling in my eyes, I tell you. Well done.

  11. BrainRants says:

    Sad, perhaps, but hopeful in that perhaps the son learned from the errors of the dead father.

  12. What a clever surprise, followed by such bad news. Nicely done.

  13. wildbilbo says:

    It’s a well written, lovely story, but I can’t figure out why he climbed through the window…

    • storydivamg says:

      Ah, yes, the window conundrum. If I do a rewrite to clear this up, I’ll be sure to post it for you all to read. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it anyway.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  14. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Marie,

    An eerie and unsettling story. Families and their tangled web of love and loss are such good grist for the writer’s mill, aren’t they. Well done.



    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Doug.

      Yes, families provide us with all the best and the worst things in life, it seems. Mine certainly rises to the occasion frequently enough. Fortunately, this particular tale is entirely concocted from my imagination. I don’t think I could handle being on either end of this series of events.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  15. MrBinks says:

    Nicely told.

  16. Margaret says:

    It’s good that their sn was thinking of them at the end, and good that their grandson carried out the reconciliation for his father. A beautiful story of loss and grief, but also hopefulness and love.

  17. Your ending surprised me. Well done! I feel sad and hopeful for Margaret, but, like some others, I do wonder if she is seeing a ghost. I do hope he is real, for her sake.

  18. rgayer55 says:

    I liked the story, Marie Gail, but in truth, Margaret should have expected that her son to be 35 years older and the young look-a-like to be her son’s ghost or an intruder. I’m thinking her response might have been somewhat different.

    • storydivamg says:

      I guess we all have our own experiences, Russell. Thanks for sharing yours.

      I do have to ask, have you never anticipated a reunion with a long-lost friend or loved one only to be surprised by their age or at first glance confuse a son or daughter for the one you haven’t seen in several decades? This happens to me more and more as I reunite with classmates. If I see their offspring before I recognize them, I almost always do a double take. I would imagine this to be even more the case for a mother who has spent 35 years dreaming about the return of a son.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  19. erinleary says:

    Nicely done – a lot of story packed into those few words. The open window is a good catch. – I didn’t see it until after I’d written mine.

  20. Sarah Ann says:

    I’m not sure climbing in through the window is a good start, but at least he’s there to set her mind at rest. And this leaves lots for the reader to think about – why did the son go etc? Well done.

  21. This was something that could very well happen. It would be a shock, but also joyful in a way. She now gets to know her grandson. All those wasted years, what a shame. Well done, Marie Gail. — Suzanne

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Suzanne. I have a friend who messaged me privately yesterday to tell me she liked the story but hadnt commented because it hit too close to home. I pray her ending is happier than this one.

      Marie Gail

  22. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Marie Gail, I love your story and it is so bittersweet! You really are a good author! I love your stories! Nan 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      Aw, thanks, Nan! You made my day! We really need to have a KC-area Fictioneers get-together sometime. I’d love to have you over for tea or coffee (or wine, if we make it an evening gathering).

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  23. Dee says:

    I thought he was going to be a ghost…
    How sad it must be for families like this one, never to know what happens to the child that leaves home. In this case, Margaret has her grandson and chance to get to know him. Well done

  24. I was stumbling around your site and found this treasure. I like it.

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