The Family That Stays Together

Welcome to my contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Each week, about 100 writers from around the globe respond to a photo prompt with their 100-word stories. You are welcome to play along.

This week’s photo comes to us courtesy of Doug McIlroy.

Copyright Douglas McIlroy

Copyright Douglas McIlroy

The Family That Stays Together

Family is complicated. Another almost-perfect vacation, and I’m about to come unglued. How often must we drive 20 miles off the beaten track to see some roadside attraction? I groan as my husband pulls the minivan up to a Victorian home.

“But I’m not touching you!” comes the complaint from the backseat.

“Kids, you have the rest of your lives to not touch one another. These feuding brothers haven’t spoken in 40 years.”

The yard tells the rest of the story. One side filled with ridiculous-looking folk art. The other side bare but for carefully manicured grass. It looks complicated.

33 thoughts on “The Family That Stays Together

  1. Dear Marie Gail,

    Your story brings many thoughts to my mind. My first thought was of a cross-country family vacation to Florida and back in the ’80’s with two boys in the backseat of a Datsun king cab. I still break out in cold sweats when I think of all the “fun” we had.

    I love the line, “You’ll have a the rest of your lives to not touch each other.” The way my boys squabbled I worried about their relationships when they became adults. Fortunately my fears were unfounded. They’re great friends now.

    Lovely story.



    • storydivamg says:

      I’m glad you had so many connections to my story, Rochelle. I think kids just naturally fight/argue with their siblings. It’s when grownups continue to act like five-year-olds that we have a problem.


  2. That is a tourist attraction to think upon. Do you think it was signposted on the main road?

    • storydivamg says:

      I imagine Dad discovered it in one of those colorful brochures on display in the hotel lobby. As usual, it is probably much farther off the road than indicated in the brochure and significantly smaller than Dad expected. 🙂

  3. ansumani says:

    “You’ll have a the rest of your lives to not touch each other.”- can I borrow this line please? On my next 20 mile trip 🙂

    Nicely done.

  4. I think given the situation in the back seat it was a great stop to make.. I still recall the fights I had with my sister.. especially when she bit me… but in some ways I might have deserved it…

    • storydivamg says:

      My sister and I seldom squabbled–except when we were cooped up in the car for hours. 🙂 But it does take two to tango, as they say.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  5. elmowrites says:

    Perfect scene from the family car, an I love Dad’s response. The tourist attraction sounds thoroughly intriguing too, is it real?

    • storydivamg says:

      I’m tickled that you picked up on that being Dad’s voice. I meant for it to be but realized that I never overtly stated who made that comment. Thanks!

      I seem to recall having heard something somewhere about an old family home located on one of the old highways in the U.S. One sibling loved folksy art and the other despised it, so they did strike a similar deal. I attempted only half-heartedly to find some more information on this as I posted my story, and I didn’t come up with anything. So I may have dreamed it all on a restless night in my childhood. Who knows? Still, it sounded feasible enough . . .

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  6. Ha! This is very funny . I truly enjoyed the contrasts.

  7. I’ve written about roadside attractions twice on FF and it was my first thought this time too.I am so glad I didn’t, yours was perfect!

    • storydivamg says:

      Roadside attractions are the stuff of legends! I’m so glad you enjoyed mine this week. I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity for more tales about such things in the future.

      All my best,

  8. Margaret says:

    You’re so right. Family is complicated. I love your little object lesson here.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Margaret. I will admit that in my mind the story was much more detailed and, well, more complicated. The 100-word limit spared you some of the pain behind the narrator’s thoughts, but the result of the editing seems be a story that resonates with many.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  9. draliman says:

    It sounds like the brothers at that house have very different tastes. This sounds like a typical family holiday to me – kids squabbling, unplanned detours 🙂

  10. bykimberlylynne says:

    Loved it.

  11. gahlearner says:

    Family is indeed complicated, often. I love the squabbling kids, the roadside attractions. It reminds me of trips with friends who had small children and sounds very real. And funny, too.

    • storydivamg says:

      I think some of the things that annoy us the most while they are happening end up becoming some of our most treasured memories, don’t you? Treasure days like these. You never know when you’ll wake to hear the news that your brother will never again be able to be “not touching you.”

      All my best,

      • gahlearner says:

        Yes, I think so, too. As long as these things aren’t too annoying and the kids grow out of them. 🙂

  12. Was this the Home of the Siamese Twins of Sarasota tourist attraction?

  13. This is a beautiful metaphor for family, Marie Gail. Complicated it true. I can just see it too and I remember those long car trips as a kid when the malicious sibling an inch from you keeps touching you (it was probably me sometimes). Great job.

    • storydivamg says:

      Oh how long and boring those roadtrips would have been without the malicious siblings to annoy and amuse us! I’m glad this struck a chord with you, David.


  14. Nan Falkner says:

    Marie Gail, Well done as usual – the correct order of words must come to you so easily. You are so talented! Nan

    • storydivamg says:

      Dear Nan,
      You are kind to say so. I’ll admit that I’ve always “had a way with words,” but the truth is that a lot of work goes into anything I write. It can take me 30 minutes to write a 3-sentence email. The former poet laureate of the U.S. (I’ve conveniently forgotten his name now) mentioned in a lecture I attended that he worked on each of his poems until they sounded effortless. Pretty good advice, in my book.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  15. erinleary says:

    I love this one. Family is complicated,but so worth it.

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