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By Matthew FrommPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - April 2024
37
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Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

His parents old cuckoo clock chimed its ridiculous song. It had hung there since they closed the estate all those years ago, chiming away every hour on the hour.

Five PM. There was something fitting about that—a cruel twist of irony that Tolkien or any other writers collecting dust on his nightstand could make a profound observation on. For him, it marked a division, a separation, like stepping out of his dreadful old office and back into the real world.

Yeah, it was precisely that. He was stepping across the threshold of his old life and into an entirely new one. There was something religious in that, though he had never had much time for thoughts of the Almighty. Another thing those dusty authors likely had a comment on.

He clenched the envelope in his hands, fresh from the mailbox and tattooed with letters that some marketing major had designed to be clean and professional but also hip. Despite everything, he could not help smiling at the notion of some wide-eyed intern pitching the idea to an administrative board while in jeans and a logo t-shirt, using words like “synergy” and “disruption” to a room of stuffy suits and mahogany.

The humor left as quickly as it came. A single breath of hope, if even that, leaving nothing but the crushing weight of the envelope in his hands. In some ways, it was the same as holding his kids when they breathed their first breaths. He could understand yet never articulate how such tiny things could carry a density Einstein could only dream of.

He dug a finger under the adhesive and tore it.

The papers slid to the ground, face down.

He stooped down and grabbed them, noticing for the first time how much his hands trembled. How many sleepless nights had he spent thinking through this exact scenario? A hundred? A thousand? It had seemed constant since that single, all-encompassing, and crushing word entered his life.

How would the kids do without him?

How would she?

Would she move on?

Had she already?

Was this all a curse?

What did he do to deserve this?

Sure, had he been perfect? No. Who could be?

A new thought grasped him. He could just…not look. Throw these cursed papers in the trash and let come what may.

Foolish, stupid. Childish really. That would solve nothing, and he was not a child anymore.

But damn, what he would give to have his biggest problem be getting the wrong toy in his Happy Meal.

He readied himself despite the shaking in his hands. He would look, and then attack whatever came next head-on. He’d be better. If it were better news than he expected, even if it was not great news, he’d be better—time to face it like a man.

And that was the worst part: even if the news was good, news better than even his most optimistic dreams could conjure, he would be…changed. The afterbirth of stepping into this new reality, he knew, would be immune to washing.

An hour seemed to pass as he stared at the blank white page in his hands. Shit, for all he knew, it could have been a decade. At this point, had this not already taken a decade from him?

He looked at the old cuckoo clock. It was funny; he had never missed his parents like he did right now. As the adage said, you never really knew what you had till it was gone, or at least maybe about to be gone.

The minute hand of the old cuckoo clock slid over to a minute past five.

He turned the papers over.

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A/N:

If you've enjoyed this, please leave a like and an insight below. If you really enjoyed this, tips to fuel my coffee addiction are always appreciated. All formatting is designed for desktops. All my works can be found below:

Short StoryStream of Consciousnessfamily
37

About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to write it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wishing to be found.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (22)

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  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Flamance @ lit.about a month ago

    Great job congratulations

  • Abdul Qayyumabout a month ago

    Your writing is incredibly engaging and vivid! I felt like I was right there in the scene alongside the characters." https://vocal.media/fiction/the-time-traveling-plumber

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Terrific fictional family story!!! Congratulations on Top Story too!°💕❤️

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

    Hurray! Back for the best of reasons! Congrats, Matt. Great story!

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    Beautiful entry. I could feel his tension while holding the letter. Of course, my curiosity is piqued, but the ending was perfect. Congrats on the TS.

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Congratulations on your top story! Well earned!

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    This was in the top candidates for winning the challenge in my opinion extremely well paced and great characterization done here, congratulations on your top story

  • Mariann Carrollabout a month ago

    This was very suspenseful, congratulations on Top story !!!

  • JBazabout a month ago

    you kept the secret going, and left us wondering what this could possibly be. Well done Congratulations

  • D. D. Leeabout a month ago

    And now I need a follow of what the letters said. Good work. Congrats on T.S.!

  • Caroline Cravenabout a month ago

    Beautifully written. What a fab top story.

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Congrats on TS.

  • Ali SPabout a month ago

    This was a great piece and I loved the originality. Congrats on TS!

  • The Writer about a month ago

    Congratulations 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Congratulations on Top Story! Excellent entry! And “wrong toy in the happy meal” brings back so many memories!

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

    ...and his life changed forever. It surely can happen in a minute. Great entry, Matt!

  • Patrick M. Ohanaabout a month ago

    A very good one. Good luck in the Challenge!

  • Shirley Belkabout a month ago

    This was great!!!

  • Stephanie Hoogstadabout a month ago

    This really had my heart racing, and that ending was such a cliffhanger! So much is said in such a short period of this character’s life. Very well done.

  • Hannah Mooreabout a month ago

    This is excellent. Perceptive, tense, both hopeful and despairing.

  • Daphsamabout a month ago

    Beautifully written

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