Friday Fictioneers – A Second Chance

ff190214Dull, metallic thuds of the heavy school bell signal it is time. All week long, talk had been about the meeting – what folks would say, how they would vote.

The facts were clear: Joey Jackson had torched the derelict Mulligan place – cost him five years over at Ravenhall County. Joey now wanted to come back to town, make good – still claims he never knew anyone was inside at the time.  Some believe him, Judge and Jury weren’t sure.

As order is called the unmistakable hubbub of heated debate begins to drift out into the warm evening air. Across the playing field a scruffy haired kid sits alone on the swings, waiting and hoping.


These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge.

26 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – A Second Chance

  1. claireful

    He could be Joey’s child (I gather from your comment to Helena that’s what you intended) but I Iike the ambiguity that he could be a child of someone who died in the Mulligan place and he’s hoping Joey isn’t allowed back.
    One minor thought – I wonder if your very first line should be in present tense to match the ending?

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Cheers, Claire. The first line was present tense to start with but I changed it. Think what I had in mind was that the last paragraph was the point of narration (i.e. where the story is being told from) and the bits before had happened slightly earlier. Tried that sort of thing before, not sure if it always works. Appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thanks!

  2. sustainabilitea

    I agree with Claire about the possibility of the child being the dead person, although I originally felt he was Joey’s child. I found the tense change a bit jarring. I think if you’d changed only the last paragraph, I would have felt what you were trying to do. But you changed in the middle of the second paragraph and that grated slightly for me. And then this sentence, “Some believe him, Judge and Jury weren’t sure”, has both.


    1. paulmclem Post author

      Thanks for taking the time to comment so fully. I like the idea of changing tenses but I accept it can seem strange at times. The phrase you highlighted is meant to reflect current opinion and that of the judge during the case i.e. present and past in one phrase. Aye, it’s all a bit funky but I love to try things in these short stories. Some work, some don’t, but I’ll keep trying. Cheers!

      1. paulmclem Post author

        No probs – I’m happy to take the chance to explain my scribblings. Have to admit I’m not a fully paid up member of the grammar police. I do try to punctuate and spell correctly but other than that if it sounds right I go with it. Thanks again for your comments, much appreciated.

  3. nina nakamura

    Such a startlingly poignant shift from the main story of Joey to a whole other story of his child. It was quite cinematic for me – literally a panning of the camera zooming in to a whole other point of view. Really well done!

    1. paulmclem Post author

      The kid is his son, hoping his Dad can come home. However, you could also read it as a relative (or indeed ghost) of the fire’s victim. I’ll leave it up to you 🙂

  4. storydivamg

    This is a beautifully woven tale. I love the end. I agree with Claire that the piece would be stronger if you begin in present tense. JMHO, of course.

    Marie Gail

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Cheers, Marie. Yes, on reflection it should be present tense in the first paragraph. It was to start with, but for some reason I changed it. Think I had imagined a relatively lengthy time period between the bell starting to ring and the meeting being called to order. However, in reality the gap would never have been great enough to define the whole story as occurring in anything other the present tense. I have changed it and agree it’s the way I should have left it. I like the idea of changing tense but as others have said the action was too close together to justify the change in this instance.

      Really appreciate your thoughts, as well as everyone elses. Enjoyed doing this piece and it’s been great to get such interesting and helpful feedback.



  5. rochellewisoff

    Dear Paul,

    The child did throw me off some. But from the comments I surmise that he’s Joey’s son? A good take on the prompt, nonetheless. Friday Fictioneers is a great place for exploration and experimentation in writing. 😉



    1. paulmclem Post author

      Rochelle, my plan was for a father/son sort of tale. Subtle, but I think it’s fun to stretch people’s imaginations where possible. Less people may like, or indeed get, some of my stories moving forward but it’s time to start pushing the creativity envelope 🙂

  6. siobhanmcnamara

    Nicely told – I loved the shift in focus at the end.
    I gather from other comments that the child was Joey’s son, but I like that this isn’t stated in the story. It is enough to know that he has his own reason for waiting for the outcome of the meeting.


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