Friday Fictioneers – “Hullo, Mr Spider”

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Hullo Mr Spider 180110

PHOTO PROMPT © Victor and Sarah Potter

“Hullo Mr Spider”

I bash the alarm clock.

Wow! That’s a big ol’ spider on the window!

“Hullo, Mr Spider.”

Any bread in the kitchen? I shift the heap of dirty plates. Nah, course not.

Telly’s on in the lounge. Mum’s wrapped up in her duvet on the floor, snorin’. Been drinkin’ vodka, I ‘spect. I open the curtains, but she don’t stir. I nick some of her takeaway. Not bad, but too spicy.

I wish she’d wash me shirt. I hate goin’ to school smelly, and gettin’ laughed at.

It’s quarter past eight – I gotta get the bus to school.

“Bye-bye, Spidey!”

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92 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – “Hullo, Mr Spider”

    • Dear Rochelle
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      It is a very bad situation. No child should be neglected like that. However, I think that as the child isn’t being beaten or abused, and is making it to school, child services, at least in the UK, probably wouldn’t get involved.
      Thank you for your nice comment about the voice.
      Shalom
      Penny

      Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Sandra
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      You’re right, it is heart-breaking, and no child should be neglected like that. However, if I’d had another fifty words, I would have brought the cacti into the story, as a metaphor that a child can survive even a drought of love. The child in the story has fed themself and made it to school on time.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I feel terrible for the child in your story, Penny. I admire his determination to go to school, taking care of himself as best as he can in the absence of a caregiver. I like the fact that the spider is a happy presence for him.
    Beautifully written, Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Magarisa
      Thank you for reading so carefully, and for your helpful comments. I’m glad to know the voice was convincing; my ear for such things is not particularly good, so it felt like a bit of a gamble. I’m glad, too, that you noticed I hadn’t specified the child’s gender. I didn’t name him/her either. That was deliberate. The child can stand for every child who is neglected.
      Thank you once again for your thoughtful feedback.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear James
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Yes, Mum should teach her child how to do the laundry, and the washing up; how to keep their room tidy and hoover the floor and do basic cooking; and all those things that most of us routinely teach our kids. The sad fact is that some mums can’t manage that. They want to do things right, but for all sorts of reasons, often complicated, they let their kids down.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful character you have created there and this is a great snippet of his/her day! Orphans/ neglected children actually make great protagonists in children’s stories as they have no parents to step in on their precarious adventures (as I’m sure you know) Harry Potter and Percy Jackson come to mind. It doesn’t have to be dark – it’s actually quite realistic- and doesn’t have be limiting! Obviously in the real world this is very sad but in fiction it can be all part of the adventure! Was this what you were aiming for?
    I think you could develop him/her Oh and a spider chum – great start!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Anna
      Thank you for reading, and for your stimulating comment.
      Do you know, I’d never considered the child as a character in a children’s story? In fact, I’ve never thought of trying my hand at a children’s story (well, apart from the ones I extemporised for my own children, of course!).
      Now you’ve got me wondering!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Susan
      Thank you for reading so thoughtfully, and for your helpful comments. Yes, I deliberately used the child’s pov and the present tense. I intended that the clash between the child’s immediate perception that this was a normal morning, and the reader’s perception that this is borderline criminal neglect, should add impact to the story.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Varad,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, this kid is a example of how resourceful we humans can be when we’re facing difficulties. People are great survivors!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  3. Oh, Penny, this hit straight to my chest! How succintly and cleverly you’ve described this. The voice is spot on – most kids in this kind of siuation have no hint of self pity, no recrimination towards a flailing parent. This is just how life is for them. I went to school with a girl whose home life was a little like this – no clean clothes, always grubby, food hit and miss, her home untidy and dirty. So spot on, so touching. I’d like to see a longer version Penny. Truly a good story

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve done a great job imparting the conditions that some children live in, whether it be from alcohol (as in this case), work, mental or other illness or just an inability to cope. That this is normal to the child chills the reader. What struck me was that his living conditions had not been picked up on as he was going to school smelly enough to be laughed at. Help should have been at hand for both the child and mother. Good story that stimulated thought on what should be done in this situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Irene
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully.
      I agree whole-heartedly that help should be available for cases like this. The sad fact is that resources are very short, and this situation isn’t bad enough for intervention. I’m glad you mentioned that help should be available for the mother too. Mental health issues lie at the base of many cases. There is also a difficulty of how you give help. You can’t coerce people into being good. I’m not saying it’s hopeless, because it isn’t. But it is difficult.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Righteousbruin9
      Thank you for reading and commenting. From your comment I suppose you worked in Child Services in some way?
      I’m sorry – in a way – that you found the account chilling. I’d hoped to convey optimism at the resilience of the human spirit as well as sorrow that some kids have it so tough. I guess your professional background makes the adverse consequences far more real to you than they are to me.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you liked the voice of the child. That sort of accent is not something I usually attempt, and I was apprehensive about it.
      You’re right – the child is making the best of a bad situation. You’re also right that I want the child to be gender unspecified – also nameless. He or she can then represent any child facing such neglect.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It shows how desperate the poor neglected child is, if all he has to talk to is a spider! Other children can be so cruel, too, all ganging up against someone who desperately needs kindness. I guess it just ain’t “cool” to be nice to a smelly child. A sad and well told story, Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Don’t you talk to spiders? I do. And cats (especially cats). And trees. Sometimes. And only the biggest trees.
      No, to be serious, talking to spiders wasn’t particularly meant to convey loneliness, although I suppose it does. It was much more that some kids talk to spiders, and it felt right for this kid’s personality to be like that. For me it feels optimistic, courageous even.
      I agree with you about the cruelty of children to the weak. They can be horrible.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Penny,
        I don’t talk to spiders, but enjoy watching them go about their business, although sometimes I exclaim out-loud about their amazing webs, especially the garden orb spiders. And my son once kept a huge house spider as a pet for a year, calling her “Charlotte”, of course!
        I do talk to my dog, all the time. She has a vast vocabulary as a consequence.
        All best wishes,
        Sarah

        Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Penny,
        My dog reads my mind sometimes, too, and acts before I’ve even moved a muscle to do whatever it is that I’ve thought of doing. Once, I thought to myself, I will wear my grey coat today when I take her out for a walk. She then rushed to the other end of the house and upstairs, then found the coat and poked it with her nose. What was particularly amazing about this was that I hadn’t worn the coat for ages and it was hanging on the back of door, mixed up with a whole load of other coats. I have lots of examples of her doing things like that, but nobody would believe it if I had a dog in a novel who did such things.
        Sarah

        Like

    • Dear Bjorn
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you love how I included the spider! I agree with you – that child will ultimately do well, but little thanks to his parents.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  6. Wow, this story spoke to me deeply of personal childhood trauma and the Itsy Bitsy Spider song. Brought back memories of the good – and not so good – times. I loved that song but not the abusive situation where we learned it. Well written slice of life and picture of someone coping.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. you grabbed a slice of culture here and it had this positive feel as we meandered the morning with this student – and I could almost taste the cold take out leftovers.
    also, I watched an award winning movie last year and a few things really disappointed – and one of them was how the impoverished children not only had clean polo shirts (um, white) but they also had clean undershirts to wear under those crispy clean school shirts. So unrealistic –
    and even in the Henrietta Lacks movie last year – there were times when clothes were too pristine or too clean –
    anyhow, as I read your piece, i wondered if maybe the child speaking would have said “she” and not “she’d” –

    I wish she wash me shirt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Prior
      Thank you for reading so carefully, and for your kind comments.
      You might well be right that the child would say “I wish she wash me shirt.” It would depend on the age, perhaps. The child is not stupid, and has attended school regularly; on the other hand, if you’ve learned slipshod speech, you don’t lose it quickly. A good point. And may I say a particular thank you for the suggestion; people are very shy of making constructive criticism of that sort, and it’s really valuable.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi – well thanks for the nice reply – and seriously – the only reason I even bounced the idea your way is that you have made it clear that you want feedback – well others have too – but this is the sense that I have gotten from you and so I felt comfy.
        also, I just was thinking how some folks always say, “I seen…”
        and so that was on my mind
        have a nice day

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You created a sad story with great visuals in so few words, Penny. BRAVO …!!!
    How many children must be under the same or harsher circumstances. As a stay at home mother when my children were growing up, I can’t imagine not walking them to the bus or driving them to school when they were older. Have the times changed to such neglect? I hope it’s isolated cases more them the norm. A story that brings out a lot for us to think about.
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Isadora
      Thank you for reading and commenting so kindly. I find it almost incomprehensible that this sort of thing goes on, but I know it does. It’s not even that uncommon. I’m glad my story has encouraged people to think about the problem.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Suzanne
      Thank you for reading, and for your very astute comment. I hadn’t thought of it before, but you’re right; the child may well take care of his/her mother in later life – and what an irony that would be!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

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