Friday Fictioneers – Pillars of the Community

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 - Pillars of the Community 180314

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

Pillars of the Community – revised

Diane was hostess for their fiftieth annual meal. She cooked the duck perfectly, and served a rich chocolate dessert.

She and Susan and Abigail sat late, yarning about their days as Girl Guides, and, later, as women in the Trefoil Guild. Occasionally one frowned and all fell silent.

Eventually Diane stretched.

“Shall we take our group photograph outside tonight? It’s a harvest moon.”

They posed under the moon for the photograph. Each would carry a copy until the next year, a reminder of their horror in 1967.

For the fiftieth time, they swore to keep silent about their crime.

Pillars of the Community – original

It was Diane’s turn to host their annual meal. The duck she served was perfectly cooked; the dessert was rich with chocolate.

She and Susan and Abigail sat late, yarning about their days in the Guides, first as girls and then as women in the Trefoil Guild.

Eventually Diane stretched.

“Shall we take our group photograph outside tonight? It’s a harvest moon.”

They posed under the tree for the photograph. Each would carry a copy until the next annual meal, a reminder of the events of 1967.

For the fiftieth time, they swore to keep silent about their crime.

105 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Pillars of the Community

  1. Hi Penny, this is a “stiing in the tail” story. But, while the ending comes as a surprise, it doesn’t carry a sting. I think this is because it’s so disconnected from the rest of the story. If you foreshadowed it, perhaps by mention of a secret, you’d lose the surprise, but I think the ending would have more punch

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Neil
      Thank you very much for the constructive criticism; I really appreciate the careful reading and thoughtful suggestion. I’ll try a few variants and see what happens!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

      • While Neil’s point is very valid on one side of the coin and having thought about your story here, and incorporated in my mind a few words of my own at the start to carry out his suggestion (and it works)…… I also felt like mentioning that this edition you shared also works well because we didn’t see it coming. For me, imho, it shocked more BECAUSE there was no hint of sinister earlier…. just saying 🤗
        So many readers out in the world, all loving different styles of writing. No work is ever ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ .. x

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Viola
      Thank you for your helpful comment about the shock value of the original version. I’m really grateful for your contribution to the discussion
      I can see both points of view, but I’m inclined to go with Neil’s advice. You see, one of my previous FF posts was extremely abrupt and shocking, and many readers commented. However, I think the ‘take home message’ is that I should be aware of the risk of too much shock, and be ready to deploy foreshadowing where it’s appropriate
      So I’d say that both you and Neil have helped me on this occasion. Thank you both!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The things women get up to when they get together. They seemed so pleasant with their duck and chocolate sauce. What an ending, a shock for sure, but I am not too sure. Like Neil, Penny, the vaguest hint of foreshadowing, so long as it doesn’t become a Chekov’s smoking gun, might form the slimmest of tendrils… Other than this, wonderful story and execution, as I have come to expect!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ooh, cracking last line Penny. All the way through you were showing us three normal, pleasant women – girl guides for goodness sake – then the reveal. What on earth did they do? I shudder to think. Now I’m imagining guides buried in the woods … Very well done

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Jilly
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      I expect Google told you that the Trefoil Guild is guiding for grown-ups in the UK. They have a Facebook page and everything!
      The perfect crime? Yes, I suppose it was, in the sense that they were never caught…
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  4. Well done, Penny. I agree that little addition of one of them frowning gets us to thinking why? Then at the end we get an even bigger “What the hell have they done?” moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale,
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully. I’m glad you think that the twist at the end works better in the revised version. I’m still not completely happy, and I’ve had several more attempts, but they’ve all become ‘choppy’ and lack fluency.
      Never mind – there’s always next week!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • It worked for both, frankly but definitely gives us more of a feeling of something is up in the second. I know how you feel. Sometimes I put one out there that I think “meh”…
        Have a great day!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the addition is an improvement but I’m not sure about “their horror.” Possibly move crime to that line “reminder of the crime committed in 1967.” And then a fullstop after silent. Just a thought. I thought it was a good tale and hopefully will remember to come back on Monday for the back story. I’m intrigued. Not a lot of skullduggery went on at the guide camps I attended.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Righteousbruin
      Thank you for reading and commenting. “Their horror” – certainly their acts are involved, but so are those of another. The decision to stay silent, though, is theirs alone. I’m planning to post the backstory on my blog next Monday.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Russell
      Thank you for reading and commenting. These three women are motivated by terror, guilt and a burning sense of justification – and they’ve adopted rituals and aids to memory to hold them back from confession even at moments of weakness. You probably won’t be surprised to know that none of them are married.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Neil
      Thank you so much for taking the trouble to re-read my improved version, and to confirm that it works better. I’m really grateful because if you hadn’t commented I would never have realised the flaw.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sascha
      Thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful comments.
      I agree with you that 100 word flash teaches precision in words. I’ve also found that it has taught me precision in story-telling; you need to know exactly what should be in the story, and what should not. What do you think?
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do agree with you. I think that some would be amazed at how long a person can spend tinkering over 100 words to get that balance of story-telling. I know that for me finding the precise word means that I have more room to convey the story

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Brenda
      Thank you for reading so carefully, and for your comments. Yes, they share a huge secret. They’re close friends, so they see each other frequently, but as you say, once a year they get together to remember, and to remind each other to say nothing. If you want to know what the secret is, I’m planning to post the backstory tomorrow.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Bjorn
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Each woman carries a copy of the photo with her at all times. It feels like the other two are always with her. If she’s ever tempted to tell the secret, she has the photo to remind her that the decision to tell is not hers alone, because it will also ruin her closest friends. So, in that sense yes, the photo seals the bond of silence.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

      • In fact a “bond of silence” is a good thing, although here it may be a criminal thing ( we will see tomorrow)…but essentially we all shoud have more “bond of silence” just in our mind, to keep things for us, because they can harm others….indeed we should think more about this!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for including the original version. The version you went with gives a greater sense of a gathering, and feels more subtle in it’s set-up, giving added weight to the intrigue and desire to know more of the last line.

    Liked by 1 person

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