This week's Fiction Friday prompt: “My husband doesn’t know, but he will soon.”

"Okay come on, out with it."

Sheena glances at Olwyn. Her smile barely makes it across the table.

"Now, don't tell me there's nothing wrong. We've been meeting together every week for the last eighteen months and today you don't even seem to know who I am."

The same nervous smile. The same hesitation. She opens up her bag and fishes out a letter, placing it on the table in front of her. Olwyn frowns but waits. It seems to require a tremendous act of will for Sheena to push the letter across the table. Olwyn picks it up just as the waitress brings a second pot of tea. She reads it through twice.

"I see what you mean. Does John know about this?"

"No, but he soon will. We're having dinner with Phil and Bev on Saturday. Besides, there'll be a public announcement next week at the latest."

"Is this going to hurt John's career?"

"I don't see how it can. But it'll be awfully embarassing and..." Her voice fails her. She fishes in her bag for a handkerchief but has to make do with the gold crested serviette sitting on the table.

"I... I just don't know how he's going to take it. John's given more than his career to the institute. It's become his obsession. And he never forced Phil; not a bit. But only I know how proud he was when Phil started to follow in his footsteps. He took him to all the debates. Every meal time one argument or other would be demolished alongside whatever was on the plate. And he did all he could to help Phil in his studies. He spent ages combing the bookstores for Christmas and birthdays... that's what all his royalties went on. Anything he could do, he did. But he never used his influence to get him anywhere. Phil wouldn't have let him, not that he ever wanted to. And the day Phil received his PhD he cried buckets before and after the ceremony."

"So won't he be proud of Phil's achievement? They may be on opposing sides but..."

"Opposing sides! Do you know what this means? Phil will be the lead speaker at next month's congress debate. They're bound to pick him. They won't miss a publicity coup like this. Father and son at each other's academic throat. It'll be the death of John. After all he's done."

Sheena bursts into tears. Not even the serviette can alleviate her distress. Olwyn helps her out into the street and they hail a taxi. As they pass the Swan Hotel, Olwyn looks out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of John on his way to their rendezvous as a tear trickles down her cheek.


I had to read this over twice to grasp the fullness of what was happening. It is obvious that there is a tight relationship between father and son. That is being used for gain by placing the two against one another in debate.

It is interesting, I'd love to see where the story goes after the debate and how their relationship handles it.

Thanks for the read.

30 April 2010 at 14:48  

You get such an insight into the relationship between father and son without knowing much about the speakers. Wonderfully crafted. It has given me something to think about as a technique and skill. Thanks Paul.

30 April 2010 at 16:20  

Nice hook -- I'm geared up to see the big debate now! It's a very interesting twist on the prompt.

30 April 2010 at 23:26  

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