Wednesday Write-In #69

This week’s words for CAKE.shortandsweet’s Wednesday Write-In were:

monkey see :: attraction :: solid :: complete :: whisper

And here’s what I made of them…



More Than You Can Chew

It’s at moments like this that James wonders how he ever felt any attraction toward the woman who calls herself his wife. On all fours beside him, her hair askew, she looks like that nineteenth-century dragon carving he’d finally managed to flog, for a fraction of its cost price, a few years before. She even has the teeth, and everything.

‘It’s monkey see, monkey do with that child!’ she says, in a hoarse whisper. ‘He sees you cramming everything around you into your mouth, so of course he’s going to do the same!’

‘Just shut up and keep looking, will you? Greg’s barely eating solid food yet. I don’t see how, or why, he’d shove a jade figurine into his gullet.’

‘Well, I’m telling you,’ she says, sitting up onto her knees. ‘I’m telling you, that’s where it is. We need to get him to hospital, right now.’

James’ eyes fall on their son, gurgling happily in his high chair. His gummy grin beams across the room and he waves one chubby, grubby hand at his mum and dad who are, as far as he’s concerned, playing a very funny game. What a complete idiot! flashes across James’ mind, and immediately, he hates himself for thinking it. He blows his son a kiss, making the little boy dance with joy.

‘That figurine is worth more than our car,’ he murmurs to his wife, keeping his eyes on his son. He imagines a green glow sliding down into Greg’s stomach, working its way through his intestines, ever-so-slowly squeezing its way round corners on its long, long journey. God knows what state it’ll be in by the time it comes out.

‘All the more reason for getting him seen by a doctor, now,’ she grumbles, rolling to her feet with fluid ease. ‘Who’s a good boy!’ he hears her say as she nears the high chair, making Greg crow with pleasure. ‘Who’s the best boy? Come on, now, darling. Let’s go for a ride in the car! Yes? Come on.’ Greg stretches and bucks against his restraints as his mother starts to unstrap him.

‘I’ll go and get the keys,’ James mumbles, getting up off the floor with as much grace as a dying elephant. His knees and hips and ankles click and creak, and his heart races as he straightens himself. ‘See you outside.’

Grace is too preoccupied with the baby to reply. Honestly. You’d think I wasn’t even here, James thinks, swallowing a mouthful of acid. I’d like to see you keep this roof over our heads without me! He turns on his heel and makes for the hallway, grabbing the keys as he goes. Jasper is lying in his basket by the radiator, as always.

‘Hello, old man,’ murmurs James, risking a crouch. His knees pop again, and he balances himself against the wall as he rubs the dog’s greying head. Jasper looks up with eyes like two lost souls, feebly licking his chops. ‘We’ll be back soon, once this ridiculousness has been dealt with.’ James’ fingers lose themselves in Jasper’s dark, silky coat.

‘Get up,’ snaps Grace, suddenly appearing behind him, a quizzical Greg in her arms. ‘Or have you forgotten we have a sick child?’ She strides past him, yanking the front door open and leaving it to smack against the wall.

James turns back to Jasper, biting back his anger.

‘Don’t look so mournful, old friend. I won’t be long. When I’m back, we’ll go for our constitutional, right? Me and you, two men alone.’ He leans down and presses his face against the top of Jasper’s bony head. ‘Look after everything until we’re back.’

James gets to his feet, slowly, and follows his wife and son out the door. Jasper’s eyes follow his master, full of silent pleading. He takes another painful swallow as he watches James lock the door, and as he hears the car’s engine roar away. He flops his head back on his paws and tries to breathe.

It had looked like such a tasty treat, you see. Such a lovely colour, and the perfect size for nibbling. Jasper coughs, feebly, and closes his eyes against the pain.




10 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-In #69

  1. Elaine McKay

    Oh, no! That last line is so sad. The image of the two lost souls works perfectly. What a picture you paint with this husband and wife, brilliant characterisation. You just have so much detail in there, and it all seems so effortless. Well done.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks so much! I’m glad when I can hit the ‘right’ note with my characters, especially in a flash piece. I really appreciate this feedback. 🙂

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author


      I must clearly be a bloodthirsty freak, because it never even occurred to me that Jasper could bury it, instead of eating it. Whoops…

      Thanks for the feedback – I’ll try to be more unpredictable next time. 😉

      1. Kate Curtis

        Yeah! Bring in a vampire! Ooh, wait. A squirrel! Or a vortex is created around the jade figurine and takes Jasper on a adventure…

        Unpredictable is tricky in a short space of words, particularly when you trying to keep your tale real. Even with the deceptively chipper winking icon, I hope you’re not being too hard on yourself – you won’t always surprise us readers, but I’m certain you’ll continue to amaze us. 😀

      2. SJ O'Hart Post author

        A dog-eating squirrel! *Gets Hollywood on the phone*

        All I really wanted to do with the story was write something surrounding the idea of ‘eating/swallowing too much’ (James does it, too!) and show James’ last strut of support being removed from him. So, I guess I achieved that. Thanks for the feedback – I really appreciate it, and I also appreciate your kind words. If I can entertain a few readers, let alone amaze them, I think I’ll be happy enough. 🙂 Remembering to keep the material fresh and the reader surprised is very important, though, and it can be a struggle for me. So, thank you. x

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks – I hope Jasper survives, too, because he’s a very handsome dog indeed. However, it doesn’t look good.

      Thanks so much for your kind comment. 🙂

  2. emmaleene

    Aw poor Jasper & James- they’ve both bit off more than they can chew! I agree great characterization- you have a gift for it- even his wife who seems like a right b**ch has redeeming qualities people can relate to- she’s a stressed out mother& her child’s welfare is her priority! You could write lots more with these characters- I know I’d be interested! It’s funny because last week when I saw the prompts I thought of a story about a dog swallowing an engagement ring but didn’t get to write it!

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Haha! That’s funny. Perhaps I read your mind – spoooky!

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m glad the characterisation seems to have worked well this week, and that you had a bit of sympathy for the wife. I feel sorry for her, too, a bit. 🙂


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