The Dishrag by Melissa McEwen

All the women on my mother’s side are superstitious. They won’t whistle or open umbrellas in the house. They’re always knocking on wood and crossing their fingers. I just laugh at them, but after today, I… let me start from the beginning. My aunt May-Helen has been staying with me since she left her boyfriend Willie. She said, “Willie’s the kinda man that could jus’ look at ya and scare ya.” But he did more than look at her on the day she left and came knocking on my door in the middle of the night. She told me she called the cops because he held a knife to her throat, but he was gone before the cops came and she was gone before Willie came back. This was months ago; we haven’t seen or heard from Willie since. But this morning, when Aunt May-Helen was washing dishes, she screamed so loud I thought I’d see Willie in the kitchen when I ran downstairs, but all I saw was aunt May-Helen knocking on all the wood she could find. I thought Auntie had lost her mind. I asked her what happened and she looked at the dropped dishrag, then looked at me. She said, “The dishrag fell! D’you know what that means? A visitor! I had a dream ’bout Willie, too. He’s comin’ after me!” And, oh, how we jumped when we heard knocking on the backdoor, but it was Hazel from across the street wanting a cup of flour.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “The Dishrag by Melissa McEwen

  1. inventive. got really manic at the end, which was great. my favorite part was the dishrag dropping.

  2. Great characters, and it’s a rich field you’ve created with the suggestion of this particular legion of female family. It would be wonderful to hear more of their stories, and no doubt they have reams of them. I love this vivid image of May-Helen knocking on all the wood she can find. Juxtapositions of threat and humor, superstition and coincidence are terrific. You never know, do you?

  3. You’ve taken a simple situation and had some dark fun with it! Nicely done!

  4. Melissa McEwen

    Thanks for the comments, y’all.

  5. Kim Hutchinson

    Whew! That was me exhaling a sigh of relief at the end. Tension was great, and so is the humor.

  6. Nice gripping tension that built toward the end of this piece. I would love to see more of May-Helen in future stories, or any of your “relatives.” They all seem so complex, as we all are.

  7. guy

    I envy your ability to have your stories unfold through relationships. These move along with the tension from family & sexual bonds. And in less than 250 words. Nice.

  8. AH, this made me smile! Great stuff, per usual, with your wacky entourage of characters. Peace…

  9. Melissa

    Aw thanks y’all.

  10. Michael Parker

    Melissa, this is a grand, cleverly crafted piece. Had me on the edge of my seat and holdin’ my breath! Willie comes for her in the end, eventually, doesn’t he! I mean, the sixth sense that some people have about things, especially about people they meet, how they can read em like a book…yep, I believe in it. At least, you convinced me that I do! Utterly convincing. Great work here!

    • Melissa

      Thanks Michael and yes if this story was longer, Willie woulda got her in the end. I was going to make it Willie at the door, but I couldn’t do it in 250 words or left so I changed it around and got another story all together.

  11. Pingback: Week #41 – Coincidence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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