Back pocket wishes

by | Mar 19, 2012 | Fiction, Flash fiction, Relationships | 8 comments

I edited this story a bit a few weeks after I posted it, so some of the comments people made in response to the earlier version might not make sense to someone reading the story and comments for the first time.

Back Pocket Wishes
By Laura McHale Holland

Sparks fly from his eyes when he passes the herd of microphone waving media. “It’s a family matter,” he growls, brushing a matinee idol curl from his forehead. His sandpaper grip wrenches his wife’s rigid wrist. Shoulders hunched, she glares at her toenails, manicured to perfection that morning.

From the chauffeured Mercedes idling at the curb, the child—conceived atop a pile of coats in a back bedroom the night her parents met—watches them approach. Her tiny fingers fumble for back pocket wishes, the simple things she yearns for but dares not show, as dread, seeping from the floor boards, soaks her mary jane shoes.


All of the episodes in this series in the order in which they were posted follow:

Back pocket wishes

Cascading to the sea

Right through the heart

Away today?

A dime a dozen

She doesn’t know them

On the seat

A pillar of the community

He needs a friend

Double rainbow

The one he always wants to hear

Give it some time

It gives my life meaning


Extenuating circumstances

 The four of us

Share this:

The Kiminee Dream: Now Available!

My new novel is coming soon. Mark your calendar!

Influenced by folklore and magical realism, The Kiminee Dream is a lyrical story with characters equally charmed and challenged while living where the ordinary and miraculous coexist seamlessly. If you like depth as well as whimsy, arresting twists, and details that rouse your senses, you’ll love what is both an eloquent exploration of acceptance and a tender tribute to the people of Illinois.


  1. Robin Leigh Morgan

    This is quite different from your usual post, and not like your last post of poetry. So without much further adieu, here’s my WEIRD feedback.

    I feel there’s A LOT of stuff going on here in this prose, and all is not what it seems to be. There’s definitely a celebrity who wants to get away from what’s happening and doesn’t want to expose his wife to those “blocking” their way to their means of escape, thier chauffered Mercedes, patiently idling at the curb awaiting their arrival.

    Their sloe gin daughter, their happiness, is waiting inside the luxury vehicle for them to arrive for a speedy getaway. Their “daughter” has been through this before, during times of celebration but those days of overflowing exuberance are gone, its ramnants still on the floor. But defiantly as they look through the car’s windows, hands behind them, standing their ground, wanting someone to approach them now with prying questions. Its past comes to haunt them, seeping through the floorboards, soaking their long gone innocence once again.

  2. admin

    Fascinating take on this story, Robin Leigh. I hope more folks share their thoughts. I’ll wait and see whether anyone else comments before I say what was going through my mind when writing the story. I’m pushing the boundaries in some ways here, realizing that the less linear and explicit a story is, the more questions arise (for me too) and the wider the door opens to all sorts of interpretations. In experimenting I need to figure out how to open that door just the right amount—a challenge indeed.

  3. Barbara Toboni

    I immediately thought of the sherriff of san francisco and his wife because it has been in the news so I thought he was an abusive husband and the little girl was afraid of him and peed on the floorboards, but then that leaves the sloe gin. It will be interesting to hear other takes on this and yours of course!

  4. admin

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Barbara. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (just suspended, I believe) was definitely on my mind when I wrote the story. I do see it as a story of domestic violence. I think with sloe gin I was trying to convey a sense of a child whose life is an uncomfortable mixture of sweet (sloe berries) and biting (gin), as well as convey that the girl was conceived at a time when her parents were inebriated and not thinking clearly about whether they should even be together, let alone conceive a child. I hadn’t really envisioned the girl having peed her pants but I can see how that would come to mind. I envisioned the dread flowing beneath the surface of her family, coming from below with the potential to envelop her entirely. I think this is similar to the way Robin Leigh sees that element of the story. In a world where sparks fly from eyes and hands weep, I figure dread can seep, lurking like a villain. I also think the child is frightened of both of her parents. I may have to explore this situation more because it piques my curiosity.

  5. wordwranglinwoman

    oooh love it!

  6. admin

    Your enthusiasm is infectious, word wranglin’ woman. Thanks!

  7. wordwranglingwoman

    Oooh, I do love back pocket wishes… really enjoyed the ‘dread soaking her mary janes’. Bravo, Laura. www

  8. admin

    Thank you, dear WWW, for appreciating the imagery in that little piece.


  1. The four of us - [...] Back pocket wishes [...]
  2. Extenuating circumstances - [...] Back pocket wishes [...]
  3. Smiles - [...] Back pocket wishes [...]
  4. It gives my life meaning: flash fiction - [...] Back pocket wishes [...]
  5. He needs a friend - [...] Back pocket wishes [...]
  6. A pillar of the community - [...] Back pocket wishes [...]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up here to receive your free copy of Just In Case

Subscribe to Laura McHale Holland’s newsletter

Thank you! Watch your inbox, your welcome email should arrive soon.