I never signed

by | Jul 13, 2012 | Fiction, Flash fiction | 12 comments

I Never Signed by Laura McHale Holland

Here’s a new story that is not part of the connected flash fiction experiment. It’s just one of those ideas I had to pursue. I’m posting this from my iPad, so the formatting might be a little odd.

It’s them. Poking. Sneering. Surrounding me. Telling me to get to work. There’s a ream of flyers to fold, for starters.

I always imagined when I went toward the white light that Mom, Uncle Earl and Little Bandy, Grandpapa and Scoot –and my friends from later years, like Billy and Mae, who died way too young — all of them, I thought, would be waiting. I was going to see each one emerge from a white mist of sweetness and impart wisdom to me as I wended into whatever this place beyond life is. But my loved ones are not here. I’m at the end of the brilliant white tunnel, but the ones here greeting me are dregs I’d pushed way out of my mind.

I snuck away from them just before dawn more than forty years ago. One paper Safeway bag of belongings. That’s all I carried, heading anywhere but where I was. I thought I’d found the answer. Human happiness. Love empowering. I shriveled instead under the weight of menial tasks. Long days, long nights. Repetition. Repetition. Defection, forbidden. If they caught you leaving, they locked you in the boiler room.

Some creep grabs my arm. I think his name is Gus, but after all these years, I can’t be sure. “You signed a contract,” he says. “You’re ours for eternity.” I know that isn’t true. I never signed a contract. They started that signing folderol just before I split. They hadn’t worked their way down to me yet.

Gus yanks me  toward a door. Opens it. Ah, the boiler room. Hot. He tries to push me in. I kick. Kick him in the groin. Push him in. “You won’t get me,” I declare. And spin away. Far away. Away.

Behind, gnashing teeth. Ahead, Mom’s hand.


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. Anthony Pires

    Life after death is always an interesting topic.

  2. admin

    Thanks for your comment, Anthony. I haven’t explored the topic much in my writing. It does seem full of possibilities.

  3. Jerry Kohut

    mom to the rescue.

  4. Nancy LaTurner

    I hope you continue exploring the many possibilities! Loved your use of “wended,” by the way.

  5. admin

    Thanks, Nancy. I was happy when wended popped into my mind. Words are little gifts.

  6. admin


  7. Wordwranglingwoman

    Like it. Great ending line. Gave me a shiver. P

  8. Barbara Toboni

    Thank goodness for mom’s hand at the end or is it the end? I liked the word folderol.

  9. Susan

    Okay, mom to the rescue (Jer), but … just where is mom? : )

  10. admin

    Thanks! You communicated quite a bit in only nine words, dear P.

  11. admin

    Thanks, Barbara. I think this is just a one episode story. I worried that folderol might stand out too much as possibly a word that character might not say, but then decided it was okay. Glad you like it!

  12. admin

    Thanks for the comment, Sue. I like that you addressed Jerry, too. We’ll see if he responds. I imagine Mom is right where she’s supposed to be to guide him on his way, but then what happens next is totally open to readers’ interpretation. It could be the protagonist won’t quite make it to her. Each of us can decide for ourselves what’s likely to happen next.

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.