21 December 2012

Published December 19, 2012 by rochellewisoff

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers. If you’re looking for an entertaining respite from malls, crowds and holiday shopping and you’re a writer, you’ve come to the right place. 

We are a growing global community of blogging writers founded by Madison Woods. Each week the challenge is to write a one hundred word flash fiction or a poem inspired by the photo prompt. The rules are as follows:

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  • My story follows the photo prompt for those who would rather write before reading other stories. I appreciate your comments and critiques. 😉
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This week’s photo comes from Scott Vannatter 

Copyright-Scott L. Vannatter

Copyright-Scott L. Vannatter

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Like the anguished images that flashed across our television, Friday, November 22, 1963 will ever be etched into my memory in black and white.

Walter Cronkite wept on camera.

The nation mourned.

Dazed, Mom sorted Christmas ornaments at the kitchen table and mumbled empty phrases. Dad dropped to his knees, laid his head in her lap and sobbed.

“He was my hero!” I screamed.

My eleven-year-old world spun out and I kicked at the two faceless uniforms.

Their vacuous condolences pelted me like the bullets that killed my big brother in Vietnam.


I’ll never forgive Mr. Kennedy.

85 comments on “21 December 2012

  • Dear Rochelle,

    I got goose bumps from reading this. It is a great tale, doubly sad, yet worth the read. I remember that day well and your story captured the President’s death and then with a grim twist and a visceral kick in the gut, one of the other deaths whose tide was beginning to swell.

    A loving little sister’s worst nightmare. Your story casts a long shadow.




  • Powerful memory, Rochelle. I was old enough to remember that time when our hearts wept and our lives went dark. Your last line kicked me in the gut…considering how much the entire world grieved and loved Kennedy. Wonder if that last line should have been directed toward his successor instead.


  • Not what I was expecting. Double reason to remember that date. did you get this the minute you saw the photo? I do hope it was fiction.

    I see the Wednesday Fictioneers are hot out of the gate… Maybe I can get some ideas for Scott’s cat.


  • it’s a shame that the words “shades of gray” have been so strongly associated with an entertaining but poorly written book series. once i read those words, i was unfairly distracted to wonder if there was going to be a connection, but of course there wasn’t, but once you’re distracted, you’re distracted.

    i’m curious if you thought about that or if you assumed we could look past it. maybe it’s a poor reflection of my psyche, but that’s what happened to me.

    of course, afterward, there is no change in the impact of all the other 97 words. well done.


    • Dear Rich,
      To tell the truth I was blissfully ignorant of that unfortunate connection until another friend brought it to my attention. I’m sorry it distracted you. It does, however, make me seriously consider changing shades of gray to black and white. But then I wonder if that’s distracting to do in midstream.


      • oh, you have nothing to apologize for. and changing it now won’t be distracting because the people who haven’t read won’t know it was changed. unless they read the comments first, which i don’t think anyone does. but what do i know?


              • Didn’t hear about that one… but I had a friend whose parents bought a color tv… first on the block, and everyone would crowd their front room to watch Bonanza every week. I watched the whole Kennedy thing in b & w, including good ole Jack Ruby… I was rehearsing for a play when we heard the news about JFK and had to drive the director home, as his wife was distraught… it was an unreal few days…


                • My aunt and uncle had one of the first color TV’s. We thought it was something special even though the colors were all over the place…lots of ghosts.
                  I was in the fifth grade coming in from recess when our teacher rushed into the room, turned on the class TV and said, “The President’s been shot.” From that moment on the world did turn to black and white as the news cast consumed us.


              • We lived in the bottom of a valley and were lucky to get three stations if the sky was clear and the wind blowing from the right direction. Watching TV was like peering through a snowstorm in hopes of seeing Matt Dillion gun down the bad guy between lulls in the storm. For some reason the reception always got better when commercials came on.


  • Rocks! Love it! I have tears in my eyes. I just flashed back to 2nd grade at St. Mary’s. The nuns were all crying and us little ones were praying.


  • Wow. Very moving piece. There’s something in the loss of a sibling. The connection goes beyond life and death, and I agree with the comment above, there are so many emotions that are experienced at a time such as this. Each person reacting differently than the person next to them. Well done. Applause.


  • Where in the world did that come from? You say it’s fiction but I’m sure for some out there it is indeed fact! I was 15 and remember the event all too well. It brought back everything in a rush and I thought you might end up comparing and/or contrasting with last week’s shooting. Great job. Now you’ve got me thinking…


    • Dear Paul,
      Historical fiction. Some of it does come from my own memory, ie the assassination and my memories in black and white.
      I was ten years old, in fifth grade. That night I spent the night with my best friend. I don’t remember the TV ever being turned off that entire weekend.
      Thanks for the compliment.


  • I was only three years old close to four. I remember the crying and bells ringing in the street. I remember my aunt taking me to the store and buying me a record album of his speeches for $1.00. A sad day in history in a gentler world.


  • I think I felt like you – it was in seeing our parents reaction to it that made it such a powerful and scary event. Well done – love that you got all that from this photo.

    Still having trouble with the InLinkz link – it takes me to a blank page… Here is mine. http://wp.me/p1Wqon-dN

    Will try to post it again from another computer.


  • I thought it was masterful writing, with a real kick that shows a very different perspective on a world-renowned event. I’m sure there was a family somewhere going through exactly this, and they probably did indeed blame Kennedy. I’m surprised some of your commenters would doubt that.
    My favourite line is the description of the Mom. Just gut-wrenching.
    I have no idea how this connects to the photo prompt – so much so that I wondered if I was reading the right post – but I don’t think that matters; the prompt is just a prompt anyway, so if this is where it led you, more gold for your readers.


    • Dear Jen,
      Since you’ve shared your process let me share a bit of mine.
      First thought…kitchen looks dated. Very 60’s. What happened in the 60’s? Kennedy assassination. Had the first part but then felt I needed a catastrophic event in the life of the MC to eclipse it.
      As I pondered this in conversation with dear friend and muse, he, with his vast historical knowledge, put the tool in my hand. Big brother was an American advisor in Vietnam. I’ve included an historical link in my comment to Lora.
      To me the prompt is a hint not necessarily an illustration. So the only reference to the photo is that Mom is sorting Christmas ornaments at the kitchen table. She was probably doing this when the soldiers arrived with the bad news.


      • Fantastic. thank you so much for sharing you process – I find everyone’s different methods interesting. And I quite agree that the photo doesn’t have to be an illustration – although for mine it’s a necessary one this week – I was just intrigued how you got from a to b


  • Hi Rochelle,
    Interesting that you went another way with this. This will date me, but Nov. 22, 1963 is a day I will never forget. I was a senior in high school and was in chemistry class when the news of the assassination reached us. I got in trouble for cursing out loud. Yeah, I was already fouled mouthed in high school. Anyway, glad you marked this historic and tragic event with your story. Happy solstice! Ron


  • I thought it was real (maybe you loosing a brother in Vietnam, or something), but didn’t know so hope that part is fiction because you told it well and was very convincing. Wayne and I were both sophomores in high school that day of his death. I was in ‘study hall’. The world went into shock and the media took no breaks from the story, much like this last horrible shooting has caused.


    • Dear Joyce,
      Thanks for your comments. It was a dark place in US history. My one and only sibling, my brother is very much alive. While he was in the Air Force during Vietnam, thankfully he wasn’t sent there. Aside from the obvious, this piece is fiction.


    • Dear Dorian,
      Condolences are never welcome when offered by uniformed harbingers of death. I’ll never forget the night, visiting my in-laws when two men in uniform showed up on the doorstep to inform us that my husband’s brother had died overseas. It’s a horrid feeling. The sad looks on their faces and knowing why they’re there the minute you open the door.
      Thanks you for your comments.


  • I have to say I’m taken aback by how real this seems. I, unlike so many above, am (fortunate) to have been born much after the events of Kennedy’s death…and hope never to have to endure that form of sorrow – However, it will be what it will be. Way to reach into a “youngster’s” heart and make me travel through time!

    Love it. Love it. Love it. Emotion in writing makes me giddy (sad,happy,mad,glad…you name it). I enjoy writing that can move me.


    • Dear Tony,
      Thank you for your kind words. It was an emotional piece for me to write. Like the character I was close to that age. Ten and a half at the time. I remember the weekend so clearly. A very surreal part of childhood when one learns the darker side of life. Happily the rest is fiction.


  • WHOA, NELLY! Ya NAILED it! Even though I was freshly 2 years old at the time, I remember very vividly Kennedy’s face all over the papers. BTW, Kennedy actually DID send some troops in, so you primed the pump on that one.

    I LOVE the economical writing. Potent! Absolutely.

    PS. I think the comments are just as entertaining, too! 😀


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