If Chairs Could Talk

My thanks are due to Ted Strutz for this interesting picture which gave me four flash fiction stories in quick succession. Why have I chosen to publish this one? Now I am wondering what makes a story readable and worth publishing.

Photo copyright

Photo copyright: Ted Strutz

Miss Catherty realised that memories are strange things, but today of all days to remember that dreadful day her brother disappeared through the ice. For this memory to surface just as she was sitting her finial examination to qualify as a doctor – It beggared belief. Then again her drive to cure people stemmed from that terrible moment. Didn’t it?

As she looked down on the examination paper she realised that she was skating on thin ice. Just like Tom she was in danger of falling through the ice but there was no wooden branch for her. So she walked out.

Coffee and conversation at Filmore and Union

Coffee and conversation needed at Filmore and Union

This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. neilmacdon

    I’d have been interested to see the other three. I love defining moments in life, moments of choice. You might want to clean up the number of days in “today of all days to remember that dreadful day”

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Neil – I thought about posting another two stories but there are plenty of stories posted this week. As for Miss Cafferty she will qualify, but beyond that her future is unclear.

  2. Sandra

    A different take on the prompt. Enjoyed this.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Sandra – Perhaps her doubts echoed my struggle – as to which of the three story this prompt gave me I should post.

  3. Jane Dougherty

    The fragility of the human psyche…like ice.

    1. Michael Humphris

      That was my first thought when Miss Cafferty left the examination room – I love your comment, thank you.

      1. Jane Dougherty

        And I very much liked your story 🙂

        1. Michael Humphris

          Thank you Jane, it is good to get feed back.

  4. Iain Kelly

    An interesting character, there is a contradiction in her wanting to help people but than abandoning her exam, makes for a compelling take that could be developed more.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Iain. You are so right. I find myself wanting to develope this story.

  5. Dale

    Maybe she made the wrong choice for the right reasons. Unless both mesh, there are no guarantees.

    1. Michael Humphris

      She has fears as to whether she is good enough – but she is and will complete her training. I find myself wanting to develope this/her story

      1. Dale


  6. Michael Wynn

    She sounds very tormented with no support mechanism, shame she didn’t stay to complete the exam, hope she can return to it.

    1. Michael Humphris

      You are so right, she will return and complete her training. She is a character that I don’t want to let go off !

  7. granonine

    Different, and thought-provoking.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you, this story has taken a hold on me, I find myself thinking about her future!

  8. rochellewisoff

    Dear Michael,

    I find myself hoping she’ll rethink things a take the examination again. Nice take on the prompt.



    1. Michael Humphris

      Hi Rochelle. The events around Miss Cafferty’s have taken hold of me, I find myself wanting to develope her story!

  9. Clare Hempstead

    Oh no! She must go back!

    1. Michael Humphris

      She will, I already find that I have to stop myself writing more about Miss Cafferty!

  10. Siobhan McNamara

    Gosh, an interesting moment for the character – and one of clarity, I hope. No doubt there was a reason why the deeper, more intuitive workings of the mind threw up that memory at that time. Well told, Michael.
    It’s great that you got four stories from the picture – it seems to be sending people off in all sorts of directions

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you. This story has taken hold of me, in my mind I can see so much to tell about Miss Cafferty. Good and Sad. I have written notes on the other stories, but now they will have to wait.

  11. wmqcolby

    Mike, you took a simple picture and wrote a story so full of stuff. Incredible for 100 words. The metaphors work really well here. Sweet job, sir!

    1. Michael Humphris

      That’s so kind. Thank you.

  12. draliman

    She seems to need a little more time to get over her brother’s death before attempting the exam again.

    1. Christine Goodnough

      Seems a shame to waste all that med schooling — but better she should walk out now than in the middle of removing my gall bladder. 😉

      1. Michael Humphris

        That was the authors first thought to: but she will become a great doctor. However I know only too well if I was in need of medical help I would need absolute trust in my doctors. Mike

  13. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    I wonder if it was her resolution ending or the fear of failing…

    1. Michael Humphris

      Self doubt about whether she had earned the right to be a doctor: but she has and will become a great doctor.

  14. tedstrutz

    Oh. So much in this story.

    1. Michael Humphris

      That most kind, the photograph was just great and perfect for my type of muse.

  15. Fatima Fakier Deria

    Oh the fears we put in our own way. She’ll come back of course. The passion to cure people will bring her back to face that same fear again, and hopefully she’ll crush it.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Fatima You are so right: on all counts. Thank you

  16. Rowena

    Reading the comments, really brought your character to life for me. They asked more questions about why she walked away from something she wanted so much. This is something I’ve seen time and time again with my kids. My daughter loves dancing and was auditioning for the Dance Team at her Dance School. She can be quite shy, anxious and a perfectionist with at times, crippling self-doubt which can errupt in crush self-loathing under stress. All of these collided with the audition and she was refusing to go, Adamant that she didn’t want to do it anymore when I knew she was longing to. Personally, I’m glad her Mum’s a bulldozer and that I don’t let her succumb to these self-sabotaging thoughts.
    She made it into dance team and her teacher said her rendition of singing “Quiet” from Matilda have her shivers. She will be sitting for a selective school’s exam in a month and she’d better not run out!
    Yes, I definitely think you could extend this story.
    Well done!
    xx Rowena

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Rowena, to doubting oneself is to be human, I wish your daughter all the best, finding ones way in life is often challenging.

      1. Rowena

        Hi Michael,
        That issue of self-doubt is interesting. I have frequently noticed that the more you know, the less you think you know and you have that quest to fill the void.
        Then there are those who think they know it all and so many of them have such gaps.
        Our son has always been quite the know-it-all and I remember seeing these 6 year old boys all bragging to each other and so sure of their knowledge. We heard a quote on TV one night that summed it up so well: “often wrong but never in doubt”.

        1. Michael Humphris

          Thank you Rowena, frustratingly I am like Miss Cafferty – exam’s are not for me.

          1. Rowena

            I know what you mean!

  17. yarnspinnerr

    Ha! Doctors and examinations …. a life time association. Love your take.

    1. Michael Humphris

      To true, thank you Yarnspinner.

  18. The Reclining Gentleman

    Excellent use of all the elements of the pic, Michael, especially the double use of thin ice. Let’s hope her bravery is rewarded with success

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you for commenting, I believe she will do well.

  19. lingeringvisions by Dawn

    I liked your story Michael but I was distracted by the punctuation. Now I am no expert, for sure, just a hobbyist, but to me the two sentences “For this memory to surface just as she was sitting her finial examination to qualify as a doctor. It beggared belief.” should have been one, separated by a comma instead of a period.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Sorry Dawn, punctuation is my Achilles heel.

      1. lingeringvisions by Dawn

        Well, in my mind that is what we are here for; to help each other with our weaknesses and encourage each other in our strengths.

        1. Michael Humphris

          That’s appreciated, I need all the help I can get with punctuation and spelling. But I do love story telling.

          1. lingeringvisions by Dawn

            I certainly know what you mean.

  20. Amy Reese

    I think it’s better in those defining moments that the answer grabs you and you make the decision like this on the spot. Otherwise, it might take years to get to that place again. Lovely story, Michael.

    1. Michael Humphris

      I would agree, thank you for commenting. Mike

  21. Inside the Mind of Isadora

    We all have our doubts. Acting upon them is such a personal decision.
    This was an interesting take on the prompt. Well done …

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Isadora

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