On the Road – Friday Fictioneers

Hello, darlings. Can’t promise I’m back for good at Friday Fictioneers but I’m making an effort.

So many exciting things going on with your favourite dilettante in the next couple of months, so I’ll do my best to be present while I can.

What is Friday Fictioneers, you ask? Surely you jest. (Insert plagiarized Airplane joke here).

Each week, Rochelle posts a peck of pickled pictures (or just one pretty picture, perhaps) and a plethora of people post paragraphs, parentheses, poems, prose, punctuation, personal anecdotes or complete fictions inspired by the aforementioned photograph.

The rules? Keep it under 100 words. Also, read the others. As many as you can, anyway — this a community, not just an audience for your writing.

Be kind, be not rude, and remember the words of that great sage and future tasty morsel in a pot of Hassenpfeffer, Mrs. Thumper: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say nothing at all. A double negative, to be sure, darlings, but she was an animated rabbit, and we shall not judge her grammar too harshly.

This week’s photo was brought to you by the letters J, L, & H, which belong to one Jean L. Hays, and we thank you for it.

Whenever I think of Route 66 I can’t help but think of Jack Kerouac, and Bob Dylan, and hippies, and the Yellow Brick Road — I’m an odd duck that way, but California’s a bit like OZ, calling to weary travelers and people who want to escape their dreary Mid-Western lives.

Without further ado, here is my story.


begin-the-routeJamie tore up the notice of eviction and crushed it under one ancient, torn sneaker.

“I’ll sell my stereo,”  he said, and Beth could practically hear the wheels spinning in his head. “We’ll just get in the car and take 66 all the way to California; start over.”

To Beth, the road meant arguments, screams — his burning anger. Then there would be other screams — hungry, tired, cranky screams.

Once, she’d found the fire in his eyes exciting — now she feared it would burn her world to ash.

The open road was no place to have her baby.



Now, go and read the others!




69 responses to “On the Road – Friday Fictioneers

  1. I used to listen to 10,000 Maniacs and this track all the time. Thanks for the nostalgia trip, and also for the story. I think it’s not going to end well for Jamie and Beth.

    • I used a sort of David Bowie/William S. Burroughs (in true beat poet style) technique, in that I wrote out this story in one run, and then cut and pasted sentences, moving them around into a sequence I found fitting. This line was actually the last line originally.

  2. Dear Helena,

    Imagine my delight at seeing your “face” among the squares. Love your intro as well.

    Your story is a novel in a hundred words. “Once, she’d found the fire in his eyes exciting — now she feared it would burn her world to ash.” That’s one stunner of a line.

    Wonderful writing.



  3. Stuck between a rock and a hard place. Evicted from their home, but she doesn’t want to go on the road, and a baby on the way too.
    I hope they can find some middle ground, at least until the baby is born.

  4. Dear Helena,

    Reading your story and seeing your face in the icon photos brought a shot of warmth to my heart. I miss you and cheer you on wherever you are and whatever you are up to. I hope it tingles.

    Your story was pitch perfect and full of foreboding. The voice was true to life and the life sounded fraught with the ‘no money and few options blues’. I think that few men will ever understand or walk a mile in the shoes of a pregnant woman. Their loss, too, for they could learn a lot from trying.



    • Doug,

      Lots going on here – getting geared up to publish Volume Two of the Memoirs, and have a collection of short fiction coming out later this year. I’ve been a busy dilettante.

      As someone who spent a great deal of her youth running, sometimes due to those blues you mentioned, I knew those feelings quite well, and hope they came across authentically.

      Thank you as always for your kind words.


  5. Excellent story! Now, when I think of Route 66 (and usually this is how I think of it), I think of Martin Milner and George Maharis. Yup, Tod and Buz. In fact, we watch it on Hulu. Your story could be an episode where Tod and Buz come to save Beth from Jamie 🙂

    • Someone’s story used the line “get your kicks” and twisted it to mean literal blows… can’t recall whose story, but that was just brilliant. Having traveled from Santa Monica eastward (not all the way…) I have to say the romance is somewhat overstated.

  6. What a well written Flash, Helena. It’s funny what we once found exciting later turns us off. Fire can be intriguing a beautiful to look at, but it can also burn. Excellent take on the prompt.

  7. Dear Helena
    It’s great to have you back, I’ve missed your take on life. Strange how what once attracted can eventually repel, in equal measure.
    Well written as always my friend

  8. Dear Helena, Wonderful and marvelous as usual! You have such a (quirky – and I mean this is good way) great attitude to life and it’s enjoyable! Thanks for writing! Nan 🙂

  9. So good to see you back, Helena. I hope the things keeping you buys are exciting and pleasant ones, and that you fit us in at least occasionally.
    Now, at the risk of upsetting Mrs Thumper, I’m going to admit this wasn’t my favourite of your stories ever. You had clear characters, tension and some lovely lines (burn to ash, and the way you showed Jamies naivety, for example), but I felt it lacked your usual flow.
    Just a personal opinion, though, feel free to ignore.


      • Sometimes we’re not blessed with time, Helena. I’d much rather we all felt comfortable to post our imperfect stories than feel pressured to only publish when we’re certain we’ve reached perfection (and in my case, then we’d never post at all).
        So please accept my comments as the honest but kindly-meant critique intended, not as any sort of attack on you or your writing (both of which are wonderful)

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