Flash fiction: Unknown


I thought he was a reporter or an evangelist when I saw him through the front door glass. He was holding a book; clinging to it as if it was the thing that kept him from running away.

I put the chain on. ‘Hello?’ I said.

He was about my age, twenty-two, familiar yet unknown. ‘Is my father in?’ he said.

I was confused. ‘I’m sorry, you must have the wrong house,’ I said. He held the book up, my husband’s book, the one that made him famous.

‘Gil Coleman,’ the man said and he tapped the cover with a forefinger. ‘My father.’


This 103-word piece of flash fiction is inspired by the picture above. It’s rather a leap this week, but the idea that we don’t know what’s on that stick, led me to thinking about other things that are unknown, which led me to my story. Friday Fictioneers is an online writing group where we all write 100 words or so from a picture supplied to us weekly by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (and this week provided by Kent Bonham). You can join in here, or read other people’s stories here.


In other news, I’ve written a blog post about how I got an agent, which you might be interested to read. And my novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, is now available to pre-order from Amazon in the UK and US, and of course from your local independent bookshop (hopefully).

58 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Unknown

  1. Dear Claire,

    No disappointment here. Unknown is a perfect example of ‘seeing’ S opposed to ‘looking at.’

    It seems that Daddy has some explaining to do. Well imagined and well written as always.




    • No, it’s the narrator’s husband’s book. The husband is much older than the narrator, and it turns out he already has a child who is his wife’s age.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  2. Dear Claire,

    There is perhaps a divorce in the future for the famous Mr. Coleman. I really enjoyed this tale as I expect to enjoy your blog about how you found an agent. Your writing is how you found an agent. Well done.




  3. Wow, that’s quite a surprise for her. I like “familiar yet unknown”, as your protagonist (maybe subconsciously) sees the resemblance to her husband in this stranger (understandably as it turns out).


  4. Loved the take on prompt not being sure what’s on the stick! and very well written. Don’t see any good coming to the father or his families if he is the father that is.


  5. Great story here. Something to build on. I like the way you built up to it, with that little teaser in the third para. Considerable age gap between husband and wife. I had to reread; at first I thought he was a sibling?


  6. Great take, Claire. What a surprise for the wife. I like your clue of the stranger being familiar but unknown. Her life is now forever changed. Congrats on your book! I’m so excited for you!


  7. Wow Claire – this is great! Her husband had better come up with a good story – but if the visitor at the door was the same age as the wife, Gill hadn’t committed adultery – so this leaves an early indiscretion. Very possible. At any rate, this is excellent! Thanks! Nan 🙂


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