Flash Fiction: Pillow


I found it in the bath. I hadn’t put it there, I was sure. I hadn’t been in the bathroom since the morning, and I was alone in the house. Anyway, who puts a pillow in the bath? I bent to pick it up, and saw a grey hair curled across the cotton. Not mine, I was sure. It repelled me, like extracting a long hair from a mouthful of food. And yet it was my pillow – missing from my bed. I left it there. Every night I washed at the sink and laid my head on a rolled-up cardigan.


This is a 100-word flash fiction story inspired by the photo above. I know it seems a long way from the picture to my story, but to keep it to 100 words I had to chop out all the bits about sunlight and windows. The picture this week is supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, our Friday Fictioneers host. Click here to join in, or here to read other people’s.

Other Friday Fictioneers might like to know that I had the pleasure of meeting a long-standing fellow FF, Neil MacDonald a couple of weeks ago. It’s the first time I’ve met another FF in real life since we’re all scattered across the globe. I can attest that he’s as lovely in person as he is on the screen.


Do you look at an author’s photograph before you read the book? You’re not alone.

72 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Pillow

  1. Dear Claire,

    If I were the MC I might also be checking the locks on my door. A little spooky to think of someone coming into the house and sleeping in the bath. Wonderfully written as always.

    I often wish we could all meet in person. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few FF’rs either in person or on the Skype screen. It’s fun to put a face to the writing isn’t it?



    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this. Much mystery here, and tensely written. As a regular attendee of AA meetings, I sometimes hear stories of people who lived days in blackout. One fellow told about a photo shoot he arranged in Mexico after drinking copious amounts of tequila. He remembered none of it, but there were all these pictures. A strange sensation indeed, this unintended double life.

    Liked by 3 people

    • And I love how readers bring their own thoughts and experiences to these stories. Rochelle mentioned someone sleeping in the bath – which I hadn’t considered, and you mention alcoholic blackouts which I also hadn’t thought of as a possible reason – but really interesting, (and this little tale).


  3. Pretty cool, Claire. Mysterious and kept me thinking if maybe the lady just doesn’t remember something she actually did in a fit of, maybe dementia. Who knows? Now, if that story included something like that plus cooked a frozen pizza like they did in Geo. Harrison’s home many years ago … 😀

    Anyway, wonderful read as usual, Claire!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know what I love more – your story or everyone’s idea of what’s going on. Great job!
    I am not an easily-grossed out person but pulling a hair out of a mouthful of food, so turns my stomach!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love the mystery lingering here. I have dealt with a few people whose minds play tricks on them like this. You try to tell them, “Nobody’s going to break in just to leave a pillow in the bathtub,” but they can’t deny what they’re seeing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A clump of dog hair’s worse – trust me. And it wasn’t even my dog!
    Love your story, the air of mystery surrounding the hair and the pillow. I wondered if it was your MC’s hair, whether they’ve gone grey and almost hadn’t realised. Ageing does that to you – your mind stays 21 years old while your body … Lovely story

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderfully creepy. I once read that the scariest sound you can hear when you’re home alone is the sound of a flushing toilet. I can’t remember who said it though. I think the pillow in bath tub is right up there with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I confess that this marvellous little piece left me, like most of your other readers, with far more questions than answers. Not least the tie-in to the prompt, so thanks for clearing that one up!
    Somehow, in so few words, you get right to the heart of the most distressing elements of the human condition.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Claire – Who hasn’t had that gagging feeling of pulling a hair (from who-knows where) out of food eaten? The grey hairs are on my pillow now because the brown ones left! – Great story – so sad. You’re really good at this! Nan Claire Falkner (really is my real middle name – love yours!)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Is the protagonist suffering from some form of memory loss or dementia? At least to me, it sounds eerily like it. Oh, the possibilities within these 100 words. Beautiful writing, Claire. Cheers, Varad.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I got the feeling maybe the cardigan belonged to someone else, someone long gone who might be trying to get back. I’m probably wrong, but it’s the first impression that hit me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is scary, Claire. Someone broke into the school where I taught once and seeing my desk rifled gave me the weirdest feeling. I’d be even more frightened if I found signs of someone breaking into my home. Good writing as always. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

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