Sunday, May 6, 2012

MFF#2: A Sudden Farewell by Dixie Barnes

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challenge! Every story (600 words max) begins with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.

Mothers worldwide can relate to this story by Dixie Barnes. How many of you have said goodbye to a son who's leaving for the military? Perhaps it went something like this:

A Sudden Farewell

I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.  I know every mother understands that eventually her son will be graduating from high school and leaving for college, a job, or the military.  But it’s something you tend to pull a Scarlett O’Hara about.  Just like in Gone With The Wind, I always pushed that thought to the back of my mind with the thought “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”  Somehow, tomorrow never came.

So, when Brady got up one bright summer morning and came downstairs for breakfast, and announced that he was taking a job in California and would be leaving in two days, I was blindsided.  My mouth dropped open.  My heart started racing, and my knees were shaking.  I grabbed the back of the nearest chair to support myself until I was able to sit down.  I felt the beginnings of a pounding headache.  I know I turned pale, because Brady ran over to me and put a hand on my arm.

“Oh my God, Mom, are you ok?”  Brady quickly got a glass of water and offered it to me to drink.  He sat down in the chair next to mine and gave me a hug.  I stared at him with eyes wide and moist.  I nodded.

“Yes, I’m ok…I think,” I stammered.  “When did this all come about?  I thought you were going to college next fall.”

“Yeah, well, I was planning to, but I got a call from this job recruiter for a demolitions crew.  They go around imploding all those old bridges and buildings.  You know, Mom, like we watched on tv last week.  They demolish a lot of the old Las Vegas casinos that way.”

“Uh.  Isn’t that pretty dangerous, Brady? No, I don’t think this is a good idea at all.  You need a college education.  I think you’d better stick with the original plan to go to K-State this fall.  Demolitions is very risky.”

“Not if you know what you’re doing.  They will train me to do it right.  They make awesome money, Mom.  After I’ve worked there a while, I will go back to school and study engineering, like I talked about before.”

I sat, staring at my son, like he was someone I barely knew.  I realized at that moment that my son was no longer the little baby or the little boy I once cradled in my lap. 

I patted Brady’s cheek and reached for him with both arms, hugging him as tightly as I could.  “So, what are you going to need?  Should we go shopping? 

“Whoa, Mom!” Brady laughed, holding up his hands to ward off any more questions.  “I think I’m ok with the clothes, and the company has the tools. The only thing I’d like to do is…”  Brady looked at me, unsure of himself suddenly.

“Yes?  What is it, son?”

“Well, I was wondering if I could have a few of my friends over for a quick party.  Nothing fancy.  But I want to tell them all goodbye before I leave.  I was thinking maybe just some sandwiches, cookies, and some tea or something.  I know you’re busy, but could we do that before I leave?” 

“I think that would be a wonderful idea, Brady.  You need to say your goodbyes to your friends.  You make some phone calls while I run to the store for sandwich supplies and cookies.”  I grinned and hugged him again so he wouldn’t see my tears. "My baby’s all grown up to be a man. Oh Good Lord, what next?” 

Dixie Barnes is a registered nurse who dreams of writing and illustrating children’s books. She lives in Kansas with her husband of over forty years, and two Shih Tzu dogs.  She loves spending time with her three children and nine grandchildren. She mentors the F2K Free Writing Fiction class in Writer’s Village University and writes fiction, including YA novels and short stories, essays, and poetry, which she posts on her blog Living Fossil Images at  She paints in watercolors and oils, and enjoys working in colored pencil.


  1. Great Post! Love the Scarelett O'Hara comment. My your son return home safe and sound to you

    1. My two sons both live within fourteen miles of me with their spouses. The oldest has four children. They both drive trucks around the country, so we do go sometimes a month or more without seeing them, but we are still close by phone. Thanks for the well wishes. This was a purely fictional story.

  2. Thanks for offering this opportunity to showcase some of my writing. While this was a fictional piece, it parallels a similar scene in real life in which my son announced he had joined the Marines and would be leaving for boot camp. A mother's nightmare.

    1. I'm so happy you shared it here. I can't imagine how hard that would be as a mother. My baby's only 4 and I don't care if he lives here until he's 40 :)

  3. What a lovely story beginning! You drew me right in… My son is 11, and I can't imagine what it will be like when he leaves the nest...

  4. My heart pinged -- roused memories (never far below the surface) of challenges with my own son. Beautifully composed


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