Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ali carried the tray to his grandmother’s room. The boy was only seven years old, but he shouldered the responsibility of his mother’s mother like a grown man.

But were grown men afraid of their own shadows?

The wooden staircase wound like a serpent ascending to the second floor of the stone cottage. But Ali thought of it as the pit of hell. Though many would say hell lay beneath and not above.

The smell hit the boy just as he placed his bare foot on the tenth stair. The pungent odor was a mix of oils, medicines, herbs, and impending death. But the old woman seemed to be clinging to life with a stubborn and defiant will.

Her shriveled body and twisted mind resembled nothing human. Ali was sure that his grandmother was a witch who practiced black magic. At the oddest hour of the night, when all were asleep, the old woman would rise from her bed and chant spells, drink potions.

This was his little secret and it toyed with his mind every time he paid his grandmother a visit. She must be feasting on toads and bat wings, washing it down with the blood of rats. Ali had noticed a decrease in their number. Though his mother insisted it was the work of the rat poison.

The boy’s thoughts deserted him as he reached the door of his grandmother’s room. Cowards…he muttered under his breath, left alone to face the aged woman. But he was courageous. His mother often called him – her brave man.

Ali nudged the door open with his elbow. The darkness jumped out to grab him. But he would not show any sign of weakness. His feet felt their way towards the foot of his grandmother’s bed. He lay the tray down and listened.

His ears were sharp, but they picked up nothing. The usual rhythm of raspy breaths was missing. He listened harder. There was no guttural gurgling of thickened spit. And the odd moan and cry was replaced by the still quiet. It was refreshing.

The boy found the stick he hid under the bed and poked the misshapen lump on the bed. There was no reaction, no movement, no sound. He then beat the woman harder. Each blow landing on sick and diseased flesh. But still nothing. It was over.

Ali’s grandmother was dead. Her dark ways would no longer haunt him. The boy cried heartily, joy and sorrow flowed from his eyes. He turned on the light and through the blur of his tears, he saw the foamy vomit. It covered his grandmother’s mouth and chin and the pillow under her head.

He knew the rat poison would destroy the witch. He had fed her a large dose in a can of peaches. She was greedy and had slurped down the last bit. Ali would now wait for his mother to return home. It would be difficult to break the sad news to her.

But he was the man of the house. No job was above or beyond him.

He’s lost his phone. They want to help him, but they need his number. Only one thought now eludes him – What’s My Mobile Number?

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65 Comments on “The Man of the House – Flash Fiction Story

    • Thank you so much, John. There’s a thin line that divides the good and bad inside us. Not all is as it seems. 🙂

  1. The ending shocked. You worked on building an innocent character for the first few paras and then suddenly he did the unthinkable. Very well written!

    • A young boy and the perils of an impressionable mind. Ali led me along and I followed. It was all his doing.
      Thank you so much, Deepak! 🙂

    • Nice story, Terveen! Gotta get rid of those rats. Even the really old ones. I like how he pokes his grandmother with a stick. It couldn’t be any more non personal. I also liked how you referred to the still quiet of death as refreshing. That’s when you know you really don’t like someone. Awesome job!

      • Thanks so much, Tony. The poor kid was up over his head and it made him crack. Don’t know who to blame in this. But the grandmother checked out. It makes you wonder what boils under that innocent surface.
        I guess it was either the kid or the grandmother. The fitter one survived.
        Your feedback is always so good and satisfying. Awesome!

  2. It’s a harrowing story rather he acted out on purpose or on instinct. Now, will they see the bruises or check the peach cans? So much going on! Well written story!

    • I sort of feel sorry for the young boy. Made to shoulder responsibility he’s not ready for. I think Ali had no bad intentions. His young, imaginative mind concocted the image of a witch, and then it was downhill for the grandmother. The mother might just refuse to see the obvious.
      Thanks so much for your insightful inputs. 🙂

  3. Comment 2 since 1 disappeared again. Sigh!
    Loved the twist. This was a good read. Glad to see you back with your murderous ways 😀

  4. I really love this story and the way you give your flash fiction an unexpected twist. I will certainly not forget this one. Great work!

    • Who would expect a tiny mind to swerve like that? It’s really dark. Thank you so much, Britta. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

    • It scared me a bit too. Makes one look at kids differently.
      Thank you so much, Katie. I appreciate your wonderful comment. 🙂

  5. Ah! Of course. I am always so tempted to scroll to the end of the story, yet always maintain my composure so I can enjoy every ounce of your lovely story telling, Terveen. Wonderfully done. 😊

    • Thanks so much! I appreciate it.
      Yes often we rush towards the ending. Just have to find out. I’m glad you took your time to get there. This means a lot to a writer. 🙂

      • Indeed. Me too. You’re most welcome, Terveen. How funny that my comment was marked anonymous…hahaha. Have a great week! 😊

        • I tried to sort out this problem with WordPress. They said that it may be that the comment submitter isn’t logged in to WordPress. But thank you for still commenting. I knew it was you. 🙂

  6. Wow, that’s a dark story, almost Stephen King like. Actually I know a true story, from the newspaper, that a young boy about 10 years of age killed his relatives when he was punished due to his poor grades.

    • I love Stephen King’s writing. Makes you want to pick up a knife and sway. Haha!
      There are such real life incidents. What are the reasons behind them? Is there any justification? Or are criminals just born? Cant say. But abuse is often a catalyst in many gruesome incidents.

  7. Pingback: Those Evil Mirrors - Flash Fiction Story | It Ain't Right Till I Write

  8. Grandmothers always get such a bad rap. Just because an old woman loves peaches, does that make her a horrible person? Did her lifeless form deserve to get beaten into mulch by an under-the-bed-stick? I think not.

    This young lad may be the man of the house but perhaps he should have brushed up on the ancient folklore of grandmothers, for now he will forever be plagued by the sickly sweet stench of rotting peaches and his food will be tainted with with just enough rat poison to cause his health to decline over an excruciatingly long period of time.

    Or maybe she was just one of the normal grandmothers who deserved what she got and everything will be just fine. One never knows with these things.

    • ‘Or maybe she was just one of the normal grandmothers who deserved what she got and everything will be just fine’.

      Am I evil for laughing so hard at this?
      Hey Granny, you know what, you deserve to die. Okay. Bye-bye.

      I guess the little guy didn’t think through his decision. Probably a little careless with his first murder. But time will be the real test of his killer inclination. Or maybe it was just an odd, one-off murder. The kind that just blends into the background and becomes a tasteless joke.

      You know what, my grandmother was such a pain that I poisoned her. *silence*
      Gotcha! Haha!

      Thanks so much, Rhyan, for all the beautiful comments. They mean a lot! 🙂

  9. It wasn’t entirely shocking but reminded me that we should be careful what we teach our children. Well written and it mostly kept me in the dark until he laid the tray down on the bed, the whacking with the stick was a shock more than the rat poison.

    • We often take it for granted that children think and feel like we do. They are unique individuals with impressionable minds. They soak up their surroundings like sponges. It’s sad that some break down along the way.
      The whacking with the stick was quite dark.
      Thank you so much, Brenda. 🙂

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