Reading Time: 3 minutes

You can never be too short.

My mother probably knew what this meant. She’s the one who used to say it.

Every day till she died.

She’d lick her thumb and smoothen my unruly eyebrows. Two swift strokes, one left, one right. And then she’d cup my cheeks in her hardened palms and stare intently into my eyes.

Her head dipping down at a forty-five degrees angle.

No, I’m not a child. I’m a twenty-three-year-old man who never grew beyond four-feet-ten.

I’d say that’s short. But my mother had her own thinking.

You can never be too short – her words of comfort. More clueless than mysterious.

And I survived on her strange words and sought refuge in her tall frame. I never walked beside her, but always behind her. It sheltered me from the awkward glances.

The whispers and the chuckles and the remarks that were not needed.

How short.

It’s a dwarf.

A clown or a midget?

Mother pretended she was deaf. I told myself I cared less. But the tall shadows on the wall mocked me, exaggerating how I could’ve been. And I wept and wept and wept.

It’s been three weeks since mother was laid to rest. I visit her grave in an oversized raincoat and six-inch heels. The new elevation makes me see the world from a decent height.

Yes, I really like it.

There’s a new bakery on the corner of Burby Street. I stop for pie and coffee. Children eat at half price. I’ll have to do away with this scraggly beard and the gigantic heels. It’ll take ten years off me. Mother would’ve said that this is cheating.

Did she consider that God cheated me? So why should I even bother.

Today’s August 26th. It’s my birthday. I carry mother in my pocket. A picture from her younger days. She was such a beauty. The bakery has a small line outside. I wonder what’s the matter.

I join at the end. A tall man turns to greet me. He says the bakery is running a father and son special. Two eat at the price of one.

I smile at a wicked thought and extend my hand towards him. He nods with a knowing look, and we shake like we mean it.

The girl at the counter looks us over. She blurts out her apprehension.

‘You don’t look like father and son.’

I whip out the picture from my pocket and explain in the shrillest voice.

‘That’s because I look like my mother.’

I now chew upon the woman’s wisdom.

Oooooh writer, you think you’re so cool. Is that what your readers think too? I doubt it!

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61 Comments on “You Can Never Be Too Short – Flash Fiction Story

  1. 😂😂that was cheating.
    I’m loving the mom, what an impact. I swear mom laughed at how short he was

  2. Love it! My mother said this to me, but that’s because I am a woman and she said men like short girls since they feel taller. I am not entirely convinced this is correct, but I do think society is bizarrely unkind to short men.

    • Oh wow. What a coincidence. These words just popped into my head.
      Your mom’s words are wise. Some men do feel more in control this way. But the shorter ones are made to feel inadequate. Not cool at all.

      • This was a fun story. The son is a pretty interesting character. You’re such a skillful writer. “I visit her grave in an oversized raincoat and six-inch heels.” That line tells us everything we need to know about him. You could have told us every detail about him, but instead you showed us how he visits a gravesite and we know exactly who he is. Really awesome!

        • Thanks so much, Tony.
          It’s a lot of fun to show a character in their true nature. Doesn’t always click sometimes, but I guess practice makes a difference. That raincoat and those heels do deliver. Haha.
          I appreciate your awesome feedback and great support! 🙂

  3. Oh, Terveen, there most definitely is a link between you and me. I wrote about being short in my blog today. Then, I get the email with your new post. Strong vibes move between India and Scotland! Love it. I am always looking forward to your stories. I can so relate to the eyebrow smoothing… and I liked your hero’s approach at the end. Use what you’ve got! Brilliant.

    • Britta, when I read your blog post today, I instantly thought of the same thing. It is uncanny. We have seemed to tap into the same brainwaves. I like that.
      Haha! Eyebrow smoothening. A mom’s got to groom her children.
      The short ones have the tallest ideas. Trust me. 🙂

  4. Awesome story, Terveen. I love the part about walking in my mother’s shadow. We all need that safety at times, especially growing up. Lovely writing, as always. 😊

    • Thank you so much, Jeff. 🙂
      Yes, there’s no safety like a mother’s love and support. She is a true guide and friend.
      Hope the week was good and the weekend is even better. Take care.

      • You’re welcome, Terveen, always. Yes, indeed, so very true, a mother is all of that. Thank you. Wishing you a lovely weekend too. 😊

  5. Hold your head high, Little Man, for there are perks to being “under-tall”, such as:

    Shorter people tend to live longer lives, the risk of cancer increases with each additional four inches of height, shorter men tend to marry less and marry later, developing longer lasting and well-considered relationships, you always have plenty of legroom, and it’s easier to maneuver through crowds.

    So there’s really no reason for you to feel like you’re coming up short.

    • These are great perks, Rhyan. A few have literally surprised me. I think short or tall are irrelevant traits. How a person feels and projects themselves is really what matters. It’s the inside that heavily reflects on the outside. Tall tales usually attract short attention spans.
      Thanks so much for your wonderful words. 🙂

      • Randy Newman may believe that short people have no reason to live but I am not in that camp. Stand tall, short people of the world!

  6. Interesting ending as always, Terveen.
    The irony associated with the line- “I carry mother in my pocket” is wonderful. I found it one of the most intriguing part of the story!

    And of-course, the humour was awesome. Thanks for sharing the story with us!

    • Thank you so much, Mayank. 🙂
      Moms and laughter should always remain a part of life. Both offer warm comfort.
      He doesn’t carry mom around for nothing.

    • Yes, a mother is a life-long partner whether physically present or not. And this guy has a lot of guts. Haha.
      Thank you so much. 🙂

  7. Nice one.
    Now I’m curious how tall you are 😉

    I’m 1.78.
    My dad is about 1.58.
    Despite a few differences in stature, we’re carbon copies.
    The clever twist in the story wouldn’t not have worked for me! hahahah

    • I’m not short or tall. Or is that just a riddle?
      I hope you are content with your height.
      And carbon copies with only a difference in height. That’s amazing.
      Yes, the twist wouldn’t have worked in this case. Haha!
      Thanks for sharing this, Matt. 🙂

  8. Great story. I don’t know whether to say I am sorry for your loss, I am of course if this is true. Enjoyed this piece very much. Thank you and have an amazing day my new friend. Hugs 🤗 Joni

    • Thanks so much, Joni. 🙂
      This is a piece of fiction, but every story has some truth to it. And we all find glimpses of our past and present selves here, there, and everywhere.
      May you have a wonderful day, dear friend.

      • You are so right about that. A piece of me is in everything I write. I wouldn’t know how to do it otherwise. Such true words. Sending hugs 🤗 dear friend. ❤️

  9. A very beautiful story. I too am a piece of my Mother and my Father. The end is brilliant. I must visit your archives and read more

  10. Yes, you are right on the point. There’s too much emphasize on a boy’s height. This is really unnecessary. It causes a lot of anxiety on boys and men. For example, Somerset Maugham was so ashamed of his own height that he was anti-social his entire life even though he was a quite successful novelist and script writer. I can still remember his “Of Human Bondage”, in which he elaborated the discrimination and the emotional turmoil he suffered from. Even his girlfriend hates him–the hatred is caused in a large part by his physical appearance.

    • People are fixated on physical appearances and they either can’t get over themselves or are too insecure to feel comfortable in their own skin. It’s unfortunate that the inner beauty and intellect of an individual is often overlooked and taken for granted.
      Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  11. Awesome story, Terveen. Lots of deep thoughts one can go through once they read these sort of stories. Great twist at the end. 🤗❤️👏

    • Yes, the twist did tower over the entire tale. I think stories progress beautifully upon emotions. Thank you so much, Diana. Means a lot. 🙂

  12. I dont know if I should feel sorry or happy about him. Poor chap but a clever one. Reminds me of Tyrion Lannister from The Game of Thrones.
    This is a very nice story Terveen. Well written.

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