Friday Fictioneers: Pecked To Death

It’s Friday Fictioneers, my favorite post each week. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields runs this band of merry writers, and offers a weekly photo prompt. Using the photo for inspiration, participants are asked to write a 99 word story, with a beginning, middle and end. It’s a wonderful challenge with lots of interesting outcomes. Check out other participants here.

My story this week is 100 words, exactly. The title comes from an African saying, that I’ve heard Maya Angelou quote, more than once. “Pecked to death by ducks,” refers to when others peck away at you, your happiness, your self-esteem, you, in little bits that you hardly notice, until you are pecked to death. It is so true, of so many situations.

As always, I appreciate any feedback. Please check out Tales From the Motherland on Facebook. Hit like (because it’s a nice thing to do), and feel free to leave me a comment or thought.

photo: E.W. Wicklund

photo: E.W. Wicklund

“You can’t be serious!” Eve responded, choking.

“I’m sorry— it just happened. Neither of us planned it this way.”

Despite his words, his expression was smug.

“We’ve been married twenty-seven years; I’ve given up everything for your career, our family—“

The couple at the water’s edge looked away, Eve’s raised voice a signal to move their children down the beach.

“I said I’m sorry. These things just happen sometimes.”

Bastard! Eve raised her hand to slap him, but dropped it as she noticed the others watching her.

“Damned birds!” She blurted, as she ran back toward the car.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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90 Responses to Friday Fictioneers: Pecked To Death

  1. Mike Lince says:

    Geez – birds get blamed for all kinds of stuff. But then, so do I.
    Did you see that? Your story stopped, but in my head it kept right on going. That’s pretty cool. 🙂


    • Poor birds. I found this one hard… wasn’t sure whether I should go the Jonathan Livingston Seagull route, or find another story. This one just came to me, the idea the of arguing sounding like birds squawking. Glad you liked it.


  2. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Dawn, I so look forward to your entry and I’m glad you’re doing these prompts. You really have a gift! I agree with Mike – the story keeps going…


  3. kjlangton says:

    Once again…loved it!


  4. Wow , would not have thought of story in a 100 words in this way !


  5. shreyapunj says:

    A hundred words that rivet the reader!
    Jeez woman, you a superhero? *to be read in the popular swag drawl*


  6. It sounds unfortunately all too real, especially that last throw-away line. If you don’t mind one little grammar thing, “victorious” is an adjective so it doesn’t really go where you have it. “Hinted at victory” would work, though. 🙂



  7. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Intriguing interplay. I wasn’t quite sure if the birds were having an argument or a couple of humans.


    • Oops, then I missed the target. It is the humans who are arguing, but the birds create something for Eve to project her anger on to. I often think that arguing sounds a lot like birds squawking, and that’s what I wanted to put in here… thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Kourtney. Much appreciated.


  8. tempestletrope says:

    I’ve known people who have been through this. Well, not the seagulls part necessarily, but being dumped after years of marriage. It was horrible. For my ex and me, our marriage was put to a necessary death by both our hands.


    • If it has to end, better that there only be 4 hands involved… and no more. It is horrible enough, without adding pain to pain. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and comment. I appreciate you following along, Tempest, and will work to hold your interest. I hope you’ll check out some earlier posts, and tell me what you think. Feedback: it’s always a good thing! 😉


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  10. Al says:

    That was a cool story. I like the way you used the birds in it.


    • Thanks Al. I immediately thought of squabbling, and went from there. Love seeing what others did, and the directions I might have found. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment. Much appreciated!


      • Al says:

        You’re welcome. I like to read them as well. The ones from my own challenge are equally as good. Seeing how people take the photos and create something from then


  11. Neither of us planned it this way…the bastard, I want to slap him!


  12. kz says:

    ugh. it’s like one of those things that no amount of apology could ever make right. and the smug look… would’ve loved to slap his face. great story.


  13. Aw… Good story. Pack an emotional punch.


    • Thanks! My hope is to write stories that catch the reader’s interest and then bring up some emotional reaction. I’m glad this one worked for you. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog, and share your thoughts. Much appreciated.


  14. pattisj says:

    And to think how often this happens makes me cringe. I’m glad she spared the birds. 🙂


  15. Dear Dawn,

    You captured the unrepentant husband in a few words. I wanted to slap him myself. Good one.




  16. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Dawn,

    An apt title for your story. There’s a lot of this going around. The human condition? Good job nailing the prompt.




    • I heard Maya Angelou once discuss the African saying “Pecked to death by ducks,” and that came to me as I imagined the dissolution of this marriage. Wrong birds, similar thought. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Doug. Aloha! dawn


  17. claireful says:

    A great story and I like the metaphor, but I’m confused at the end. Why did the birds stop her from slapping him?


    • Thanks for stopping by Clairful. I’ve enjoyed your stories.

      My intention was not that the birds stopped her from slapping him (the people watching her did that), but that their squawking added to her sense of chaos and anxiety. She merely projected her own upset, her own embarrassment for yelling and drawing attention, onto the loud birds. Maybe I missed the mark a little? Thanks for sharing that feedback; gives me something to think about for the next one. I hope you’ll stop back. 🙂


  18. zookyworld says:

    An intriguing story — it made me wonder what they were arguing about, and I jumped to the husband wanting a divorce. You dropping that smug expression on him was like throwing a stone in a lake, so much effect from immediately disliking the guy to wonder how he could do that after 27 years of marriage. Maybe she should save the slap for later, out of the reach of prying eyes.


    • I had hoped that my clues would give away what they are arguing about… he has cheated. Try reading it again, and see if his comment in the beginning, tells you this. It’s part of what makes this challenge so hard: making a story clear, and real, in so few words. I think I missed the mark for a few readers. Alas.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by, read, and share your feedback. Much appreciated.


  19. MissTiffany says:

    I feel for the couple who had to overhear the argument. It sucks to be in that position. So awkward. Of course I feel bad for the woman losing her husband after 27 years too, but having been in the couple’s position, I can relate to them more. Nice take on the prompt!


  20. Linda Vernon says:

    Nothing like watching an 27 year marriage come to an end to ruin a day at the beach. A moving story! 😀


    • Thanks, Linda. Normally, I don’t think that way when I think about the beach… but those birds just took me there. Seems they took lots of people to death, or less than pleasant places. The squawking… gulls probably have a bad wrap, but it is what it is. Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts; much appreciated!


  21. AR Neal says:

    Ooohhh… the end of a marriage, compounded by beach fowl. As one who grew up at the beach, the worst thing I witnessed with those flying menaces was food theft… Great piece, and thanks for popping by my One Starving Activist!


    • I grew up at the beach too. Such wonderful memories, and yes, mostly the gulls took our unguarded food. Little more. The idea in my mind, is that their squawking adds to Eve’s anxiety. They symbolize the fighting… I can almost hear them, as I write. :-p Thanks so much for stopping by my post, as well, and for deciding to follow along. Much appreciated!


  22. Honie Briggs says:

    The prompt lends itself to marital strife. Nice perspective. I was shaking my head the entire time. Twenty-seven years!


    • Right? I’ve been married 27 years, so that numbered jumped up at me… but the story just came to me, and went its own way. Love that about FF! Thanks so much for stopping by to read my story, and share your thoughts. Much appreciated!


  23. annisik51 says:

    I like very much the way you’ve used the gulls in this story. It’s a kind of personification. It’s unnerving. It enhances/images/shadows the distress of the woman. She will remember those gulls vividly when she recalls that moment. So I’ve decided that the couple moving their children are seagulls, too, (whether you meant that or not).

    In using the gulls in this way, you’ve made your story unique, which it would not be with just the usual platitudes that turn up in these situations:

    I’ve given up everything for your career, our family—
    These things just happen sometimes.

    Neither of these statements is true, of course!



    • Thanks Ann. Yes, I imagined Eve’s distress as being amplified by the innocent gulls, squabbling over whatever gulls squabble over. Their cries add to her distress and sense of isolation, and she thus hurls her anger at them, as she flees. I saw the people as people, who— as is so often the case, are uncomfortable with real life unfolding in front of them. We’ve all witnessed it: a couple arguing, an angry parent scolding a child too harshly, etc, and it reminds us that life isn’t always sunny… we tend to move away from it.

      thanks for taking the time to read this, and share such thoughtful and complete feedback. Much appreciated!


  24. julespaige says:

    I find it very interesting when we let nature in anyway creep into our moods. Like a calm breeze or any fighting in animals. We are after all as humans supposed to be able to control ourselves.
    I see that you did a similar route to my story segment. Nicely done.

    Oh – I think WP automatically gives you a ‘press’ at your 200th post weather you want it or not. I had an influx from strangers too. I’ve learned not to worry about those folks who are what I call a once and done. Those faithful who come back…some of them, we’ve become friends. This is sort of for your 10/4 post, but I’m here now. I kind of would like to know where some folks came from. But you won’t find everyone. The Prada one…I got that too. I’ve learned to delete without shame.
    Good luck. ~Jules


    • Jules, great point: as humans we are supposed to be able to control ourselves. Seems we rarely do a good job, but project our human expectation on animals, all the time!

      I had no idea that WP does a press for your 200th… if they did, I didn’t notices. :-p This influx has been overall, good, and so I’m certainly not intending to complain about more readers; but, I do find it funny, and thought it worth a tongue in cheek post. Thanks for staying the course. Much appreciated.


      • julespaige says:

        I don’t know for a fact, but first it happened to me, and then another who had noted that they had their 200th post. So I just put two and two together.

        That is another reason I don’t have other share buttons like Faceplant (no disrespect to Facebook fans) or Pinterest or tumblr. I can barely keep up with the wonderful friends I have made. But I woudn’t trade any of them!!!

        As a writer, poet, do I really want or need to see recipes or want to know about someones latest craft project…Well I have found some wonderful folks out of my field. And well I’m not selling anything (at least not yet) so why would I want to know how much or where to find the best bottle of wine?

        We can’t possibly be everything to everyone. The best we can be is our honest selves.


  25. That husband deserves his eyes pecked out, Dawn. You packed a lot of emotion into this one. Brilliant to have the birds as a backdrop for her pain and anger. I really enjoyed this. Nice writing.


  26. draliman says:

    I particularly like the embarrassment of the other couple who quickly shuffle their kids off out of earshot.
    Poor Eve.


    • Yes, isn’t that so typical? People hate to be made uncomfortable, even when it’s clear they are witnessing something far worse for the other person. I wanted the entire scene to be completely unbearable. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment; much appreciated.


  27. Pingback: Friday Fictioneers: Now We’re Cooking | Tales from the Motherland


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