Without Knowing More

A couple months ago, you might remember me feeling the jitters over a Short Short Story competition. 500 words, 1.5 hours, subject given on arrival. We had to use the phrase, “Today is my Friday” in our stories, but otherwise we were given full range of imagination. Here’s what I came up with. Enjoy!

Without Knowing More

by Christene Houston (c) October 2012


Nothing can prepare you for such scenes: the unexpected collision on a Vegas highway and the resulting maelstrom of the bodies involved.

Jo worked on the little girl with damp blond curls, feeling a surge of protectiveness she’d never experienced before. A desperate urgency clawed at her as they raced to the hospital, puzzling Jo. At twenty-seven, Jo Erickson was well versed in politics of life saving. Distance meant safety. And yet…




She stopped when she saw him. Dark blond curls disheveled from a sudden waking. Panic in his eyes when they caught hers.

“Was that Ashley?” he asked, his hand extended toward Jo, the other pointing down the hall as if the motion of the disappearing gurney were ripping him in two.

Boundaries, Jo.

His eyes plead with her.

“Who are you?” Jo knew better. She knew better than to care. This job could shred your heart if you weren’t careful. Yet, something made her step forward.

“Noah Fielding. My sister…,” he gasped, an audible sound of his throat constricting around pain, “She was hit by a drunk driver. My niece was with her.”

Jo tried to resist the feeling of being swept up, but failed.

“That was her. Noah, I worked on Ashley. I can’t promise you anything, but I’m hopeful. Your sister…” Jo didn’t know how to tell him she was hovering near death. She didn’t have to. One look revealed everything her words couldn’t.

“Can you sit with me?”

Jo should have gone. Her team was waiting. “Today is my Friday,” she began, “I have a few hours, but I’ll be back.”

Noah’s head popped up the moment she returned.

“We lost her,” he murmured.

Jo sank down into a crouch gasping for breath. She’d been so sure.

“My sister…,” he finished.

Her chest expanded knowing Ashley was still alive.

“I’m sorry,” she said. Her hand was poised to comfort him, but she remembered they were strangers and paused.

“You came back,” he said, wiping his eyes and looking into hers. Jo realized then that she was a mess of windblown hair and tired blue eyes.

“You asked me to,” was all she could stammer. She couldn’t explain how she was drawn to this little scene, or to Ashley. It had never happened before and Jo was sure it never would again. She prayed it at least.

“They said I could see her, but I’m afraid,” Noah said. “I don’t know why, but I’m going to ask you to help me.”

Seconds ticked.

“I don’t know why, but I will,” Jo said.

“I don’t even know your name,” Noah said, standing up. He towered over Jo like a linebacker.

“Jo,” she offered.

He took her hand, “Jo, thank you.”

There was a throbbing, a beating of hearts somehow connected by more than shared experience.

Without a word they walked the hall and Jo felt a wash of reassurance that, somehow, this path was meant for her.


Christene Houston © 2012 Flash Fiction Contest

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