This is for Flash Fiction Friday - F3 - Cycle 76 - Doubt
Due 6am Thurs - gives us some late night time - 1200 words
Challenge is to write about doubt - in particular, the lack of it.
Cue: Write a story where your protagonist is mistaken about something they “know” to be true.
Doubt can be crippling, but nothing is more dangerous than someone who has absolutely none. It feels so good to be right, and we’re always right, aren’t we? How could we not be. We’re intelligent people. We don’t let our fears and past experiences cloud our judgment. Only other people do that. Right?
What I want you to do is explore the value of doubt. Someone in your story is wrong, but thinks he or she is right. It is easy to write a zealot; go a little deeper, find something you absolutely knew to be true, by gut feelings, that turned out to be wrong, or much more complicated than you imagined.
Of course I had to bring out my fairy tale characters. Last story we saw Red looking for a magic potion.
"Back off or so help me I'll take my ax to you!"
"Take it easy, buddy," said the wolf. "I just came over to see Red."
"I've seen you with her," said the woodcutter. "All over her - it's disgusting. She's not that kind of girl."
"Actually, she sort of is," said the wolf, "and I like the new Red."
"Friends don't do those sort of things to friends," said the woodcutter. "Back off, now." He lunged toward the wolf.
"OK, I'm going," said the wolf. "But tell her I called."
The woodcutter straightened his jacket, brushed back an errant lock, then stomped back into the house, slamming the door behind him. They all used to be good friends, then Red started getting all moody. And then wolf was suddenly chasing after her, dragging her out on another date. Red seemed to be going along with it, but he knew was not something she liked - she knew she was just worried about hurting wolf's feelings. She was that kind of girl, sweet, kind, thoughtful - had always been a good friend.
"Bruce, who was it?" called Red from upstairs.
"Just that damn wolf, chasing after you again," he said. "I gave him a talking to - he has to stop stalking and bothering you - has to keep his hands to himself. He has lots of women in the village to keep him busy, no need to bother you."
"He has been here an awful lot," said Red. "But you didn't hurt him, did you?"
"No," said Bruce, "I just sent him back to his own place."
The wolf lived behind the main house, in a little granny flat. It kept his many amorous affairs at a distance. Plus. after a few rainy days he tended to smell.
"Well, thanks for worrying about me," said Red. "But it's not as simple as it looks - it's kind of complicated between me and wolf."
"Looks simple to me," said Bruce. "He's broken the trust, he's acting like - like a wolf. Doesn't deserve to be our friend anymore. I'll still do the stories with him, but I won't be pulling any punches. And in between - I don't want to see his face."
Red looked at him sadly, then gave him a hug. "Thank you old friend, I know you mean well."
He walked into the kitchen - the witch was bent over a big steaming cauldron, waving her hands and muttering under her breath.
"What are you brewing," he asked.
"Chili - I think," she said. "Trying some new herbs I found. I may give a bit to the cat first, just in case. Was that the wolf again?"
"Yes, he's being a complete jerk, pestering Red, dragging her out until all hours of the night. I've seen her creeping up the stairs, hair all mussed, clothes messed up - he's too rough with her. I know it's not Red's idea, she's just too nice to say no. I swear I'll take an ax to him next time he comes after her."
The witch sighed. "Oh Bruce, everything is always so black and white - when you're right you're right. There's more to this than meets the eye - have a seat.
She told Bruce about Red's restlessness, about her depression over years of being celibate and chaste, about her wish to try something wild and different. Like wolf. Hence the potion, meant to nudge wolf a bit toward her.
"But it did a lot more than nudge him," she said, "he's all over her like a love-sick porn star."
"Please," said Bruce. "I don't want to even think about them together. But I miss her."
"And she misses you too," said the witch. "She needs a good friend to talk to, and I think sometimes needs a little more than just a friend."
"But that's not what we are," said Bruce.
"I know," she said. "In the stories she's the helpless maiden, you're the strong hero that rescues her. And that's all. But we've a life between stories too. Try to be a little more than a friend to her. If you can - you're not gay are you?"
"I don't know," said Bruce. "Am I?"
"Oh, so now you have doubts. Well, you do seem very particular about your looks - your clothing has to all be coordinated, hair just so."
"I just want to follow my role as well as possible," he said.
"Hmmm. How about when you disappear into the outhouse for half an hour - yes, I've noticed. It's OK, we all do that. Yes even me, don't look so shocked. But while you're out there doing your thing, do you think of men or women?"
"Women of course," he said. "Oh - I get it. Oh, and not of you!"
The witch patted him on the arm. "You're so cute when you blush. Now why don't you go out and chop down a few trees. That always calms you down. Dinner won't be for a while. I'll find out what went wrong, and how to fix it - I'll talk with Red. And wolf. Trust me."
She called Red downstairs and sat across from her.
"Sweetie, what's happening between you and wolf?
"I don't know," said Red. "It's all going wrong. He seemed like such a sexy choice, just what I wanted. But now he won't leave me alone. And whenever we're together he seems to have only one thing on his mind."
The witch paused as if in thought. "Yes, he is a sexy beast, but not something just anyone can handle. But this all went too fast, I'd adjusted the dosage to slowly build into a nice little nudge - five drops a night, five in a row. Unless ..."
She looked at Red sharply. "What did you do?"
"I may have been a little impatient," said Red.
"One night. All of it. I'm sorry!"
"Foolish girl," said the witch. "I should leave you two to suffer, but your dear friend the woodcutter is very worried."
"Ah yes, my friend," said Red.
"He is a good friend, you know, and I've planted the thought with him that it's OK to be a little more than a friend when he's not doing one of the stories. So if he asks you out for a coffee - be gracious. And good luck."
"What about this wolf thing?" said Red.
"I'll brew up an antidote for him in some tea and take it out back. You go have a lie down, I'll call you for supper when I get back. I may be a while."