Hard Times

Posted: January 13, 2016 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , ,

Once again it’s time to sketch a story from Rochelle’s weekly picture prompt. This week’s photo has been provided by Amy Reese. Thank you, Amy. My story weighs in at 103 words, whittled down from 111.


A pack’s worth of cigarette butts lay at Jamar’s feet when he rose from the bottom step. His knees and shoulders ached from hunching in the 20-degree cold. No coat, no hat, shoes held together with tape. A slap to his thigh brought his lab, Tinker. Together the old pals shuffled through the snow to the corner – their corner – hard won and jealously guarded.
Jamar set the cracked porcelain bowl beside his foot, pulled a harmonica from his pocket. The first note was raw. Still, a dime clinked into the bowl, followed by a woman’s voice, “That child can’t be more than ten.”


  1. So chilling.. the twist to understand that the smoking beggar is a child. We have such a tendency to paint a scene that is becoming even more tragic (though we should feel compassion also toward that toothless old beggar….) really food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ohh that last line packs a punch Alicia.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra says:

    Such a surprise at the end, I had to go back and re-read it with the new twist. Beautifully done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great ending, really resonates. Thanks for depressing the crap out of me this morning, Alicia!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so sad, but well written.
    Can’t imagine staying outside without a coat.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rea says:

    The writing is chilling…both the 20 degree temperature and your description of 10 year old Jamar…excellent!


  7. Danny James says:

    Good one! Captured the photo prompt perfectly.



  8. Dear Alicia,

    I already felt for Jamar, but when I learned that he’s a child my heart broke. Well done.



    Liked by 1 person

  9. draliman says:

    Great last line. Jamar being a child gives your story even more punch, and well done for hiding that until the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Caerlynn Nash says:

    I don’t think she had much sympathy if she only spared a dime. Too bad.
    Great story though. I didn’t expect the last comment. You tied it up well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ansumani says:

    I kept imagining an old man – the ending was a brutal surprise. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. plaridel says:

    you did it again. great piece of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. gahlearner says:

    Talk about a punchline. That’s brutal and very effective. The worst crime though is that suffering like this(and worse) is allowed, that no one interfers. Rich and Poor seem to live on different planets, no matter which country they are in. Great writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. mjlstories says:

    Very sad – and great reveal at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Amy Reese says:

    That’s amazing how I got a completely idea about different him. To think of a child suffering is worse, but then you realize how no one should I have to struggle like this. Very well done, Alicia.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A real indictment of society and how it cares for its children; sadly, not fiction in too many places. Really well done, Alicia, as always! You spin your tales so vividly!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Margaret says:

    What a heart-stopping ending! Very moving – I love how you set it up and then turned it round.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Best I’ve read in a while. That’s very moving and does reflect what’s happening in too many places nowadays. Hope you write him a guardian angel.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh wow..10, that’s young!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A heartrending story, Alicia, and well-written as always. When I eat I always give thanks for the food being there. I can never forget it isn’t for many. I’ve seen child labor and it isn’t pretty. It’s especially ugly in a case like your story. I once saw a young girl without a coat in the cold in Delhi. Someone told me even if I gave her a coat the adults she knew would take and sell it and she still wouldn’t have one. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  21. wildbilbo says:

    Great stuff – I did not expect that last line. Its very clever work.
    Cheers KT

    Liked by 1 person

  22. hafong says:

    You’ve painted the scene well, Alicia – Jamar and Tinker. I hope there are too many of them in the world outside fiction. But I know there are. Just hope they have warm places, clothes and food.


    Liked by 1 person

  23. Dale says:

    Oh, my heart broke on that one! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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