#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: W for With the heart of a lion

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: With the heart of a lion…

Provided by: Cheryl KP, friend, fellow writer, artist.


#atozchallenge : W for with the heart of a lion

#atozchallenge : W for with the heart of a lion

      Kill with the heart of a lion, her Pa used to say, slicing the air with his hands, tend with the heart of a lamb.

          She liked the shape of those sun-browned hands, his thumbs bent out of shape, joined back all wrong after he broke them during a butchering accident. A long time ago, he said when she asked him, he was more careful now.

          His hands worked just fine. They birthed calves, made her her dressing table with its dainty drawers, whipped up breakfast for her and her brothers each morning after her Ma took to bed.

            He baked them cakes at Christmas and folded them inside the spicy-sweet tang of pumpkins when he sat carving the rounded shells on all hallows eve, teaching her curly-haired brothers how to handle knives. They lit candles together in the evening, and he brushed her hair into a ponytail when they hung too near the flames.

            She often put her hand on his, and laughed at how different they were. Those same crooked hands cut down the rope she found Ma hanging from in the barn one evening. She couldn’t stop screaming, and held on to those hooked thumbs as she sobbed to sleep that night.


When they came at sunset and started digging she screamed once again. She yelled and shrieked, as did her brothers, now hefty young men, but they came in big black cars, waving papers and guns, in white cars with flashing sirens. They stood around in groups against the fading light. They took him to his room upstairs and wouldn’t let her brothers in. She made them tea while they dug up the vegetable patch and orchards, set up lights in the yard. They took shovels to the stables and the barn. She watched from the kitchen window.

       They found sacks, and inside each sack, hair, bones, clothes, grinning teeth. They slapped each others’ backs, exchanged solemn handshakes. The Old Jackal, they called him, in hushed whispers. They’d found his den, his hiding place.

      They took him out in the dark, the flashing lights on those misshapen hands, handcuffed behind his back. She watched as they walked him out the gate, her brothers by his side. He did tend to us, her soft whisper broke in to the night air, but no one heard her.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt?

42 thoughts on “#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: W for With the heart of a lion

  1. The end was unexpected, but what surprised me more was that you managed to thrill the readers in such a short story. I mean most stories are very long and it takes time to build that atmosphere. Great job.

  2. Oh Lord, Damyanti. I have to really buck myself up before coming here. You lure me in & and even though by now I know what’s coming, I let you do it again. I really wanted this father to be untainted. I read recently that short stories aren’t supposed to have happy endings. Not even once in awile?

    • Hey, sorry about that :).

      My stories are all about perspective, how good and bad, happy and sad are all relative.

      Yes, from the daughter’s perspective her father turning out to be a monster is a tragedy, but imagine the families of all the women he killed, and further more, imagine this arrest from the pov of a potential victim.

      • I know. I think I was just so taken by your very poetic description of his hands and how he used them, I was thinking about my Dad’s hands through the years, then BAM. He’s nothing like my Dad!

  3. Whoa. I was not expecting the story to take that turn at all. I assume the wife knew, or at least suspected, and that’s why she took her life. Very chilling and powerful.

  4. From the opening line, I love the way you extended the sense of “tending” hands… the wonderful and productive images (from the child’s perspective), but then, as per usual, you turn the tables… very effectively!

  5. This is an amazing piece of writing. I think it is the best I have read of yours on here. Shockingly realist in that the same person can mean something to one person and something totally different to another. Great work.

  6. Damyanti, my friend, you know to freak readers out. What makes it really spooky is that you are subtle, your words are scarce, alembicated, refined–not blaring like mine–yet the impact is deep and chilling. It’s like those quiet people you sometimes meet in the movies or real life; they look calm and peaceable, but they’ve got really crazy chilling ideas; when you get to know their thoughts, you become totally freaked out and before you can say WTF you are submerged in horror. This story is like that–insidious, seeming innocuous yet deeply fatal. It reads fine, and then suddenly it turns into horror. I admire this absolutely. Good work.

  7. I had admiration as I saw the father do all the chores a mother would do. The ending almost knocked me off my seat. I loved the story and felt the devotion and other emotions of the daughter.

    • I knew the end before I wrote the beginning of this one. I struggled a bit with the transformation, but then I saw those handcuffed hands, and I knew they would take me to the beginning and through to the middle :)

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !

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