#FridayFlash: Intervention


by Tony Noland

"Are you enjoying it? The University, I mean?"

"Oh, sure. I mean, it's pretty tough, you know? Tougher than I expected, but it's good. Really interesting. Fascinating, you know?”

“It’s just that I don’t hear you talk about it much. I don’t hear you talk about much of anything lately, even now that you’re home for the summer.”

“No, it’s fine, it’s great. It’s just, I guess, I want to take a break, you know? Just get away from it all, take a break, relax.”

“As long as everything’s OK.”

“Yeah, it’s fine. Why, do I have a sign on my forehead saying, ‘Things Aren’t Fine’, or something?”

“Rick… you’ve been home for a week and haven’t called me. When you were home over spring break, I didn’t even know you were in town until Thursday. You said you were going to be at Jenny’s party, but you didn’t come.”

“I was busy. I’m working a lot at school and just wanted to hang out, decompress, OK? What’s the big deal?”

“Over winter break, you wanted to hang out with me.”

“For Christ’s sake, Kelly, knock it off, alright? What the hell difference does it make?”

“I need to know, Rick. When you stopped IMing me, I figured you were just busy. Then when you didn’t return my phone calls or e.mails, I figured…”

“What? Figured what?”

“That you’d met another girl at school.”

“WHAT? That’s ridiculous! I love YOU! I love you and nobody else, OK? That’s ridiculous!”

“Ricky, what happened on Valentine’s Day?”

“Val… nothing. Nothing happened. What do you mean? Nothing happened on Valentines’s Day.”

“Ricky, please. I need to know.”

“No, you don’t. Nothing happened on Valentine’s Day.”

“Please, Ricky. Whatever it is, if it’s another girl or whatever, please Ricky, we just need to know what’s going on.”

“There’s no other girl! There’s nothing, nobody, nothing happened, not on Valentine’s Day or… wait a minute, ‘we’? Who’s we?”

“It’s me … and your mom. Ricky, honey, please, please calm down. If it was just me, that would be bad enough, but you stopped e.mailing her in the spring, too. She said she didn’t think much of it at the time, ‘cause you’d said things were getting busy going into midterms. When you didn’t e.mail say how the exams went, and didn’t call.”

“So? I was busy.”

“Ricky, you turned your phone off. She said you used zero minutes in the last four months. Your Facebook page hasn’t been updated in forever, you don’t call, you completely dropped off of Twitter - it’s like you died or something. Your mom said that over spring break, you stayed in your room and slept all the time. She can’t get you to talk about school at all. She called me because she hoped you might open up to me. Whatever it is, Ricky, we can handle it. Is it your grades? Is that it? If the University is too hard, you can transfer to State, or Tech, or even take a year off or something. Are you flunking out?”

“Jesus Christ, of course I’m flunking out! I haven’t been to class in months! I didn’t even know what rooms the finals were in. It’s gonna be a perfect score, ‘Fs’ across the board, just the thing for an overachiever like me. Won’t I be the pride of TriState Academy, the Valedictorian making good use of his scholarship. Jesus. Jesus.”

“Ricky, please, look at me. Calm down, look at me. It can’t be that bad. You had three Bs last semester, how … no, wait, hold it, I don’t care about the grade, I don’t! I care about you! What happened? Is it… is it drugs?”

“Oh, please. Even if I wanted to do drugs, I couldn’t afford them. I wish it were just drugs.”

“Then… what? Please tell me, Ricky. I love you, and I want to help you.”

“Nobody can help me. I’d kill myself if I had the guts.”

“Ricky, don’t say that! Please, honey, please tell me. Whatever it is, I just want to help you. You’re hurting so much, please, Ricky, please let me help you. Tell me what happened.”

“You can’t… you can’t … tell anyone.”

“No, honey, it’s just me, it’s just Kelly, c’mon baby, please tell me. Just spit it out, Ricky, please.”

“Just spit it out? OK, fine. On Valentine’s Day, I went to a party at Alpha Delta Psi, the football frat. Flirted with a girl, got drunk, made a pass at her. Her boyfriend took me into the basement and raped me. End of story.”

Other #FridayFlash pieces can be found here


  1. Well, obviously not the end of the story at all, is it.

    As the mom of two new college graduates, this reads way too close to home to a ton of “What’s new?” “Not much.” conversations we had over the years - just glad we never got to the same punchline!

  2. Sort of a downer ending, but leaves room for expansion or a sequel to see how he deals with it.

    *goes to read more of your flash fiction*

  3. Very good dialogue, very believable (I've taken part in some similar ones in my university days, thankfully not for the same reason of course)

  4. Was going to make a lighthearted comment about your managing to cram in just about every possible social media reference within one piece of flash. But you bummed me out (no pun intended).

  5. Super surprise ending, and, as others have said, obviously not the "end of the story".
    Great job!

  6. Well done, depressing ending. Obviously, not the end of the story for him!

  7. Poor kid. Well written dialogue only piece. But now I am sad... See how your piece moved me? Peace, Linda

  8. real punch of an ending there. As others have said, the dialogue was believebale and I think that whats really makes the impact of the ending work.

  9. Geeze. Doesn't he have any friends that could go beat this guy to a pulp? His girlfriend is calling the police right? Oh yeah...fiction, right. Well done.

  10. To be the voice of dissent, I think if he went an entire Quarter without going to class, hadn't talked to hardly anyone in 4 months, then he wouldn't just give up his secret so readily. Gratned its Flash Fiction so you have only a limited amount of time to tell it, but it just seemed to short of a conversation to then lead to his admission.

  11. Great comments, guys. I can't say I'm surprised that this one leave the taste of ashes in one's mouth. It was an exploration in building tension from nil to way-too-high in a slow reveal. I'm trying to work on my pacing of dialogue.

    Memo to self: next week should be funny, or at least uplifting in some way. People will stop coming by if my #fridayflash gets too blue.

  12. He makes a pass at a girl, and her boyfriend rapes him? Does that happen much? I've never heard of such a thing happening. But I'm a Texas boy. Down here, they'd just beat the shit out of you. I guess what I'm saying here, Tony, is that rape part seemed implausible to me. But the writing's good. Always good. Darned good. You got the gift. And I love the entire thing in dialogue.

  13. Oh, but that's not the end of the story! I'd say it's really the beginning.

    And I don't think it's all of that story either, though it would be unrealistic for him to tell it all at once.

  14. I had a friend that was taken in such a manner. He always just kinda denied everything. It changed his antics for sure. Correct, terrific rendering of a potential situation facing today's youth.

  15. D. Paul: A valid point. It's not at all uncommon for rape and other trauma victims to become socially withdrawn. One of the worst things about rape is that the victim's feelings of humiliation can prevent them from reaching out for counseling and emotional support.

    The first year at college means being alone and away from home, away from support networks of people who really care about you. Did he tell his secret too easily? I meant to convey that Kelly had to drag it out of him, that it was not an easy thing for him to voice, even though his need to get past his denials and connect with Kelly was welling strongly within him.

    Anasazistories: Yeah, it's almost as if there's a heck of a lot more to the story of what actually happened that night than he's saying, isn't there?

    But the writing's good. Always good. Darned good. You got the gift.


  16. Tony, loved the drama in the dialogue. Wow! I felt like a balloon filled with air and then let go. Moving up and down and side to side. Wanting to know where I was going to land, but didn't. And then the sudden stop. Whew! I loved it!

  17. Thanks, Cynthia! The dislocation and the confusion of the reader was intentional... I hope it all made sense at the end!


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