Our March Bronze Metal Winner


Heidi Eastman is a small town Ontario wife and mother to two delightfully weird girls. Her days are spent behind a desk in the financial world, so in her spare time she craves creative outlets, whether that be cooking, knitting, or writing.

Heidi has had a previous piece, I Had a Lover Once, published in the December issue of Blank Spaces.


What the judges had to say:

"Good use of structuring."

"Love how to absent character is present in the story (Him) and how the dialogue fits so naturally...The symmetry at the end really tied it together."

"Wow - heavy! Yet so tender at the same time. Well done!"


The photo prompt:



The unedited story:

BREATHE
by Heidi Eastman


Left foot.
Right foot.
Breathe.

Left foot.
Right foot.
Breathe.

I can do this. Just put one foot in front of the other. Don't look back.

Two hours until He gets home and notices we're gone.

Two hours to get as much distance between us as possible.

I look down at my angel and smile, knowing it doesn't reach my eyes.

"Mamma, my feet hurt. Can Daddy come get us?"

"No baby. Daddy's still at the picnic."

"Why didn't we go home? You told him we're going home."

"You and Mommy are going on an adventure baby. We're going to see Auntie, and she's going to take us to the train station. Doesn't that sound fun?"

"A train ride? Where?"

"Somewhere far away."

"Really? Can we see the ocean? And dolphins?"

"Maybe." I squeeze her close to my breaking heart.

My sweet girl reaches up and touches my swollen lip. "You should turn the light on at night Mommy."

I fight back the tears. I'd held it together through the church picnic, laughing while making up a story of how I walked into a door last night in the dark. Apparently it's quite believable I'm that clumsy, or maybe it's just easy to turn a blind eye. No one ever bothers to look at what my makeup and sunglasses are hiding.

"I know baby. Mommy's silly."

We continue walking in silence. My feet are beginning to blister. I wish I had packed better walking shoes, but He would have noticed. Instead, we are stuck with sundresses, impractical footwear, a favourite doll, and a tattered old suitcase.

I love that suitcase. Today it holds balloons, and activities for the children at the church picnic. But hidden beneath the tattered red lining, it holds our lives on paper - cash, passports, birth certificates, medical records and pictures.

It holds our entire hope for a new beginning...

       but is it possible to have a new beginning without a clean ending?...

                                   or will I always be running?

He's speaking on forgiveness now, just like last time.

Perhaps I should stay and forgive Him....

But I have stayed.
And I have forgiven.

And I have kept covering these bruises, and making up lies for the ones I can't.

I thought He would change. I thought He would stop.

I prayed He would.

He didn't.

I don't think He'd ever hurt our angel, but then again, I never thought He'd hurt me either.

I have to do this. I have to do this today.

I am doing this.

I'm terrified.

I have no choice. My angel deserves better.

I'm done.

Left foot.
Right foot.
Breathe.

Left foot.
Right foot.
Breathe.



Catch up with Heidi on her blog where she occasionally shares silly glimpses into her life mysistertoldmetostartablog.blogspot.ca or on Twitter @RamblingHeidi

Learn how you can participate in one of our Write-Prompt Flash Fiction Contests HERE

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