portion of the artwork for Thaddeus Rutkowski's stories

Thaddeus Rutkowski’s Comments

These three flash fictions were inspired by things that happened, incidents that had meaning for me or that stuck in my mind. But I have rearranged and conflated events. My idea was to tell a story in each piece, and to give that story a certain tone. The voice, as well as any cause-and-effect pattern, serves to hold each piece together.

What can I tell you about “Cemetery Walk”? My mother hasn’t been well lately, and my sister and I have been visiting her as often as we can, though neither of us lives close to her. About a year ago, my mother recovered from a hospitalization and returned home. During a visit, my sister and I walked with her from her house to the local cemetery. Along the way, my mother tried to lift our spirits with Eastern wisdom—left over from her childhood in China. The end of the story is a bit surreal; it’s a way of showing what we see but cannot understand.

As for “Dinner Prep,” FRIGG editor Ellen Parker helped me see the situation clearly with this comment: “The man of the house has to figure out how to please the women of the house (who outnumber him), but he’s never going to truly succeed.” The story follows my usual pattern of trying to make dinner for my wife and daughter, but making small mistakes along the way. I have exaggerated the steps, the missteps, and the anxious moments. At the end, the dinner is presumably ready to enjoy.

“Fear of the Dark,” is based on my experience of having to rid my daughter’s bedroom of a suspected monster or ghost. I’m pretty sure anyone who has a child has found himself or herself in the same situation. You want to respond in a comforting way, but it’s hard to do that when you are awakened in the middle of the night. However, we were all once children ourselves, so we’ve all been afraid of the dark. The story is meant to show the tension between the instinct to protect and the desire to sleep in peace.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 55 | Spring/Summer 2020