Rueful Ruin


Photo © Roger Bulltot

I’d donated my youth to war, watched our reconstruction fall to drought, nursed my dying wife to the last.  Nothing could faze me.

Yet this had been home.

Its prideful towers — toppled, reclaimed by vines.  Roofless walls of windows stared in judgement over weedy fields.

Laughter burbled up, sour-tasting.  I stopped before it turned to sobs.

All my father’s red-faced lectures, blaming every family failing on his “wastrel” son.  In the end, he destroyed his legacy without my help.

He’d probably cursed my absence, unable to curse my presence.

I sighed.

Mad dogs bark loudest.  He cannot bite me now.

Word count: 100.  Written for this week’s Friday Fictioneers challenge.  Thanks to our fairy blogmother Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting, and for Roger Bulltot for providing this week’s prompt photo!  Click on the link to read the rules and to see the other stories inspired by this image.



66 thoughts on “Rueful Ruin

    • I’m glad you liked the story Neil, thanks! But I’m troubled that so many of my other stories have confused you. With rare exceptions (always noted), the characters and narratives are unique to the story at hand, not continuations of other stories. Even if I mention the name of a country or deity, you shouldn’t have to know anything other than what’s given in the text in order to understand the story. Of course, just because I think it’s clear, it may not be to everyone; I can’t read the minds of my readers. If you’re confused by more stories in the future, I’d appreciate you letting me know what part you find unclear – thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The characters names are almost always new — nobody you would have heard of (if they are, I always provide a link to the earlier story in the notes). Sometimes I refer to a deity or place I’ve mentioned before, but hopefully I include enough clues about what’s important. For instance, in “Moon Maneuver” last week, I mentioned the goddess Saliente again, but I called her the Moon Mother, and that’s all you need to know, that she’s a goddess associated with the moon.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, glad you liked it! Yes, there are plenty of ruined castles and keeps in one part of Eneana, so I can always find a story for one of those! Luckily I also have big swaths of Eneana where they live in huts, or cilffside caves, or desert tents, which gives me a lot of flexibility with this photo prompts.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ooh, yes, that last line is a cracker. Funny how the father was so daming of the son, despite him sounding like a ‘wastrel’ himself – too alike perhaps. Love the sour tasting laughter too. Very good story Joy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting take, Lynn, thanks for your comment! I was thinking that neither was especially a wastrel — that dad was harshly judgmental and his son could never do anything well enough for him, so the son ran away… and proved himself the opposite of a wastrel, if only his father knew or cared. Yet his father failed at his own life’s task, to defend his home against his enemies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting, isn’t it, how sometimes parents can be their children’s harshest critics? Is it because they want so much for their kids then feel disappointed for them when they realise their kid can’t/won’t be a genius/superstar/surgeon, whatever fantasy they had in mind? Hard when your parents are so obviously disappointed in you

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it spans a whole range. In this case, I think the father’s just …. let’s keep this family-friendly and say “an abusive jerk” who pushes blame and responsibility onto others and takes out his anger on the weak people around him who can’t fight back.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my so close to real life for some!
    “I’d donated my youth to war, watched our reconstruction fall to drought, nursed my dying wife to the last. Nothing could faze me.”
    But what to do with those mad dogs.

    I enjoyed reading this, it was an imaginative take on the picture prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some parents are like that, horrible. Looks to me like the son did nothing wrong. People are important, not things. There’s still an atmosphere of disappointment there, the son, I think, will have to deal with his father, dead or not, for a while yet. Great story, Joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very good point, that just because his father is dead, he still has to deal with the aftermath of that relationship. I was thinking that maybe the son wasn’t perfect — maybe he did do things to rebel against his judgemental, nasty father as a child — but nothing that would warrant such extreme criticism from his father. I had a longer version (naturally) of what he did when he was away, which made it clearer that he went off and proved to himself that he wasn’t useless, that he could work hard and loyally for the right cause. Thanks for the great comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment — welcome! And thanks for pointing out which line you liked — that’s so reassuring to hear that a line I thought worked well actually came across that way. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the way the story says so much about the character of the son, as well as the stormy relationship with his father. The number of traumatic situations the son had to deal with says much for his fortitude and it’s a bit of a puzzle as to why the father called him a ‘wastrel. Perhaps he expected that quality to be In his son knowing – but not admitting – that he was one himself. As it turned out, it was the father’s failings in that respect that brought the family home to ruin. Another brilliant last line! Well written, Joy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a great comment Millie, thanks! My thought was that the son was constrained by his father when he lived at home, and perhaps rebelled against his father’s judgemental attitude. It wasn’t until he “ran away” from home to join the war effort that he was able to figure out who he was, separate from his home environment, and grow as a person. But he never got the closure of having his father recognizing his accomplishments and strengths (and probably wouldn’t have, even if he’d come home earlier). A different twist on the prodigal son, it just occurred to me.


      • Yes, it’s almost exactly the reverse of the prodigal son, I hadn’t noticed that. Instead of running off and spending his inheritance and being welcomed back with open arms no matter what bad he did, he ran away and gave up his inheritance, and was never welcomed warmly by his father no matter what good he did. And in the end, it was his father who ruined the inheritance. Hm, this has me thinking, what other parables or themes can I try inverting? 😉


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