Ephemeral empathy

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

Saltwater on a young boy’s cheeks sympathetically streams down our own. One cold child is a burning key, melting hearts, locks. Gates swing wide under the weight of shared humanity and gnawing guilt of action long overdue.

We preen in our kindness…for a while.

Our sympathy is temporary, our empathy ephemeral. A dead face is singularly unforgettable, but unremembered amongst the immediacy of a living tide of desperate tears crashing against our shores. Tragedy en masse makes the many a mirror; we see only our own needs and safety, our own faces.

Gates shut; rust.

Nobody counts in large amounts.

100 words

Genre: Cynical Rant

This is my entry to this week’s Friday Fictioneer’s Challenge – I’m fully aware it’s very heavy handed and not really a story, but I don’t care. This is where the picture took me, this is what you get!

Thanks to Rochelle for hosting again (check out her Addicted to Purple blog) and thanks to David for the photo (his blog is here: Green-Walled Tower). Also check out the other stories (there is often over 100!)

Any comments, criticisms or shares are (as always) welcome and appreciated.



Published by: wildbilbo

My name is Kristian Thoroughgood, alternately known as KT to my friends, or @WildBilbo on twitter. As of August 2015, I am forty years old. Australian. My blog is intended to be both a place for me to polish my creative writing muscles (not a double entendre) and for others to read and comment on my musings. Expect short stories, articles, essays and other brain dumps. My opinions are my own, and whilst I take care to be at least moderately informed about any topic I speak or write about, these opinions are subject to rapid change in the face of passionate arguments and greater evidence. Please note - on my blog, Evidence beats Passion.

Categories Flash Fiction, Poetry, Short, WritingTags, , , , , , , , , , 13 Comments

13 thoughts on “Ephemeral empathy”

  1. A friend once pointed out that the human mind cannot grasp the concept of infinity because the mind is finite. I have found, if we move from the mind to the heart and then to the soul, our beingness spreads and moves other beings into being. In my view, that’s the only way violence and war can be ended. But I can see where you’re coming from and you’ve put it forth very poetically and tenderly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear KT,

    You’ve written a long and consistently good series of flash fictions since you joined the Friday Fictioneer’s fray. This week’s story (whether you think it is one or not) is one of your very best, for the subject matter, the timeliness, the insight and the way you put it together. You are a very good writer and I want you to know that this is what I think. Bravo.

    As for the apparent hopelessness of the human condition, in all its varied forms and tragic ends, I can only say that shedding light on it is the writer’s job and that you never know how your light may illuminate the scene and change things for the better.

    Your empathy shows in this piece. Take heart in the knowledge that you care and that you are helping, though you may not think that you are or that it is enough. The world is a wide place and not all your responsibility. You’ve done well.



    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Doug, I appreciate all of your very kind words. At a time when motivation to write has been thin, and my commitment somewhat shaky, this is lovely to hear.
      Cheers and thanks to you (and to all the other Friday Fictioneer’s) for the ongoing support of reading the things I write.


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