An offering of flash fiction that makes that case that the world is too brutal and dangerous to describe with euphemisms and veiled references, and urges all to rise up and be exactly who you are…

by: Frederick Foote

My mom spoke to me, “Elton, be sensitive to others and write right.”

I said, “What?”

She replied, “don’t use the “N” word or call women the “C” word or use the “F” word to describe gay people or use ‘cripple’ or ‘retard’ to describe others. Be sensitive.”

My grandmother snorted dismissively and said, in front of my mother, “Little nigger, you gonna be what you gonna be. The truth fits me better than sensitivity. If I need to, I will offend every breathing mothefucker. I will rattle the cage of every sensitive cocksucker. I need to write the words that trigger the fire and scorch the soul.”

My mom smiled and answered. “Elton can write his way into a good life. He has skills and ambition, and one day he will win prizes and recognition. Foul and offensive language is unnecessary to his success. He is a better person and writer than that.”

My grandmother said, “Boy, if you are pleasing people and being sensitive, you are selling your soul and feasting on a shit and shame salad. I need to fuck with the powers that be. I create my writing rules. With every word I write, I’m fighting for my very soul. The world is too brutal and dangerous to describe with euphemisms and veiled references. Rise the fuck up and be who you are going to be.”

My mom took a deep breath and said, “Mother, you are pushing my buttons and straining my last nerve. I think you need to rise on up out of my kitchen and let me raise my child the best I can.”

Grandmother stated loud and clear, “Fuck you and your kitchen too. It takes a village to raise a child, and every day is a fight to get it right. And ain’t nobody done it right yet. I raised you, and here you are shoveling him homogenized shit on a shoe.”

Mom walked to the front door and opened it. “Mother, you got to go. I don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here.”

My grandmother winked at me as she left. “Save your soul, boy. Write what you feel and be real. As to the sensitive people, mother made ‘em motherfuck ‘em.”

Mom slammed the door behind my grandmother. My mother balled up her fists, ground her teeth, and screamed, “I hope you go straight to hell, you foul mouth old cunt!” 

Mom turned on me. 

“Elton, Elton, I might have said that, that word, but I didn’t write it, understand? Elton, wipe that smile off your face, or you and I are going to be at odds. I mean it, Elton.”

I couldn’t help it. I exploded in laughter. After a minute, we were both laughing our asses off.

Later Mom said, “God, Elton, I let her goad me into sounding just like her.”

“Mom, you got played, but don’t worry I will only use profanity and insensitive language when it is fucking necessary.”

Mom raised her wine glass to my water glass. “Elton, I can drink a toast to that.”


Frederick Foote is a regular contributor to Across The Margin. Read more of his work here, and purchase his latest collection of short stories, The Maroon: Fables and Revelations, here!

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