Today’s flash fiction was inspired by a recent Fresh Air episode about the racist past of Forsyth County and a lynching that sprang from a rape accusation. Ida B. Well’s called these accusations made by white women (or their fathers, friends, husbands) against black men “the threadbare lie”. She suspected these trysts, if they even happened, to be the result of affairs the women wouldn’t admit to.

This inspired today’s writing. Remember, the exercise focuses on 20-30 minutes of free writing without self edits. Try it.

The Threadbare Lie

The house was quiet, without even the usual creaks and
groans of old age that she was used to. It was like it knew that it too needed
to be silent, or maybe it wanted to lie still in order to bear complete witness
to the event.
Coleman Redding’s daughter was on display.
Her skin glowed in the moonlight and her chest rose and fell
in the slightest of movements. She could barely breath with anticipation, but
still, she smiled wildly with eyes like hungry cat’s drinking in all of him.
His smile matched hers, though in every other way they were opposites. While
light bounced from her toes, elbows, breasts and belly, it was absorbed into
his. With skin as dark good sleep his body absorbed the moon’s rays in thanks
to his good fortune.
BJ Jackson was not fast, nor big, or even popular. He was an
average kid with average grades in a run down town. His saving grace was his
laugh. It bloomed like flowers in Beth Ann Redding’s ears. It melted into cool
water’s that soothed her raging heart and quieted her screaming brain. He had
saved her and tonight she would reward him.
His kisses were slow at first. He was nervous. He’d never
done this before, and Beth had to lead him. She could never tell him how she
knew what to do, but that was fine because she knew he would never ask. She was
He was grateful.
Rough hands met soft places and warm kisses set off bells in
both their hearts. They rang until the vibration shook off their skin and left
their souls bare and pulsing in rhythm.
It was the ringing that filled the room. It was the ringing
that shook the house. It was the ringing that kept Coleman Redding’s homecoming
His home was never silent. Televisions were left on too loud
so that he couldn’t think. Radios blared at top volume so that his word couldn’t
be heard clearly and then there was always the sound of his own rage clanging
inside the halls and at the most horrible times inside his daughter’s body.
He climbed the stairs in discordant opposition to the remembered
music. It was music, yes, music that he’d hated, music that he’d kept from her
and music that would be soon lost to the lot of them.

When he opened the door he’d known what he’d seen, but she
was scarred in unseen places and the goodness within her couldn’t be found to
stand up for the truth, to stand against her father’s own eyes. Instead, she
screamed and clawed at her novice lover’s face, and tried to remember what he
looked like before the music stopped.

One Comment

  1. Charles

    Stories like these need to be told. They need to be told to show how complicit white women were in in having Black men hunted down and lynched for an alleged rape when they had freely given their body to white man other than their husband. These women lied to protect themselves from having an affair and a Black man was the victim, not a specific Black man, but the first Black man to be found. A sad part of American history.

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