In Fiction on July 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

For this week’s Friday Fictioneers post (care of Madison Woods) I thought I’d try something from a longer piece I’ve been thinking about for a while. This isn’t an excerpt, because nothing longer has been written yet — but it’s a look at one of the characters you’d meet along the way.

I’m definitely interested in constructive criticism this week so lay it on me.


Anselmo stood at the basin scrubbing his hands long after they were clean. The mud was gone from the creases, leaving hard, sun-leathered skin. He’d served Mister Zucaro for forty years, but not once had he felt used, not until the arrival of the mainlander – this Callum Gallagher.

Anselmo was no man’s tool, but the money … his wife had insisted, Mister Gallagher’s offer was too good, and now he had to do this thing. He’d looked at these fields of green-prickled sugarcane for forty years, worked in this house and served this man for forty years, and now he had to watch it all burn.

And somehow his hands were clean…


The link for the other stories is right up there — check them out and post your links in the comments below!

Some other 100-word stories:

  1. Hi Brian,
    This is a finely polished piece of writing, and it creates tension and anticipation in multiple ways. Sound like the start of a great story. I have only one quibble, very minor, and it’s the use of the colon. Maybe just a comma?

  2. my one issue was the use of the colon as well. The sentence didn’t flow as well as it could.

    But otherwise it definitely intrigues interest. I’d love to know more about these characters and why there was a need to burn the sugar fields

  3. I like the way the characters unfold in the thoughts of the protagonist even as his own character is being played out… And what interesting characters! I’d like to know more about them!


  4. There’s something about the hand-washing image that never becomes cliche. Maybe because it’s something we all do every day?

    • Well it may still be a little cliche, but I justified it to myself by saying it was a way to get a look at his hands and have him think about his years of service. Thanks for reading!

  5. Fantastic story, Brian, plenty to get our teeth into as readers and i’m definitley intrigued to find out more. You give Anselmo in particular a fascinating character even in these few words. I love the first and last lines.
    A couple of suggestions…
    I think the ellipsis before “his wife had insisted” could do with spaces around it. I know that’s a style thing though.
    The other bit that gave me pause is “leaving hard, sun-leathered skin, dark and cracked and tired.” There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but that many concepts and adjectives leaves me struggling to create a single image, and that draws me out of the story. I love “sun-leathered” and the other words are powerful too, but I would suggest reducing the number of words a bit so that the image is crisper.

    On the whole though, I enjoyed this immensely and look forward to seeing the rest one day.
    I’m over here:

    • You’re right, I laid it on pretty thick with the adjectives there haha. I think originally I had intended for a slow looking-over of his hands, and it ended up getting shoved into one long line. I’ll be making that change! Thanks so much for coming by.

  6. Anselmo’s scrubbing of hands reminds me of Lady Macbeth. Some evil deeds can leave psychosomatic trails behind.

  7. enjoyed it, but after washing, wouldn’t his hands have been temporarily soft and moistened? That seemed incongruous to me.

  8. Hands that are that weathered don’t get soft…too much water will dry them as well. I loved “sun-leathered.” Good work

  9. definitely makes me want to read more of the story 🙂

  10. I too like the MacBeth undertones with his hands here. That he would stand in amazement that his hands were clean after burning the sugarcane…I get that its more than just his clean hands we are talking about. I would definitely enjoy reading more.

    Mine’s here:

  11. Looks like everything’s been said and you’ve “cleaned up” the adjective string. If you wanted to use “cracked, dried”, you could put them in the first sentence before “hands.” That breaks up the string and still lets you use the words to good effect. But it works perfectly well this way, too.
    I want to know the rest of the story.

  12. One very small observation: In the first paragraph you mention that Anselmo had served Mr. Zucaro for forty years and then in paragraph two you interject Gallagher’s name before you repeat that he “served this man for forty years”–some readers might stumble temporarily over the identity of “this” man. I really like “hard, sun-leathered skin”. That phrase says so much about Anselmo’s overall physical appearance and reinforces his forty years of hard work.

  13. Oh nice, great story Brian, and well woven too.

  14. Great first line – draws us right into the piece.

  15. Really enjoyed this – great imagery. My only comments in such a short piece would be the two paragraphs starting with the same word. Obviously this wouldn’t be so obvious in a longer piece, but you might want to think about it here.

  16. A tightly woven story. Nicely done, Brian.

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