Friday Fictioneers – The Package

Photo Prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The first package arrived on my eighteenth birthday. In brown paper tied with string, as butchers used to wrap meat. A printed copy of Dermot Callaghan’s The Lighthouse. Surprising, because Callaghan drowned before he finished the novel. There was no return address.

I sniffed the aroma of fresh printers’ ink, then set to work, copying the whole thing out and submitting it to Callaghan’s publisher.

Every birthday, a new parcel. And every year I published a new sensation.

Now, a lifetime on, my steps falter in the sand by the lighthouse. I walk into the sea, leaving behind an unfinished manuscript.


Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

88 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – The Package

  1. For a moment there I thought he’d published that and subsequent gifts in Callaghan’s name, but I’m guessing that’s not so? I hope he’s left a similar legacy for another aspiring writer.

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  2. I guess these bundles were a few of his favorite things, a la sound of music. I feel disappointed in him for giving in to his greed over his integrity, and his suicide seems to be the nadir of his degrading morality, with the one questionably hopeful note, that he might have chosen to inflict thesame curse on another.

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  3. He published the books in his name, right?
    But, he got a successful publisher of a famous writer – Recipe for literary success.
    Why did he commit suicide? Guess the success courtesy plagiarism made him feel guilty.

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  4. I don’t see ghostly goings on or cycles of mystery. Ultimately the weight of imposter guilt became too much for your narrator. Given that the first manuscript arrived scented by printer’s ink rather than being handwritten or typed, then I reckon somebody at the publishers had a soft spot for him or her and decided to create an opportunity for the recipient to get published. The closing passages added by the narrator must have been very good, proving writerly skill. After that his or her anonymous dealer (who was devoted enough to know the recipient’s birthday date) regularly came up with unpublished works secretly held on behalf of the late great author. Thus your central character was saved the effort of constructing entire books. However, like many a fraud before him, the heat became unbearable and the only answer was to get out of the kitchen. I think you have an entire novel here!

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  5. I like his confidence. I don’t think I could just walk out into the ocean and know I was successfully going to drown. Nice idea behind this story, Neil. Nobody’s dropped any manuscripts in my letterbox lately, although the fragments of a story showed up when I was looking up my Great Grandfather’s obituary the other day. Turned out he was in a rather publicized shipping collision. So, perahps in a macabre way, the threads of something similar have come my way after all.
    Best wishes,

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      1. I thought the fact that he had to pay the price made it sad. To have to be responsible for all he was receiving seemed overwhelming. I may not be getting it. So please forgive my absence of understanding. That’s why I enjoy FF, I get to learn from great writers how to create with words. 😎

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    1. Thanks so much, Magarisa. I don’t think any of would do most of the things we do if we knew what we were getting into. In my mind, it was not so much guilt as the payment of a debt that makes him hand over

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  6. Ooh, love that mystery you’ve left us with there Neil. It feels like a baton that might be passed on, that there are authors out there leaving work behind for others, always passing on their work, nothing ever quite finished and everyone left hollowed out by the process, Each story always finishing in the sea. Love it

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