Deelylah Mullin Author

Promptly Penned–March 2017

· The one where I write flash fiction and work in a Mommy, Dearest reference. ·

March 8, 2017 6 Comments

Promptly penned is a regular feature. Today's prompt: Three more days of this.

“I can’t even…” Tara’s voice broke as she hurled the half-full rocks glass across the room. The amber liquid ran in rivulets down the white marble fireplace surround. Crumpling to the floor, she managed to avoid knocking over the Faberge egg standing delicately on a suspiciously tipsy vintage table.

“Tara, that’s about enough,” Shawn scolded. “It’s not a fucking death sentence. You just have to play nice with the dragon lady for a few days. No biggie.”

She pinned him with a stare cold enough to freeze his blood. “It’s not just about her. It’s this entire fucked up situation. My brother has been institutionalized and my incubator is trying to act as though nothing is different. You’re not making things better.” She wiped away the mascara tracks down her cheeks–evidence of her tears–as she surveyed the room.

The sitting room, in all it’s historically accurate charm, was flawlessly reconstructed based on documents Donny had uncovered–notes from the original architect and notes from the society page of the local newspaper–from the late 1800s. All the public rooms had been redone, as had the master suite. Donny, her brother, had ensured their Joan Crawford-esque parent was happy so she didn’t pull a Mommy, Dearest on their grown asses. And what had dear ol’ mom done? She’d had him committed for inpatient treatment in a psych ward.

Because he thought the bathroom should have pink and gray marble. Not fucking green and yellow ceramic tile–like she wanted.

It wasn’t even a question of keeping her happy. No one knew what made her unbalanced mind tick…or what would set her off.

Tara heard the measured click, click, click of her sensible pumps on the marble floor in the foyer. Just outside the parlor. Fuck. Here we go.

“Tara, darling, is everything all right? I thought I heard glass breaking. I was worried you’d injured yourself.” Her carefully schooled expression was no match for her anger, though. It was almost like flames shot out her ears and smoke rolled out her nose.

But she put on a good show. For someone that didn’t know her like Tara and Donny knew her.

“I’m just peachy, Mother. You’ve squirreled away my brother god-knows-where and you probably murdered Dad. All within the past six months. Yeah. I’m solid.” Tara turned away from her nemesis and rolled her eyes.

Shawn piped up. “Mrs. Lancaster, I think Tara is just tired from traveling. I’m going to run into the kitchen and see if I can find something to clean that up, and then I’m going to take her up to bed. I’m sure she’ll feel better in the morning.”

More of the slow, purposeful steps–this time across the Aubusson rug–the same one she sat on, leaning against a really uncomfortable couch. These motherfuckers must’ve cost Dad a fortune.  Tara wondered if Mother had managed to bankrupt the family yet. They’d been well-off. Like, super rich. No one blinked an eye when she wanted to attend Sarah Lawrence for undergrad work, nor to attend Columbia for her master’s degree. Even studying something as idiotic and least-likely-to-yield-a-paying-job as sculpting. And not the clay-on-a-wheel sexy kind, like in Ghost. Tara was in shape because she swung a hammer to chisel away the detritus hiding something of beauty–or horror–inside a block of marble.

“I’m sure that’s it, Shawn. And, please–for the hundredth time–call me Fay.” Her name came out all breathy and Tara pictured her batting her fake lashes at Shawn. “I’ll get Judy to take care of Tara’s little accident. Just get her settled. I’ll be in the study having a glass of brandy if you’d like to join me after.”

“That’s kind of you, Mrs.– er, I mean Fay. I’m pretty tuckered out from being up super early this morning to catch our flight. And, we have lost four hours traveling east. Jet lag, and all that.” Shawn was way nicer to the bug-eyed, forked-tongued human than Tara would’ve been.

Which is why Sara loved him. Shawn probably wouldn’t be so keen on Mom if he knew how she trash-talked him behind his back. “Tara, you can do so much better than an actor. He’s not even that famous. I don’t know why you even bother. My dear friend, Emily St. James, has a son that would be perfect for you. He’s a lawyer and he’s already made partner…” The woman never stopped about Thomas St. James the third.

“Very well, then. Gather her up and get her out of here. We don’t need the help seeing her in such a state.” Tara imagined her mother’s nose in the air as she turned on her heel and exited the room, the clack, clack, clack of her heels on the marble sounded again as she crossed the foyer to the study.

Picking herself up off the floor, Tara grabbed the bottle of 1955 Glenfiddich, rolled her eyes at Shawn, and jogged out of the room and up the grand staircase–perfect for announcing a debutante or a scene out of Gone With the Wind. Stalking down the hallway toward her guest suite–which her mother miraculously allowed Shawn to share, even though the help will talk–swinging the door wide as she entered. She slammed it behind her and leaned against the heavy oak slab.

Knock, knock, knock. “Can I come in?” The doorknob turned and there was a gentle push against the door. “Honey, let me in. We can cuddle up and get some sleep.”

“You need to give me about ten minutes. I need to cool off or I may say something I’ll regret.” Anger made her gut clench and her throat tighten.

“Okay, baby. I’m going to run down to the kitchen and see if there’s anything I can bring up for a snack for you, and maybe see if there’s stuff for me to make you an awesome omelet for breakfast.”

“You’ll get on Mom’s secret shitlist if you actually do that.” Tara shook her head at Shawn’s naivete.

The doorknob turned again and there was a gentle push of the door. “It’s not that bad, Thor. I think you’re exaggerating.” He called her Thor when he was teasing–because she swung a mighty hammer that no one but her could lift, supposedly.

“Ten minutes, hon. Just give me ten. I need to reset and wrap my head around this.”

“I can help.”

“I need to do this on my own. I brought you into the viper’s den–I need to deal with it.”

She heard him sigh through the door. “Give me the scotch and I’ll give you time.”

She glanced at the bottle. “You won’t push your way in if I hand it out?”

He sighed again. “I guess not.” Busted.

“And you can see if you can find me a banana and some Greek yogurt. That might be good.” She stood and stepped away from the door, opening it wide enough to pass out the super expensive bottle of scotch.

“Thanks, T.” He grasped the bottle in one hand and her hand in the other. Twisting her arm to palm-up, he kissed the inside of her wrist, right over the tattoo of a Viking-style Mjöllnir. Which made her heart melt a little. “I love you. I’ll be back in ten. We’ll get you a snack, have a shower, and sleep in that big-ass bed.”

“I love you, too. I’m sorry.”

He shook his head. “No need. This shit is hard.” He sighed again. “I’ll be back soon.” Turning on his heel, he strode down the hallway toward the stairs.

Tara closed the door quietly and padded over to the overstuffed wing-backed chair she loved so much. She settled in, curling her feet beneath her, and pulled the afghan her grandmother had made around her.

She took a few deep breaths and slowed her heart rate. I can manage. Three more days of this, then they’ll read the will and I can get the fuck out of here.

Check out what everyone else wrote for this prompt:

Jess  |  Bronwyn  |  Jessica  |  Kris


March 15, 2017



  1. Reply


    March 8, 2017

    Yay – dysfunctional family fun! Is this part of something longer?

    • Reply


      March 8, 2017

      Writing about dysfunction is a favorite pastime. LOL. It’s not part of something longer at this time. Although Fay–the mom–has been poking around in my brain a little.

  2. Reply

    Kris Norris

    March 8, 2017

    I’m trying to decide if there’s a poisoning in the future of this story, lol. And give me a guy like Shawn, please… pretty please.

    • Reply


      March 8, 2017

      Oooh! Poisoning could be fun 🙂 Almost like a modernized fairy tale! And yes, Shawn is a bit of a dreamboat, isn’t he? He seems *almost* too perfect…

  3. Reply

    Jess Jarman

    March 8, 2017

    Love me a dysfunctional family. LOL And all that matters about Shawn is that he’s perfect when the time calls for it, yeah? Which he seems to be in this little piece. 🙂

    • Reply


      March 8, 2017

      I’m trying to find his ‘fatal flaw’. Maybe another flash fic piece will inspire 😉