Died With His Boots On

Photo @Roger Bultot

Flash Fiction
100 words
Genre: Mental Health Narrative

Died With His Boots On
The choking acrid smoke always came first, leaving her gasping for breath a decade later. The clanging of the fire bell would startle her but it was the screams of the trapped horses that brought on the panic attack. The shrink had said, “It would help to stop the dream before the horses cry, before your Dad reaches the blazing barn, before your Mother weeps.” But the barn always burns, her Mother and the horses never stop crying and her Dad’s headstone still reads.

Here Lies A True Montana Cowboy. Died With His Boots On and Saved A Few Good Mounts.

For more Friday Fictioneer flash fiction go here.

61 Comments Add yours

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I liked your optimistic, energizing story this week.

      Be Well,
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    This is right on the button: so much story and emotion in these 100 words; AND you managed to get in a sense of time passing too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tish.
      I think this woman has unsettled business that keeps that fire alive in her dreams.
      Be Well,
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ansumani says:

    Sad truth of life. The undercurrent of grief is evident….the same theme I took this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would be horrible to relive a tragedy over and over again. I know that the psychiatrists deal with grief all the time.
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I should have guessed that it was not just the horses that were the victim.. love the way headstone read.. I guess having to relieve the worst part of our life is what PTSD is all about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true Bjorn. I’m sure this woman has PTSD. Good diagnosis.
      Tracey

      Like

  4. Sometimes time doesn’t heal. Tough memories. Nice writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about the hassle Patrick. I have trouble replying to blogger but not to word press. You are right about healing. Some wounds may be too deep.
      Tracey

      Like

  5. plaridel says:

    there was a lot of emotions packed in this story. it was very moving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dawn,
      Patients with post traumatic stress get trapped in a very powerful loop indeed.
      Thank you for your comments,
      Stay sane 😉
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Few things worse than a nightmare that summons up our deepest fears & worst experiences. So well expressed, as usual. Think I’ll stay up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perry,
      I feel like the only time I can talk to you is through my blog. I don’t know why your reply feed hates me. Anyway, loved your work this week. You never fail to make me chuckle.
      “To sleep, perchance to dream-ay that is the rub.” Hamlet
      Sweet Dreams,
      Anonymous Tracey

      Like

  7. Brave man; sad ending/
    Randy

    Like

    1. Randy,
      I can’t keep making my funny men sad. I count on the dynamic trio to keep me laughing. I don’t think I can write comedy though. I think in comedic one liners but it doesn’t flow to the page. Thanks for reading my sad tales.

      Tracey

      Like

  8. Dave says:

    “Well, Clarice – have the lambs stopped screaming?” Nice nightmare!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dave,
      Why you gotta be like that? Silence!
      Thank you for the visual. That scene gives me nightmares.
      Tracey

      Like

  9. micklively says:

    I’ve often wondered how high up the list of things to consider with my dying breath footwear would feature.
    Good piece Tracey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mick,
      Its a Wild West thang.
      Your Steinbeck comment last week was an inspiration to me and a catalyst for a new work in progress. Stay tuned. There’s more to come.
      I appreciate your comments so much,
      Tracey

      Like

  10. Sandra says:

    A powerfully graphic piece. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve really been working on my evocation which is hard to do in 100 words.
      Thank you Sandra,
      Tracey

      Like

    1. Sally,
      Thank you for stopping by to enjoy the sadness.
      😉
      I keep making people sad with my writing.
      Tracey

      Like

  11. Dear Tracey,

    The only thing worse than a recurring nightmare would be one that’s a recurring memory. This one will linger for a while. Well done.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Rochelle. I have been blessed with resiliency but PTSD could happen to any of us at any time. I’m grateful that I don’t have many nightmares.
      Be well,
      Tracey

      Like

  12. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Tracey,

    From the moment you showed up you’ve been writing stellar pieces. This is one more in the line and I hope they keep coming. Want to hear why? I cried at the end. I love stories (and writers) that can elicit that kind of emotion with their words and work. You’re good.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mahalo Doug,
      Your praise inspires me to keep writing and improving. I’m eternally grateful for the nudge.
      Be well,
      Tracey

      Like

  13. gahlearner says:

    Does it make me a bad person that I’m glad the horses were saved? It’s a true hero who doesn’t only rescue people, but also animals, she can be proud of her dad. Losing him, this will be little comfort though. Very moving, great story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, in fact this fiction is based on a true story from my family’s legends. The horses played a prominent role. The description of their terror and suffering is chilling. It is also told with great pride for the man who lost his life saving them. So many of these stories were lost with my parents and their siblings deaths. I wish I had paid more attention and asked more questions.
      I believe in compassion for all creatures, great and small, so you and I shall be friends.
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

      1. gahlearner says:

        I can relate” Many stories were lost when my grandmother died. Now that my parents are gone, there are only vague memories left. When I was young, I wasn’t interested in ‘old stuff’– now I wish I’d written it all down.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. draliman says:

    A terrible thing to happen, and still to be experienced in nightmares so long afterwards is horrible for the poor person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This story did haunt my Mother’s family for decades.
      Thank you for commenting,
      Tracey

      Like

  15. milliethom says:

    What a terrible nightmare to have for so long! A very moving story Tracey, which you have told so well. The inscription on the headstone makes a very effective ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That’s high praise from the famous author. I downloaded Shadow of the Raven. I’ve been so busy that I don’t know when I’ll get back to it but I’ll let you know. Thanks Millie,
    Tracey

    Like

  17. luckyjc007 says:

    Great story…the mind can be a terrible thing sometimes. Too bad she could not get any relief from such a tragic event.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lucky J,
      I like that. It sounds like a ranch brand. Ha ha
      I’m on a cowboy kick.
      Thanks for stopping by,
      Tracey

      Like

  18. Amy Reese says:

    Well done, Tracey. A very moving piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Amy. Glad you were moved to comment.
      Be well, Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  19. amiewrites74 says:

    A very moving story about the effects of trauma. I like how you ended with the headstone wording. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amie,
      Thanks for commenting. I bet there’s a headstone in Montana just like that.
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Now there’s an interesting epitaph.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joseph,
      It’s a Wild West thing. It says he was hard working, brave and provided for his family even after death. At least that’s what I was trying to say. 🙂
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a beautiful!

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Beautiful story telling, Tracey. Having enjoyed your previous story about your dad, I’m especially glad this is fiction. 😉

    Like

    1. Yes, I’m glad this wasn’t my story, but knowing my Dad it could have been. This was based one of my Mother’s Montana stories.
      You’ve inspired me to get some of my healthcare posts syndicated. I posted to BlogHer today so thanks for the nudge.
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good for you! BlogHer is such a great place to have your work read!

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Such a powerful piece and so sad. Well done, indeed,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Snow. I’ve always been fascinated by ordinary acts of heroism.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. rgayer55 says:

    I hate dreams that keep reoccurring, unless of course, they are the erotic kind–but that never happens–and I always wake up just as it’s getting to the good part. You think it would help if I wore cowboy boots to bed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely but you might wake up next to an ‘ol nag.
      You know laughter really is good medicine.
      Keep us laughing,
      Tracey

      Like

  24. Poor woman. I also agree she most likely has PTSD. It’s horrible to have nightmares that are so real. I loved the warm and loving feeling at the end of your story. Well written. — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Suzanne, She has PTSD. It’s usually associated with veterans of war conflict but other victims of tragedy can get trapped in this endless loop too.
      Be well,
      Tracey

      Like

  25. Creatopath says:

    Wow, your story is brilliant. Chilling to read and very sad for all involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Creatopath,
      I’m not sure which name to reply to but thank you for reading and commenting.
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Creatopath says:

        It’s Rachel.

        Like

  26. Dale says:

    Excellent! Methinks she has not accepted what has happened. To relive a nightmare like that over and over… *shudder*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dale,
      I’m so grateful that I don’t have any recurring nightmares.
      Tracey

      Liked by 1 person

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