For this weeks prompt , the challenge was to write a poem/essay/short fiction piece about work . I truly believe that success is a result of hard work , and to my knowledge , hard work has never killed anyone . With that in mind , my response is a flash fiction piece , which showcases the scattered thoughts of a woman , subjected to a life-time of hard work , under poor working conditions .


The familiar words bounced around in the vacuum of her mind . It formed part of a daily ritual … almost like a mantra : Barring serious accidents , if you are not preoccupied with worry and you work hard , you can look forward to a reasonably lengthy existence … It's not the hard work that kills , it's the worrying that kills .

He was one smart guy , that Thomas Edison . It's the worrying that kills . And Mildred Lawson had put the words to good use . She had not a care in the world . Well , that is what she told herself . Over and over . Everyday . And she knew about hard work too . Inherited that streak from her mother who , it was widely acknowledged , had worked herself into the grave at the ripe old age of 77 years . Add the bonus of possessing a meticulous and cautious work ethic … and you have a win-win-win working situation , courtesy of Mr Edison .

Work … work … work . That's what life consisted of . No more , no less . Her very existence had been reduced to it . It was the sum total of her life . She represented the 'poster-child' for workaholism . Work was her ally . Work was her solace . Work was her sanity . Always had been , always would be . She thrived on good , old-fashioned work . Of the physical kind . Not your fancy , sit-behind-a-polished-desk-in-an-office-kind-of-a-way . Not for her , thank you . She never had been that kind of a person … the thoughts swirled around in her mind … as she lay in quiet contemplation … one of those random moments when conscious thought surfaced , with a stark clarity , before mental fatigue took over …

He entered the tiny room . The make-shift sleeping quarters  housed the dozen or so women . The familiar sneer was in place . He barked his orders at the dispirited inhabitants . The monster had reared his ugly head … time to work … on cue … Some of the faces wore the mask of rebellious resignation while others were totally defeated .

But not Mildred . She looked forward to the routine , welcomed the sheer mind-numbing , back-breaking hard labour imposed on them … If he thought that work was a form of punishment , or a way to pry information out of her , or a method to break her spirits , then he was sorely mistaken . They had no idea who they were dealing with . She was a different type of woman . They didn't know that . And she had no intention of letting them learn too much .

Check out the prompt over at Victoria's place :


  1. Victoria on September 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Wow. This conjured up all sorts of possibilites for me…a sweat shop, sex trade, concentration camps. It shows the importance of attitude toward whatever we meet in life. Thanks for sharing this compelling flash fiction, Mish.

    • mish on September 8, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      All those options passed through my mind when I planned the piece , so although it is more generic , it does encompass all women who are trapped/enslaved within those scenarios you mentioned . And yes – attitude can mean the difference between life & death ! Thanks for your support and kind comments . 🙂

  2. JamieDedes on September 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Wow! Reeks of mystery and draws one right in. Want the rest of the story … Ha! 
    Nice work, Mish.  Happy day to you …

    • mish on September 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm

      Thanks for popping in and your kind comments Jamie ! 🙂 I appreciate it !

  3. Isadora on September 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Truly a story with intirgue. I was curious about what her work was. There was a little cotton fields slavery or factory sweat shop in the mystery of your tale. I would have enjoyed more.
    Very nice, Mish ….

    • mish on September 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm

      I did have the idea of slavery in mind when I wrote this piece Izzy – so you’ve hit the nail on the head in that sense . Thanks for the support ! 🙂

  4. Damyanti on September 19, 2011 at 8:35 am

    It's not the hard work that kills , it's the worrying that kills .
    This sentence rang so true. Well done!

    Join me at the <a href="">Rule of Three Writers' Blogfest!</a>

    • mish on September 20, 2011 at 7:28 am

      I know lots of people who are afraid of good , old-fashioned , honest hard work … don’t want to hear about “putting your shoulder to the wheel” and getting on with it !

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