Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

#BlogBattle: Conceal

 Writing challenges can be . . . a challenge! They take me in unexpected directions. 

This week's prompt comes from #BlogBattle. Writers are asked to post a short story (under 1,000 words) in response to one word. 

September's word, CONCEAL, led me to this dark tale, just 279 words.


    Mary was eleven. As she walked to school, past the hedge that marked the line between the duplex where she lived with her sister, her mother, and her stepfather, up five blocks past a narrow sliver of a park, and leaned into the steep climb of the last five blocks that led to Harrison Elementary School, she thought about her teacher. Mrs. Montgomery.

    The other kids said Mrs. Montgomery was mean. Maybe she was, but Mary thought she was kind. Her face never squinted in a horrible scowl. She never raised her voice to shout or her hand to hit. Mrs. Montgomery was poised. Once she quietly gave Mary lunch money. “If you ever need to talk to someone, you can talk to me.”

    Mary knew better. Her mother liked parties. She didn’t like neighbors. After one long night, her mother had pushed her face close to say, “You don’t tell anyone ever what happens at home. Do you hear me?”

    This was her last year at Harrison. Next September, she would follow the same route up the hill, past a row of pretty cottages behind a picket white fence, and then down the other side of Magnolia Hill to a newly built junior high. 

    In another two years, she wouldn’t walk to school anymore. Mary shook her head and smiled. She would take a city bus to high school. Maybe they would have a library. After that? She shook her head. She couldn’t think ahead that far. 

    Mary pushed the sleeves of her sweater up on her arms to hide the moth holes and wondered what Mrs. Montgomery would say if she asked to go home with her.

Image by Lorri Lang on Pixabay

Why not tap the link to #BlogBattle to read what others have written this month?

With thanks to #BlogBattle admins Rachael Ritchey and Gary Jefferies for setting up this monthly writing challenge that’s meant to inspire and encourage writers and readers. 

Why not join in? Just write under 1,000 words around this month's prompt and follow the rules HERE. Meanwhile, have a good month, stay safe, and write on!


  1. Very intriguing Beth. It feels like Mary is storing up an inner secret that might end up in some calculated revenge on mum. An element of potential victim turned, dare one say it, murderess. She clearly is planning from her time lines on school to leaving. Has decided not to speak to her teacher friend too. It feels like that decision isn’t born out of fear too. Might be why I feel she is calculating something and waiting until she can enact it.

    Very well put together.

    1. Thank you, Gary. Your thoughtful comments suggest a longer and dark story. Just not sure I want to go there right now, during pandemic. :)

  2. Nice touch how Mary switches abruptly from contemplating the next few years to wondering what the teacher would say if she asked to go home with her that day. It seems we were given only the surface of Mary's thinking, that deeper down simmered the angst of what else she would have to endure over those next few years. Has she reached the point of not being able to take it any longer ... or will she retreat from that daring idea? I liked the little details you threw in - the teacher providing lunch money, the holes in her sweater - to show us what Mary is going through. Short and, well, not so sweet...! :-)

    1. Thanks for reading and making me smile with 'not so sweet'. Blame the prompt, but that's the purpose, isn't it?

  3. This IS an intriguing story. I see Mary as a victim of child abuse, possibly by her step father, certainly ignored by her mother and afraid to talk. The teacher clearly sees this and reaches out to Mary. I don't see Mary at all as being sinister. Beautifully written as usual!!!

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. This little snippet could be the beginning of a longer story, but as others noted, a pretty dark story. Could be an interesting journey if Mary takes charge. Luckily, other projects are keeping me busy.

  4. Fascinating story, Beth, and I can totally see how this prompt got you, unexpectedly, to this tale. That is, indeed, the beauty of a prompt.

    There certainly is potential for a longer (dark) story, or background story for a character in one of you future books. Or, Mary could ask the teacher her contemplated question. And, when the teacher says yes, or figures out a way to help, the story could go in an entirely different direction. Aaah, fiction...

    1. Thank you, Liesbet, for reading this dark little story. I do like writing for challenges, and this #BlogBattle challenge each month is new to me -- and interesting, though I'm not sure at all this story will morph into anything at all.