#FFC52 I keep writing fat word counts and have to trim it down to get to the magic 500. I sawed off another 100 and the story still reads well. Peruse the other responses to TiV’s 30th flash fiction prompt. Dig these 498 words and shout out in the comments:


“Larry?” A voice drifted out of the office across the hall. “You got a minute?”

“Sure, boss.” Larry walked from his office to the founder’s suite.

Larry looked over the shoulder of his longest friend and cofounder of the non-profit organization they’d started almost ten years ago. They saw a need in the community, and worked hard not only to meet that need but excel at it. Ten years later, they were the model everyone aspired to.

“What’s up?” Larry asked, but he already knew what Erik had discovered.

“I’ve been reviewing the books and there seems to be, like, twenty grand missing.” Erik stared at the ledger, brow furrowed.

“You sure?” Larry planted his palm on the desk to get a better look. “Accounting hasn’t been your strongest talent.”

Erik leaned back in his chair. “Should I have Diane in accounting look at this?” Erik rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand.

Larry flipped the ledger closed. “You’ve got your plate full with that meeting coming up. Lemmie handle this.”

Erik smiled, visibly relieved. “You’ve always had my back. I don’t know where I’d be without you.” Erik spun in his chair to face Larry. “You wanna get a drink tonight?” He winked. “Without the wives?”

Larry leaned against the desk. “Not tonight, I promised Sylvia I would get some shopping done.” He paused. “Tomorrow?”

“You got it.”

* * *

I hate lying to him.

Larry sat in a bar very different than the one he and Erik frequented. At this bar no one knew him. He could relax the façade he wore every day since the stock market “sure thing” failed. The ledger sat on the table in front of him, surrounded by dozens of empty shot glasses.

* * *

Sylvia dabbed her eyes with a tissue. Erik and Janelle sat on either side of her. The detective did her best to sympathize with Sylvia and her friends, but she thought, this is the hardest part of this job…

“There wasn’t any indication your husband tried to brake or swerve.” She paused and chose her words carefully. “Were there any problems at home or work that in retrospect would have led to this?”

Erik squeezed Sylvia’s hand. “There were some accounting irregularities he was looking into.” Erik looked up to the ceiling and breathed in deeply. “Do you think this was foul play?”

“We just want to cover all our bases. We discovered this ledger with the, uh body, but there’s a page missing. Any idea what was on it?”

Janelle stood and motioned for the entourage to follow suite. “I’ll get with accounting and get back with you.”

The detective nodded. “You know how to reach us.”

* * *

Erik, Janelle and Sylvia sat in an office at their foundation. Erik squeezed Sylvia’s shoulder. “We’re here for you.” Sylvia nodded and touched the edges of a waterlogged page missing from the ledger. She placed her hands on the bottom of the sheet over where Larry had scrawled:

I’m sorry.

About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

9 responses to “Guilt

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