The Frayed Rope

In class we had an assignment in which we were supposed to come up with a short story based off a writing prompt. For this one, the prompt was to write a story that features suspense centered around a rope that was slowly snapping without focusing the story entirely on it. This is what I came up with. It’s a fucking bummer, but I still love it. It reminds me a lot of things I felt in my childhood. Enjoy(?).


The smile on Nathan’s face comically contrasted the old man’s stone face as the old man handed him one of the many promotional balloons he was handing out in the park.

The balloons all contained the name of a local car dealership, but at six-years-old, Nathan had not a single shit to give about that. He saw a balloon. A massive, blue balloon with a silvery ribbon for a string and now it was his.

He had broken away from his parents to get the balloon. They were on a walk together. Him, his mother, his father, and the newborn and he has started to fall behind. When he saw the balloon man in the distance he figured, worst thing that happened was his daddy would realize he had run off and scoop him up and either get him a balloon or carry him back to mom.

What he hadn’t taken into account, however, was the fact that his parents wouldn’t have noticed he was gone, even after he had gotten the balloon. He was gone for a good while. His parents should have noticed. How dare they not.

He watched them get smaller down the park path. Pushing that damned baby. He hated that baby. Before that kid got here, he had mom and dad eating out of his hand. He could do what he wanted almost all the time, but even if he ran off somewhere or played with something he shouldn’t, he was usually reprimanded with one-on-one time where he was held or played with. It was great.

Not since the baby though. It felt to him like he was getting the table scraps of his parent’s attention.

Anger filled his legs as he found himself moving forward. Gripping the balloon tightly as he started walking up the path towards his parents. The balloon was going to be something more than he originally imagined. He was going to show them. He was going to run over, show them the balloon and they would realize he had gotten away and they never knew. This would change things. They’d love him again.

His walk grew into a sprint and the balloon trailed behind him, flailing wildly, being kicked around in his wake. The path took a sharp right hook up ahead and he realized the quickest way to catch up would be to cut through the woods. So he did.

He almost stumbled at first as he went from path to rough wilderness but he righted himself without losing speed. Branches whipped around him at random, he dodged them masterfully, as it wasn’t his first time running through the woods. One of the branches he pushed passed whipped by and he felt it knick the ribbon of the balloon. He looked back for a moment and saw it was slightly tattered. He was infuriated.

He thought about how his amazing balloon was ruined because of the baby. If the baby weren’t there he would have never had to run, never had to hurt his balloon. He couldn’t wait to rub this thing in their faces.

He ran faster, more branches whistling past him, occasionally nicking him in the face as he went. He felt the occasional tug as the balloon was hit.

He cut through the clearing and ran right into his dad’s side, almost knocking him over, his face wet with tears. He held his hand up to show them the one thing that would change it all and the limp ribbon draped over his wrist. Snapped at the tatter point. Gone. It was all gone.


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