The Least Costly Mistake

by Darryl Donaghue

The drugs would make things easier, he’d said. Although that idea made no sense to me, I believed him. We’ve never been open with each other, but I know my Jeremy. Condemn me for even thinking about it, as I’m sure you will, but had you heard him on the phone you’d be considering it too. Before you judge me as a mother, imagine it was your son. Sobbing. Telling you what the other inmates say; what they do to him. He’s alone and you can’t protect him like a mother should. But the drugs would make things easier.

You see my problem? I know how it must sound. Jeremy’s in jail and I’m debating whether to smuggle drugs in for him so he can barter with those bullys. Heaven knows what impression you must have of me, but let me tell you, I am anything but a bad mother. Jeremy is from a good family and this has affected us all greatly. Mary is off to University soon where the kids won’t know anything about all of this, so the teasing should stop. Frank’s started drinking again as he blames his absence for Jeremy’s misdemeanor. As for me, I’ve had a few raised eyebrows at the prayer group. No one has yet dared to say, “Let us pray for Jocelyn Emerson. May the Good Lord save her soul,” but they think it.

Okay. Confession time. I’ve never even fare-evaded. Skipping the train fare is, I suppose, the city version of apple scrumping; petty adolescent crime. But not me. I never had the stomach for it and when Suzy and Annie ran past the guard they’d often hold the doors waiting for me to buy a ticket and bring up the rear. So you can imagine what this is doing to me.

Just picture it. Standing in the visitors queue waiting to be searched. Clammy hands, dry throat and curdled emotions. I can’t imagine not doing anything, but there’s just so much to risk. My family. Mary. Frank. Poor Frank.


I left a note on the pillow. I’m hoping he reads it before the phone rings.


  1. #1 by ramsea on October 29, 2012 - 7:18 am

    Caught my attention the whole way. Nice one.

  2. #2 by Aaron on October 30, 2012 - 5:54 pm

    Very difficult situation to cover and you nailed it. Open enough to make you think and a steady development to keep you hooked to the very end; by which point your initial thoughts of loathing have changed to understanding and sorrow for the poor mother.

  3. #3 by Sandra on November 1, 2012 - 3:11 pm

    Nicely done, with a convincing voice.

  4. #4 by cmdoyle on November 2, 2012 - 1:46 pm

    A lot of emotion and storyline captured well within the restrictions of flash fiction. Well done.

  5. #5 by Fiona Jane Richardson on November 3, 2012 - 10:20 pm

    Really good, held my attention and made me feel her anxiety, the cracks in her family, her mother’s love, especially liked the ending….

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