Dropping Matthew Off

He’d be glad to be done with the creche. It’d shave thirty minutes from his day once Matthew started school.

He was nearly back when he heard gunfire. A late-model car cruised slowly on the right. A trio of boys dashed in front. He slammed on the brakes—then realized his mistake. Another boy on the left, eye winking down the barrel of a gun.

He just needed to go, he just needed to go—but the piercing sting. He let go the wheel, looked down. Red on his shirt—why red? Red on his crisp white shirt. So much. He started to pant.

Not here. Not now. Who would pick up Matthew? Who would tell him? How would the boy know? How would he ever know how much he loved him? How impossibly big this love was.

How it was too big to even fit into this body any more.

151 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt click here.

Sadly, inspired by true events: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/dad-shot-dead-after-dropping-child-at-cape-town-creche-20170622

As near as I can tell, a creche is a daycare, but I could have this wrong.


  1. Excellent piece, especially the ending. You beautifully capture the surprise and befuddlement of the mortally wounded dad. Researching South Africa, I was struck by how most of the news involved murder and violence. Rough neighborhood.

    1. That struck me to. I had no idea. Learning a lot more about the world from this Pegman character 😉

      Thank you for your kind words!

  2. Very real, very frightening and well written.

    Yes, a creche is a place where working parents can leave their babies to be taken care of while they’re at work (now it’s me assuming that’s what a “daycare” is!) 🙂

    1. Ah, thank you for settling that question. Thanks too for reading!

      PS Would love it if you considered doing pegman sometime 🙂

      1. I have considered it – I’ll maybe dip in from time to time. I’ve just followed your Pegman site so that’s a good first start 🙂

    2. I agree with K. You should join Pegman! It would be fun to see some of your stories here. Just my two cents. Alicia

  3. So tragic! This really outlines what a killing does to a family. The loss is unimaginable, but I think your story portrayed it as well as it can be done.

    1. Thank you so much.

  4. Karen… before I start… my comments on Josh’s story dropped again. I can’t find an email address for him or any way to contact him so hopefully you can do the honours again?

    I said on his story…
    Thanks Josh. Hopefully you get this comment, this time. A no frills viewpoint depicting a brutal way of life. Liked the was the unsexy gang names and his adopted name stood out a mile. Guessing he went on to become a leader.

    His comments box said on this comment…
    Error 403
    We’re sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for /wp-comments-post.php?for=jetpack on this server. You do not have permission to access this server. Data may not be posted from offsite forms. Your technical support key is: 4f4b-ffb3-cd36-1abb

    Sorry for being a pain and making your post person again. My comments aren’t that important, but, well, I do like to let people know how I enjoy something they write. S’least I can do for the effort writers put into their craft.

    1. Hi Kelvin, thanks for providing this info. I passed it on to Josh and he’s taken some steps to try to fix the problem. So hopefully we will have this straightened out!

  5. I like the way Matthew being shot seems out of place in his daily routine. As if it doesn’t belong there when so much shooting belongs there. The brutality is played against his love wonderfully. It is as if his love has been shot and is separate from him, divorced from him, if that makes sense.

    1. I like how you put that. You may be giving me more credit than I deserve, but yeah–it’s all so out of place. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      1. You’re most welcome, Karen. Your humbleness is not out of place, I feel. 😎

  6. Sorry, not Matthew, Matthew’s Dad. 😳

  7. I like the routine matter of factness with whch you write about Michael’s shooting. The writing is crisp and hit hard. Well written, Karen.

    1. Thanks Neel! Thanks for reading.

  8. A really great take Karen. I loved the last line.
    You’ve captured how unremarkable some South Africans consider the taking of a life to be. I imagined the shooter and his mates being in a shebeen within minutes, drinking and laughing as if nothing had happened.

    1. Such a chilling epilogue you suggest, but wow. I’m afraid you might be right.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Great to ‘see’ you! 🙂

      1. I’m sorry to say I probably am right. That said, South Africa doesn’t have a monopoly on cold-blooded killers. It just seems that way sometimes.

  9. OMG, this almost had me crying. I could have been there. And it’s true, life is so cheap in South Africa, and so briefly experienced for many.

    1. Thank you Sandra. Reading the headlines in Cape Town broke my heart. I had no idea of the violence.

  10. peterkirsch

    Painful. Powerful.
    Really well-done.

    1. Thank you so much. Really hoping to wear you down and get you to do pegman one of these weeks 🙂

  11. Oh, such hurt and love in this. Matthew’s dad only thinking of the child as he sits dying in his car. Love this!

  12. A heart-wrenching, gut-clenching tale too often true. Gritting my teeth with the reality of it. Great writing!

  13. Dear Karen,

    All the good comments have been taken. 😉 I will add my (late) voice to the others. Stellar writing and gut-wrenching piece. Is there any place left in the world where people are sane?



    1. If you can find it, let’s move there. 😉 Thanks for reading.

  14. That was massively depressing. Actually, I wrote a similar story from a completely different prompt months ago, but from the child’s point of view. In my case, the Mom got in a car accident was wasn’t killed. His Grandpa picked him up, but it’s horrible to be a child and to wait and wait and think no one is going to pick you up.

    1. Yes, tragic. Sorry to bring you down, but thanks for reading.

      1. I hate the thought of children feeling like they’re abandoned, so I guess your story was successful.

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