Friday Fictioneers: Only widows




Three days, four nights they waited, staring dry-eyed across the waves, at slate water torn to feathers by the wind.

Shawls pulled tight around their shoulders, the women stood apart, like the rocky weathered stacks at the bay’s mouth, holding strong under fierce gales and knife sharp rain.

Only when the first splintered board hit the shore did they start to crumble. And as the boats returned as match wood – fresh delivered to their feet with every crashing breaker – another woman shattered and another, until no wives remained.

Only widows.



Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. A truly lovely prompt with an amazing community of writers. If you’d like to play along and read more stories, see here.

As it’s the summer hols and writing time is scarce, I’ve combined this  prompt with today’s Word for Wednesday, today’s word being WIDOW.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word comes down from the Old English widewe and it had many variations throughout Europe, among them the Dutch weduwe and weeuw, Old High German wituwa, German Witwe, Gothic widuwo, all linked to the Latin viduus meaning ‘bereft or void’.

Widow’s peak came about because that hairline was supposed to foretell early widowhood, echoing as it did the cap worn by bereaved wives.

The term grass widow is fascinating, at times meaning ‘mistress’ developing into a woman who pretends to be married but isn’t. It could also mean a woman whose husband has disappeared (either presumed dead or through desertion) and a woman who has had children outside marriage.

All bad news for the women, then.

Thanks to Kat, the founder of W4W.

55 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: Only widows

    1. The fate of fisherman’s wives for centuries – still is I’m sure, though they’re probably better informed now, with GPS and so on.
      Still the most dangerous job you can have, being a fisherman. Terrifying stuff.
      Thanks so much for reading, lovely 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Terrifying, though, isn’t it? You have to be a certain kind of bloke to cope with that – such tough work. Fascinating, though probably slightly intimidating men to know 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Minelli! What a lovely comment. Do join Friday Fictioneers – the standard of writing is very high and everyone is terrifically supportive. It’s a great community and you’ll have a lot of fun too. Thanks for reading 🙂


  1. Dear Lynn,

    Normally I would discourage the melding of two prompts. However if you hadn’t told us I’d never have known. Beautifully written with magnificent descriptions. Thank you for the etymology lesson for widow. I’m a logophile so I really enjoyed it.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rochelle for your kind words. So glad you liked it. Combining prompts is not something I’d usually do, but summer pressures mean I’m struggling for time (as are we all, not least yourself! )
      That widow etymology is interesting, isn’t it? I liked Straw Widow too – hadn’t heard that phrase before.
      Thanks again for the kind words – and for the lovely prompt photo. All the best

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lynne, I’m not sure your story really classifies as using two prompts. 😉 Using the word for your title was a brilliant idea. Some of the…most of the stories I’ve read using multiple prompts are like trying to sort through knotted threads of one color or trying to make sense of a train wreck.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Haha! Yes, I know what you mean. I wrote the story for Fictioneers and stole one of the words from it to look at its etymology. I’ve seen stories like the ones you describe too – they’re often not entirely satisfactory for either prompt. 🙂


    1. Thank you so much, Bjorn – you’re very kind. The widow / wives section at the end just came to me and fell together nicely. Thanks for reading 🙂


  2. Oh, so well written. I could just envision myself standing on the shore, seeing the pieces of boat come ashore. And oh, beyond to when the bodies started popping up. Such a horrible and heartbreaking disaster. I read and think of Louisiana at the moment, waiting for flood to recede and the death that always comes in the aftermath. It calls me to prayers for the survivors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much. Yes, horrible events, all through the centuries and up to the present day. The tragic events happening in Louisiana are sadly nothing new, but no less tragic for that.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sandra. I very much appreciate that. This one flowed, not sure why, but it came pretty easily. Not always the way, is it, but when it is, it’s a joy. Thanks again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No wives remained, only widows. What a powerful ending to a fantastic, atmospheric story. I also love the etymology. Great work, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a powerful sculpture, isn’t it? Those hollow-eyed faces – you can feel the fear pouring off them. Thank you for sharing it.
      And thank you for your comments – can’t imagine being those women, waiting every time to see if their husbands come home safely, as so often they didn’t. Fisherman is still one of the most dangerous jobs even now. There’s no way to make the sea safer, is there?
      Thanks so much for reading 🙂


  4. Echoing everyone else – heartbreaking, beautiful description, love the ending. Nice etymology in the notes too — I might have to think of a way to use “grass widow” in my stories now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Yes, I like grass widow too – never heard of it before. Plenty of options on how to use it as the meaning changed subtly over the years. Thanks for reading and glad you liked it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Liz. I’m sure you’re right, that the phrase has been adopted to mean different things over time. It’s a good phrase and I like it alot. Must use it in a story 🙂


    1. Thank you so much Margaret. I enjoy choosing images that help evoke emotions. And I liked the idea that the women splintered along with the boats that carried their men. Thank you very much for your kind comment and for reading 🙂


    1. Thank you so much, Michael. I’ve always thought what a terrible life that must be, always waiting to see if your loved one is going to survive the next trip. Thanks so much for reading 🙂


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