Three Line Tales : As long as it hurts to give

three line tales week 58: a man behind a fence

photo by Jake Oates via Unsplash


Every day they come. Scarred lifers  worn out, worn through as the soles of old shoes; fresh-faced first timers who haven’t learned yet to tuck away the fear, to use it as armour against the horrors of slopping out, of hot breath on the back of their neck, of cold steel in their ribs.

They push their payment through the diamonds in the fence. Could be a long saved snout or their last chocolate bar, ancient and soft as bread dough; could be a letter with the scent of home pressed in each worn crease, or a blurry photograph of a round-faced child; their fading mother. No payment is too small or large – as long as it hurts to give.

When the exchange is done, they step forward, nervous, excited, yearning. Softly, they press their ear against the fence and I begin. ‘Once upon a time …’


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. See the pic and write a story. See here to join in and to read the other TLTs.


14 thoughts on “Three Line Tales : As long as it hurts to give

  1. When I was out for dinner Friday night with Dawn we parked by a house with a chain link fence like that, and I thought wow, I haven’t seen chain link fences like that in a time. The photo is super, fun to watch you having fun with the alliteration too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bill. Yes, those fences aren’t as fashionable as they used to be. Most people here tend to use something more solid for a barrier like brick or fencing – I think we’re happier making sure we can keep our neighbours out! 🙂


    1. Thank you Carl. I liked that idea, that the men were pushed so far by their awful reality that disappearing into a fantasy world for a few minutes was worth anything they could afford ot pay. Thanks so mcuh for reading

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Chris for the wonderful comment. I’m so glad you thought that about this story. It was one of those odd ones that just rolled out, very quickly, very easily – ah, if only they were all written that way! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is something so deeply unpleasant about the narrator of this story, in the mould of the black marketeers, informers, people traffickers, slavers and all those who profit from human misery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you have a good point there that no one else seems to have picked up on. The storyteller is definitely exploiting his market. Not necessarily for a large profit, but for something that will hurt in the giving. There’s a ruthlessness there, very true. Enjoys the power, I suspect.


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