Of A Mind

Andy is doing a Tuesday writing prompt so of course I jumped on board. I’m working on developing a thicker skin so I’m asking for critique on this. Keep it constructive!

Prompt: Guilty Conscience
Length: 200 words

“What’s all this about? It’s not my birthday?”

The pleasure at his “surprise present” was disappearing as she narrowed her eyes on him. He worked hard to keep the easy smile on his face, even a flinch would crack his mask.

“Just because, baby.” He smoothed a lock of hair behind her ear, his mind noting that it didn’t feel anything like Tracy’s. Shaking the damning thought from his mind, he pulled her into his arms. “Can’t I get my wife a present without having a reason?”

He could feel the disbelief rolling off her. This unexpected gift was a fluke and they both knew it, but he prayed she’d let it lie.

When she relaxed against him, he almost sighed with relief. The tension leaked out like water flowing out a faucet as he realized he dodged that bullet. If she found out, if she knew, he’d be in deep doo.

She shouldn’t have found the box. A prick of something that wasn’t quite guilt nagged him, but he pushed it away. His wife could find the jewelry meant for someone else as long as she never found out about the someone else meant to receive the jewelry.


  1. Nice little twist. He’s not even giving a gift to soothe that nagging conscience but palming off the damning evidence that his wife discovered in order to keep his sweetheart a secret. Good stuff and a a nice take on the prompt.

    I do have one slight suggestion. There is one spot where you use the word “relief” twice in close proximity (When she relaxed against him, he almost sighed with relief. The tension leaked out like water flowing out as his relief at dodging a bullet hit him. ) Maybe in that second instance you could use something different: “The tension leaked out like water flowing out as the realization of dodging a bullet hit him.”

    By the way, I love that image of tension being released like a flood of water. Great stuff and thanks for taking up the challenge!

  2. Nicely done!
    Good imagery, great concept/story and well put together all in all.
    No serious criticism except to note that linguistic choices (like using “relief” twice too close at one point or ending the last sentence with “to”) could be avoided to make it a nicer read and less likely to provoke the lingo-nazis out there! 😉

  3. Ah, I thought that’s where this was going! I hope she figures it out later on (or at least keeps pretending to not know, and just keeps on “accidentally” finding the gifts instead)

  4. I really loathed this guy. Nice! 🙂
    Con-crit: “A prick of something remarkably similar to guilt hit him…” –> this is vague, and makes me think “why not just use the word guilt, if it’s remarkably similar?” But when I read the comments, you explained it differently: that you knew this guy and he didn’t actually feel guilty. “Less-than-guilt” is a different sentiment than “guilt,” or “remarkably-similar-to-guilt.” (I know this sounds very nit-picky of me, but you asked for comments, and it’s all I had.)

      1. “A prick of something that wasn’t quite guilt…”
        or “A prick of something.that wasn’t evolved enough to be guilt…”
        or “A prick of concern…”

        (Just ideas.)

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