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January 2009 Flashers

Flash Fiction written by members and friends of the MuseItUp Club. Submissions are invited for this page.*




Turning Point


by  Dawn Boeder Johnson




An elderly couple left Bill Pennington’s office. I tried not to stare.


“That Bill is an awful person,” the woman said, sniffling.


“He’s just doin’ his job, dear. Don’t take it out on him.” The man grasped her elbow and guided her toward the exit. She wept into her handkerchief.


“Next!” shouted a male voice.


I looked at the letter in my hand. What opinion would I have of Mr. Pennington?  My body felt numb as I stood and walked through the door. 
“I’ll bet you hear that a hundred times a day,” I said, settling into the proffered chair.


“What?” Bill asked. “Oh, that woman’s remark? Yeah, I suppose.” He selected a file from the stack on his right. “You’re Lilly Harrison … my name's Bill. How can I help you?”


“I’m here about this notice.” I opened the letter. “My husband hurt his back at work. His disability payments barely cover our bills. The restaurant where I waitress won’t give me more hours and…”


He thumbed through the folder. “You’ve really gotten behind on your payments.”


“Yes, I know. We’ve been trying to pay what we can but—”


“We’re proceeding with foreclosure. You have thirty days to bring your account up to date or you’ll have to vacate the residence.”


“Vacate to where? Landlords want two months’ rent and a security deposit. If we had that kind of money—”


“That’s not our concern.” He closed the file. “Perhaps you can borrow the money from a family member.”


“Who? My mother lives with us, and Danny’s family can’t help. We have two small children. We’ll be living on the street.” My eyes filled with tears.


“I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.” Bill slid a tissue box across the desk. “You’ve had many opportunities to rectify this situation. We have the right to sell your home to recoup the balance of the loan.”


I tugged two tissues from the box and blew my nose. “But if we can’t—”


The phone beeped. Bill grabbed the receiver.


“This is Bill.” He smiled. “Hi, yourself. I’m with a customer. Can’t this wait?” His brow furrowed. “All right, hold on.” He pushed the hold button. “I’m sorry for the interruption. I’ll just be a moment.”


I grabbed another tissue.


Bill resumed the call. “Okay, what’s so important?” His lips pressed into a tight line as he listened. “Calm down and try to rest. I’ll be home soon. I love you.” He replaced the receiver and looked at me. “I’m sorry. Where were we?”


“You’re taking away our home.”


“Look, I wish I could help you, but my hands are tied. You signed an agreement and we have every right to…” His face went pale.


“You okay?”


“God, I hate this job.” He rubbed his forehead. “Some title, Financial Counselor. I thought I’d get to help people. Actually, I’m their last stop before they lose everything, and…”


“And what?”


“Now my wife tells me we’ve gotten a foreclosure notice. Her treatment for lymphoma used all our savings, and then my company downsized. I’ve only had this job a few months, and we’ve been juggling medical bills and mortgage payments.”


I pushed the tissue box toward him. “Maybe you can borrow money from a family member.”


His teary gaze met mine and he smiled. “You’re a gem, Lilly. Truth is, my problems are just as big as anyone else’s, and my heart breaks for each customer I meet. They come here hoping I can help, but that’s a lie. The company tells me to be kind but impersonal. In reality, I’m just here to cover their heartless corporate attitude. Well … that stops today.” He took a form from his desk drawer and picked up his pen. “We have a special program for hardships. There’s a slim chance your husband’s disability will qualify.”


I returned his smile. “That woman was wrong, Bill.”


He looked up from the form. “How’s that?”


“I think you’re a nice person.”


“Thanks. Maybe I can put that on my resume.”





Since graduating with a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin, Dawn Boeder Johnson has been a graphic designer, marketing professional, and museum director. This diversity allowed her to explore many subjects and provided fodder for her active imagination. In her heart, she has always been a writer—since the day she published three hand-written copies of a family newspaper when she was barely old enough to construct a sentence. These days, her time is divided between family and writing—her two greatest loves. Dawn lives in northern Illinois, USA, with her family. She is currently immersed in creating a novel she just can’t put down!




*Send Flash Fiction submissions to .

Please include the words “Muse Marquee Flash Submission” in the subject line.


The Flashers page is edited by Les Stephenson.