Better Late

Every Friday authors from around the world gather here to share their 100-words and offer constructive crit and encouragement to each other. This creates a wonderful opportunity for free reading of very fresh fiction! Readers are encouraged to comment as well.


Frank could not abide being late: febrile rants, tears and broken crockery expended to batter the world into submission and timeliness. His doctor at the sanatorium said he was better in society than institutionalised; that he wasn’t a danger to himself or others; OCD was manageable.
The library was open at nine, so Frank just had to be there, waiting for them to open. No amount of persuasion would deflect him. He could not wait at the level crossing whilst the slow freight-train passed. Trying to vault over the carriages’ coupling was ill-advised. Better late than never.

PHOTO PROMPT – © Jennifer Pendergast

get the InLinkz code


About micklively

Fifty-something, pacifist, six sigma black belt, lean implementer, brewer, vintner, guitarist, wood-turner, and slave to collies.
This entry was posted in death, fiction, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Better Late

  1. Crossing a railway crossing with OCD is definitely ill-advised.. the doctor should know better…

    • micklively says:

      Care in the community says they’re on their own, without constant medical intervention. Level crossings are a fact of life in this city.
      Many thanks Bjoern.

  2. Oh dear, this could be me! I hate being late for anything.

  3. IB Arora says:

    well built up, nice story

  4. erinleary says:

    Given the choice between alive and late or dead and on time, i’ll go with late. Great story with the appropriate amount of urgency.

  5. Taygibay says:

    Two points for the closing pun, Tay!

  6. phylor says:

    Poor fellow. Perhaps he wasn’t quite ready to rejoin society after all!
    Great take on the prompt.

  7. A few years ago I had some students from New Guinea who told me of their difficulty in adjusting to the western idea of punctuality. They said at home they operated on ‘New Guinea time’, which sounded much more relaxed, and I thought I’d fit right in with that. Poor Frank. Your story is a great response to the prompt – original and engaging.

    • micklively says:

      I believe in punctuality. Time is precious and lateness messes everyone’s plans. Mental illness is a different matter though.
      Thanks for your feedback Margaret.

  8. Dee says:

    There’s late and there’s late… great build up to an ending I was hoping would be different, but guess Frank would do things his way. I had a schoolfriend who used to have to walk on every crack in the paving stones, no-one knew about OCD then and we all just though she was a bit weird.

    • micklively says:

      Many mental illnesses had different names years ago. I think some still do. For example: I think “homeless” is a very convenient title.
      Many thanks for your feedback Denise.

  9. milliethom says:

    I like the way you put us inside Frank’s head and able to feel his anxiety. I’ve always hated being late and usually end up at places half an hour early. But, in unavoidable situations I fully agree with the ‘better late than never’ idea. (Have you ever tried getting through Lincoln with its array of level crossings?) Fortunately, I’ve never suffered Frank’s panics or ‘febrile rants’ – as you so beautifully put it. Very well written. 🙂

  10. Amy Reese says:

    I guess he couldn’t be stopped. Better never. That’s a great line. And nice build up to a surprising ending. I didn’t expect death. Great story, Mick.

  11. Alice Audrey says:

    So he was a danger to himself after all. At least he didn’t take anyone down with him.

  12. Wow, look at all your comments. You’re becoming a master at these. I too hate being late. When I was younger and knew I’d never get to a place on time, I’d just not go. It was nutty. If I couldn’t be perfect than I wasn’t allowed to participate, all my own craziness mind you. That picture was an interesting one.

  13. Creatopath says:

    Great story, Mick. Better late, than dead.

  14. rgayer55 says:

    We have a term here known as “fashionably late.” I doubt Frank would appreciate my aversion to laziness and procrastination either. Great story, Mick. I’ve worked with some folks with OCD. It can be difficult on all parties.

  15. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Mick,

    Broken crockery is fine, but to avoid a missing limb or three, well, sometimes being late is the better call. Well done.



  16. Our family’s mantra “On time is when I get there…” 😉 Like the double-meaning of “late” as others have mentioned.

  17. Thanks to you Mick, now I’m obsessed with “Of Mice and Men”. 🙂

  18. Mick,
    I felt Frank’s anxiety and impatience while I read this. Wow, I was in his head even at the tracks. That’s what fiction should do and you did it brilliantly.

  19. Dear Mick,

    This story rings too true for comfort. I wouldn’t want to be in that doctor’s position in any case. Well done, sir.



  20. I cringe to think of how this ends. I think that doctor did not truly understand him. I was waiting for the librarian to be late and for him to start a war. Nice story.

    • micklively says:

      I guess doctors can despair in the face of chronic incurables. I think “care in the community” is a good thing: institutionalising folk is no answer BUT there has to be care. “Reneging in the community” is bad for all concerned.
      Many thanks David.

      • Having worked in psychiatry in one of the big institutions during Thatcher’s reign, I so agree with what you’re saying here, Mick. In my hospital finals, I wrote: “In theory community care is a grand idea, but in practice it is likely that many vulnerable people will fall through the net due to Government underfunding”. My nurse tutor gave me 95% for that answer, while warning me not to say anything like that in my state finals, as they’d fail me!
        Your story illustrates so well just how vulnerable people suffering from psychiatric illness are, without proper care and supervision. You certainly can’t just shove them out into the community and necessarily expect them to survive.

  21. Francesca Smith says:

    Although OCD can be manageable, it is a tough cycle for a person to break.
    Good story, and I hope Frank turned up okay.

  22. elmowrites says:

    Sounds like he was a different kind of late in the end – you’ve done a good job of building this up to its sad conclusion. I can’t abide being late either…

  23. Lynda says:

    What a vision! Poor Frank.

  24. I guess living with OCD can’t be easy, and your story nicely highlights the importance of taking proper care of those!

    • micklively says:

      It must be quite debilitating. I recall seeing a bloke who had to touch every door he saw. It took him hours to walk down the street and folk avoided him as though his condition was contagious. Such a shame.
      Many thanks for your feedback.

  25. You paint an interesting picture (situation) here. Nicely done!

  26. gahlearner says:

    I hate being late, too, but this… Poor Frank. Better late, indeed.

  27. Oh, Frank…didn’t you know time is the most valuable commodity? I like how our stories lean on each other on a subject of time. Nicely done.

  28. Sandra says:

    Frank has been uncoupled, I fear. That was a good take on the prompt – coupling. I wish I’d thought of that…

  29. I too hate being late, but this is pretty extreme! Great story.

  30. A bit of a lesson for the doctor in the sanatorium – the ‘Compulsive’ part of OCD is not to be ignored! Well told:)

    BTW – It looks like there is an extra (or missing) word that slipped through the edit net at the end of the first paragraph? OCD was a manageable

I will be pleased to read your thoughts, even if you don't agree.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s