Friday Fictioneers: Silhouette

Welcome again to Friday Fictioneers, where writers across the world come together to share stories inspired by a single photo prompt offered via Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ lovely website, Addicted to Purple.

Today’s photo by Doug MacIlroy… well, if you know me well, you’ll understand why it filled me with a gentle whirlwind of emotion. If you are intimately connected to me and to the story you know will follow, I suggest either stop reading now or proceed with tissues. If you do not know me well, just know that “it’s okay.” I smiled as I wrote this – and cried a little, also – and I hope you will, too.Copyright -Douglas M. MacIlroy

Copyright –Douglas M. MacIlroy


“You killed my sister.”

“Broke your arm, too.” Grass falls from his mouth as he speaks. The crack of bone resounds in my memory, followed by my delirious songs and my sister’s soothing words. He whinnies. “What a ride, though.”

“Yeah.” I smile, sure that in his mind, as in mine, we again gallop across a wide pasture, trying to catch Michele and Ducky.

“About that other thing,” he says.

“Yeah, I know,” I say. “No one’s to blame.”

“Here.” He lifts the hose with his teeth.

I put it to my lips, and something deeper than water enters my soul.


The truth behind the story:

First of all, I never had this conversation with a horse, at least not face to face. The reality is that after my sister’s funeral, I never again saw the horse whose hoof had ended her life. Silhouette, by my family’s wishes and her friends’ quiet arrangement, was sent to a horse retirement farm, where I assume he lived a long, happy, wild, and free life.

But it is true that something deeper than water entered my soul when I accepted the grief that was thrust upon me that October day, when I realized that loss was a part of my experience, that I was Other People. So I can say without hesitation that the conversation above could have happened, even though it never did.

That is, of course, if horses could talk… 😉


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40 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: Silhouette

    • As a writer, I thank you. Even while wondering if this piece ought to have had its own voice and style, apart from Angelique’s, I appreciate the idea that I have a recognizable style… assuming that style works! 🙂 Also, I know what you mean about liking feeling awful sometimes. Thanks for that, too.

    • You know, the most difficult parts of posting this were the thoughts that 1) those close to the situation might feel I’d shared something sacred, and 2) those not close to the situation might feel they need to offer sympathy. Not that offering sympathy isn’t appropriate, just that getting sympathy wasn’t the point of posting, if that makes sense… The thing is, tragedy is a part of life, and sometimes its memory pops up at unexpected times, not because we feel miserable, but because it’s part of the larger story. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

    • Okay, this made me laugh a little! 🙂 On a literary level, I suppose the horse is kind of bummed about what happened, even though there isn’t much he could have done to stop it. Both characters have this wistful regret in which they appreciate the joy of an era that ended in a horrible tragedy that altered the course of each of their lives. I imagine them meeting years after the event, with a quiet understanding of mutual loss softened by time and new joys. Not to be all personal or anything… that’s just what I imagine… 😉

  1. What a good way to make use of a tragedy in your life, although I’m certainly sorry you had to have the real part of the story happen! Hopefully in some very small way, writing about it, in both ways, helps.


  2. So sorry for your loss. I think you’ve got the same touch with this story as you do with the Angelique ones – it’s difficult to strike the right balance when you enter the realms of death, loss and suffering, but you seem to have that aspect nailed. Lovely.

    • Thank you, Sandra. It’s interesting, because a few years ago, I thought – given my experience with death and grief – it might be interesting to write something having to do with death/loss/grief… sort of a memoir-ish thing. I don’t know that I even thought of that as I began Angelique, but now…I don’t know… I guess I just wonder if Angelique might have been just the project I was hoping for, even before I realized it. Thank you for your comment today, and your support of Angelique from her earliest days! 🙂

  3. I am impressed you took this event as you did. Too many times there is no growth but only destruction following such a tragedy. I know you will miss your sister as i miss my brother.

    • It’s been 13 1/2 years, so I’ve had a little time to think about things… and time to build a new and wonderful life that I wouldn’t, couldn’t trade for anything. That helps a lot. I’m so to hear about your brother. It’s so hard to lose a sibling. No one knows you in quite the same way.

  4. You are wise. When one is full of grief sometimes it helps to talk and forgive the one who filled you full of that grief even unintensionally. You had the conversation you needed to have in your head, but also in your heart. Well written and shows the emotion behind the words.

  5. Dear Lisa,

    Have you ever watched True Grit? (John Wayne version.) Remember the scene where Rooster Cogburn is facing off against four riders across the wide clearing and he tells Robert Duvall’s character (Ned Pepper) that he aim’s “to kill him in one minute or see him hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience.”? And Duvall answers in one of the classic lines in film, “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!” Rooster shouts at him to, “Fill your hands you son-of-a-bitch” and the fight is on.

    I have the greatest respect for you and your writing (Angelique is unique and, I see now, a part of you) but when you suggested in your intro to, ‘stop now or proceed with tissues’ what I thought was akin to, “That’s bold talk for a one-eyed fat man”, the reason being that most writers who say that are only wishing and i have read too many of them to believe it.

    I pushed on and have to tell you that when I was done reading I was crying. (I’ve seen my fair share of the world and what it can lay on a person and I’m in touch with my feelings and emotions. Not ashamed of crying and happy to be made to at times.)

    The reason I was crying was partly in empathy for you, your sister and Silhouette and partly because I felt myself drinking from that hose and having that conversation. I am still tearing up long into the writing of this ‘comment’ and that is a testament to your ability as a writer and observer and to your strength as as a person to whom life has not, at times, been kind.

    You pulled off something really grand here and though the audience is limited in the larger scheme of things, you ought to take note of the responses you’ve gotten from those who have read your story, for if you persevere, you may find your audience getting much larger. It is by far the best story this week and I’m very partial to at least three others from very good writers. It is also one of the best I’ve ever read in my two odd years of Friday Fictioneers.

    In the words of Ned Pepper, you “shot me all to pieces.” Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this story so damn well.

    [When I wrote mine I got a lot of sympathetic reactions and like you, I didn’t share my story to garner those responses, but, also like you, I’m not going to speak ill of those who offer solace. I do miss Mystic and always will, but nowhere near the way you must miss your sister. Your sharing of this story has made a mark on my life and that is the best reason to share those deep and personal moments that might give you pause before you hit the “publish post” button. I, for one, am glad you did.]

    I’ll be following you wherever you go and will be reading whatever you write. Looking forward to the ride.




    • Doug, thank you for this comment. The caution to “stop reading or proceed with tissues” was meant for any close friends or family who might have been upset by the subject matter. I agree that too many people issue such warnings or hold such expectations without following through, so as a general rule, I don’t expect people to cry. It always surprises and humbles me a bit when they do. So, on this end, thank you for pushing through the warning, being touched by my experience and writing, and sharing your thoughts. The goal of writing, I think, is -at least in part – to express those depths of the human soul that can be so difficult to explain, and somehow to connect ourselves to one another, regardless of time and space. Okay, maybe that sounds stuffy, but I’m thinking of all the books I’ve read by people long dead… How they’ve moved me and helped me to grasp certain realities…and how they kind of feel like friends. 🙂 Anyhow, your comments, and this one in particular, encourage me to write more diligently, more soulfully, more boldly. Thank you.

  6. Your story really drew me in with the first couple lines. Nice writing! The personal connection to the story made me almost weep. I hope the writing is cathartic for you. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    • Thank you for the comment and the thoughts. It’s been over thirteen years, and during that time, I have found so very, very much for which to thank God, including the ability still to feel grief all these years later.

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