Crumbs and Secrets

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This is fiction.



We sit outside at the cafe. I’ve got a cigarette in my shaking hand. With his mouth full of food he says, “I promise I’m not trying to get in your pants.”

I inhale deeply on my cigarette, the familiar buzzing begins in my brain.

A few yards away I see a girl with a purple scarf around her neck, her hair in a loose bun. I bet she’s never had this kind of conversation. I bet if I talked more to people like her I’d never have gotten into this mess.

I blow the smoke out, stalling. He continues to eat greedily. I push cake crumbs around my plate.

Bunny Crumb

photo credit

“Will you help me?” he asks, still chewing, his eyes glued to the food he’s scooping from his plate.

I need to help him, I need the money. But he can’t afford it. I tell him so.

“Can’t we work something out?” he teases as I feel his hand on my leg underneath the table.

“You still owe me from the job in Queens,” I remind him, shifting my leg out of his reach.

“Actually, here’s half of that,” he says, scooting a small satchel across the floor towards me. I wasn’t expecting this. Hell, I was hoping he wouldn’t have the fucking money and that would be the end of it, my out. Next thing I know I’m tucking the bag into my lap.

“I’ll get you the rest next week,” he adds, tossing some crumpled bills onto the table. “My guy’ll call you with the details tonight.” He swipes a paper napkin across his mouth. And then he’s gone.

I grab all my stuff and head out, the drizzle dampening my dirty hair.

Time to get the kids from school. They ask me what smells funny. I say it must be coming from outside, someone smoking, ewwwwwww. We go through the motions: homework, snacks, fighting, making messes, my yelling at them to clean up. I force them into the shower and I escape to fold laundry.

A half-torn receipt is in the barrel of the dryer. It’s from two nights ago, Ruth’s Chris. What the fuck, we haven’t been there in years even though it’s minutes from our house. And it’s then that I remember two nights ago Matt was in Portland. For a deposition.

“Can’t send one of the associates,” he’d said when I balked at the last minute notice.

“Can’t trust any of ’em not to fuck it up. So guess who has to handle it?” He’d acted all pissed off while he packed hurriedly and then I felt sorry for him.

Down the hall the shower’s still running and the kids are shrieking. I grab my pack of cigarettes from the kitchen and light up right there. I don’t sneak out to the back porch. I don’t use my secret ashtray, just an old drinking glass. Slowly I walk over to the wet bar and grab the bottle of Absolut. After an extra long swig, my throat and stomach burn. My body revolts almost instantly, sending it right back up. The puke stares back at me from the sink. I laugh and leave it there.

I light another cigarette. And another. And another.

One of the boys comes down and walks in, clamps his hand over his face and I hear a muffled, “What is that sm….” and breaks off when he sees me sitting in the cloud.

“Mom, what are you doing?”

I cannot speak.

“Mom, what’s wrong? I didn’t know you smoked,” Ben says.

“I don’t. Please go to your room and play,” I say. He stares at me without moving. He’s dripping water all over the floor.

“GO!” I bellow, pointing. I watch the wet footprints he leaves.

I thought I was the only one with a secret life. Apparently Matt’s got his own gig going on.

Can our marriage survive TWO secrets?

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  • TLanceB

    Other than some word subsitutions, this is great. I like the duplicity. There’s a modern noir feel to it. I would read pages and pages of this. Look at you getting your fiction on.

    • Erin Margolin

      would love your real take on it if you want to email me privately?

      • TLanceB

        well, i meant what I wrote but sure. just email me when you can

  • From Tracie

    Intrigue! I love it.

    I want more. And more.

    • Erin Margolin

      Thanks, Tracie—you’re so good to me. xoxo

  • Denise Ullem

    Totally intrigued. Wanting to flip the page.

    • Erin Margolin


      Ack! I wish there was a page to flip. Maybe I should work on it. Fiction is so intimidating to me sometimes….thanks for reading and for your support!

  • Neil Kramer

    Liked it. Surprised by it.

    • Erin Margolin

      Thanks, Neil. I dabble in fiction only occasionally because I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. But sometimes I just play around with things rolling around in my head…so this is what came out. I’m grateful you stopped by to read and surprised you liked it. I may even feel slightly giddy over that.

  • Shosh Martyniak

    This needs to be turned into a piece of longer fiction.This needs to be your book. I love a good book about secrets.

    • Erin Margolin


      book? what book? well, maybe i’ll have more time on my hands now….so perhaps a book isn’t that far out of reach. hmmm.

  • Renee Jacobson

    My first thought. I’m concerned. As in, is this real? Are you okay? Then I see the words: This is fiction. So I exhale.


    I’m hooked. You, m’lady. Are. Good.

    This is pay dirt.

    • Erin Margolin

      What is “pay dirt?” Also, yes, I’m okay! totally fiction, but it’s fun to take little snippets of life and let my imagination go…ps. WHEN IS MY POST DUE??? I suck.

  • Jayme


    • Erin Margolin


      Thanks, sweetness! Hope your weekend is going well! xoxo

  • Ally Wilson

    Secrets are a fabulous foundation for good fiction. Loved it!

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you, sweet Ally. I should force myself to do this genre more. And to continue old pieces/threads instead of never touching them again.

  • aboleyn

    Want more!

    • Erin Margolin


      I’m humbled. thank you! I don’t know if there’s more. I can try…I usually write something short like this and am afraid to pick it back up and continue…

  • Tara_pohlkottepress

    slayed it my friend. i love seeing this from you, pushing more like this from myself too. let’s see where we can take this. you bring the cigarettes, i’ll bring my grandparents old love story and somewhere, somehow we’ll make it all make sense.

    • Erin Margolin


      I can’t take a compliment on this from you. Too hard. PLus you used the word “slated,” which is strong. I need to push myself, and I also need to BE pushed. but i’m terrified and…I’ve been busy. But I just got the biggest most stressful thing off my plate. Literally. Today. So maybe….? with more time…and a vow to practice the craft of writing more….?

  • michellelongo

    This is fantastic!! So this is the beginning of a novel you’re writing, right? :)

    • Erin Margolin


      A novel? that makes me laugh….because I feel like I have a novel in my head, but I don’t know how to turn something like this into a novel….thank you so much for your kind words, and for reading, you are a sweetheart.

  • Kimberly M

    You are a wonderful writer…I hope that you truly know that. This kept me captivated throughout the entire piece. Bravo!

    • Erin Margolin


      This is what I was referring to in our DMs over the weekend….triggers….

  • Sarah b

    Erin- I really enjoyed this piece- I always like that sense of interrupting characters’ conversation. I’m not sure if we are supposed to be watching the woman spiral into a nervous breakdown (as not so secret cigarette smoking would imply), or is this just a day in her life? More! Context! Can’t wait!

    Sarah B.

    • Erin Margolin


      I adore you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for leaving me your comments. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to be watching either. It just kinda spilled out of me… ps. when can I see you? I MISS YOU!

  • Lady Jennie

    Painful. Just painful.

    Which means it’s written brilliantly. 😉

    • Erin Margolin

      Thank you so much, Jennie. I need to play around with fiction more often. Gain some confidence…experiment…not be afraid?

  • PamelaFaganHutchins

    I enjoyed it, Erin. Leaves me with questions, wanting to know about her and her secrets. That’s a good thing :)

    • Erin Margolin


      Thanks, friend! I wish I had an answer, but I guess that’s my problem/fear with fiction. I write a little bit and then stop/get scared that the next little bit will suck. ;-(