[Write On Wednesday] Fool’s Errand

This week a major art discovery was made in Bavaria: a hoard of 1000+ art works (many by masters like Chagall and Renoir) was found in the apartment of the son of an art dealer.

These art works, it is thought, were ‘lost’ during WWII (i.e. looted, forced sales, etc.). 70 years on, many of these works must surely have been forgotten about entirely. For certain, many have never been seen by art historians. But there have been people who have pursued this type of art down through the decades since the war ended.

Which got me thinking. There have been many people who mourned, pursued and talked about this art down through the decades since the war ended. As time passed, they may have gone from sounding like crusaders to sounding like cranks. How must they have felt yesterday, when this hoard was revealed?

The Prompt

Write a story that features an obsessed character who is suddenly, unexpectedly vindicated.


  • The story can share the moment at which the vindication happens or it can happen afterwards (or perhaps even slightly before. Wouldn’t it be fun to let the reader see the vindication coming, but leave the story just before it does?)
  • Character is all in this story. It doesn’t really matter WHAT your character is obsessed with/paranoid about. The interesting parts happen in their interactions with the doubters and believers around them.
  • What would it do to a family, or a relationship, to have one member who was obsessed with an increasingly-outlandish idea through the years?
  • If you’re struggling for a topic, don’t forget the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination is coming up on Nov 23…


2 thoughts on “[Write On Wednesday] Fool’s Errand”

  1. I wrote this on the original post date (11.06.13) in 15-20 minutes while my high schoolers were writing. I am just getting to post it. I enjoy writing to the weekly prompts– thank you for doing this!

    “I did too.”
    “No, you didn’t; you only thought you did.” Joey shoved a spoonful of dripping cereal into his mouth as only an older brother could, and crunched while wiping his chin with the back of his hand sagely.
    “I know what I saw.”
    Joey shook his head and mumbled a nuh-uh with a resolute finality of the matter. It was punctuated with the clattering of his spoon in the bowl and furthermore by his standing up, placing the dish in the sink, and walking out the room without pushing in his chair.
    “I did see it,” Kyle said to himself as he pushed first his, and then his brother’s, chair in. He rinsed both bowls and would have put them in the dishwasher had he known the state the existing dishes were in. He put away the milk and cereal even rolling tight the plastic bag inside. He used his sleeve to wipe up the rings of milk on the table.
    In the living room sat Joey. Cross-legged he was looking at the tree they had decorated the day before. “You know it’s mom and dad who move the elf on a shelf, don’t you?” he asked cryptically.
    Kyle rolled his eyes, “Yes, Joey. Known it for years.”
    This broke Joey’s sage-like stance for only a moment. “Liar.” A moment, after gathering himself, he continued, “So, if mom and dad move the elf on the shelf, he’s not reporting to Santa. Because he’s. Not. Real. If elves aren’t real,” Joey looked askance at Kyle, “it’s clear that Santa’s not either.” He let the weight of his words lay on the room.
    Kyle felt his heart thump and eyes begin to burn. He wanted to collapse.
    “So if Santa’s not real, who brings our presents Kyle? Why are they wrapped with the same appear as all the other ones? Mom and dad, Kyle. Mom and dad play Santa.”
    All of Kyle’s air had left the vicinity. Every ounce of energy was being spent on no imploding. He knew what he saw last night.
    And then it occurred to him.
    Blood returned to his veins.
    “Dad puts out our presents?”
    “Yep.” (With a satisfied pop of the P.)
    “Then I did too see it.”
    “Kyle…” The sagely wisdom rose in his voice.
    “I did too. I did too see mommy kissing Santa Claus!”

    1. I really enjoyed this. I liked the way you drew Joey as the slightly-jerky big brother (leaving the dish in the sink, even!) and Kyle is just sweet, but he wins!

      I think you captured them really well, and I loved the suspense and then the ‘reveal’ at the end, which made me smile. What a great, quick story! Well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The StoryADay

I, WRITER Course


A 6-part journey through the short story.

Starts July 28, 2023