The Familiar Man: A Short Story

the familiar man

I’ve decided to hide this fiction within the blog and maybe some of you can enjoy the read.

The Familiar Man

Ellen stood quietly with tears running down her face. Her mother had recently passed and the ceremony was reaching its end. A man had approached Ellen at her side and offered her a handkerchief.

She looked up at the man and thanked him as she wiped her face clean. She got a good look at him. He was a handsome man who wore a black suit with a formal red shirt. He said with the most sincere tone:

“I’m truly sorry for your loss, I’m sure she lived a happy life.”

“Yes, she did. But I could never have imagined that this would happen. It’s all so sudden.” Ellen replied.

“It’s completely normal to mourn over a lost loved one but you should know she is in a better place now” he said with a soft tone.

“I know. But this has never happened to me before, I feel so lost…”

Ellen’s sister Kate had noticed the man who approached her. Minutes after her own conversations had died down she decided to collect her sister so they could leave. She walked up to Ellen and noticed her smiling at the man wearing black and red.

“Ellen it’s time to go” Kate said unpleasantly. The man was stopped in mid conversation and gave a quick look at Kate. It became apparent that he was displeased. Ellen’s eyes had lit up in surprise and looked in Kate’s direction.

“Oh! Well okay.” Ellen had quickly turned to the man and said “Goodbye and thank you” with a face of excitement. As they walked away Kate looked back at the man, he glared at her sharply. As Kate returned forward Ellen peeked behind and was intoxicated by the man’s grin.

“What a nice guy” Ellen said to break the silence on the way home. Fairly annoyed Kate responded with fake curiosity. “That man… I can’t believe I didn’t get his name! Maybe I’ve seen him before! I should have gotten his number! Sure hope to see him agai-“

“I can’t believe you! At your own mother’s funeral!” Kate shouted with disgust.

“What!?” Ellen responded. “I am so disappointed in you! How can you let that man distract you from Mom?!” Kate’s shouts had gotten louder. The arguing continued until Ellen had finally apologized and all that could be heard was the sudden rain.

Later unable to stay mad at her younger sister, Kate looked at Ellen, who had become lost in deep thought and sighed, “I’m sure you’ll see that man again someday”.

With an expressionless face she looked at Kate and said “I hope it’s real soon,” and returned her gaze to the grey drizzled horizon. “He seems so familiar”.

A few days later Ellen found herself paying her last respects to another body.

She wasn’t crying and she hadn’t been since her mother’s death. As she watched others line up an old woman walked up to her.

“Oh Ellen it must be so hard on you. What exactly happened to her? I heard it may not have been from natural causes,” the old woman asked “and dear, there’s no need to look so strong, we know you loved her dearly and this is the best time to let it out”.

Almost looking completely uninterested in what the woman had to say she eventually responded. “Thank you for your concern and no it wasn’t from natural causes”

“Well they will capture whoever had done it soon enough my dear” the old lady said. To which Ellen responded with a nod.

Outside Ellen quietly looked beyond her sister’s grave. Then she began to pace back and forth in front of her mother and Kate. Every passing moment frustration and anxiety had tormented her.

People began to leave and when they all had gone she began to sob wondering why things had turn out this way. Then she had remembered that devilish grin. It was something that she couldn’t erase from her mind.

The following day knocks on Ellen’s front door had taken her to a courtroom.

It was then that she most remembered her mother’s funeral and the handsome man’s toxic smile. It was in front of the jury that she allowed herself to break down and suddenly cry over her sister’s death. The judge looked at her with a face of complete awe as he asked “Why did you do it?”

Silence filled the room and Ellen replied “I was hoping he would come back”.


  1. This is a poignant story! A sad and brutal story A story about pain, loneliness, helplessness and misunderstandings that makes you look deep into the soul of Ellen. In the moment of greatest grief, she meets someone who is doing her good. At first glance. She is fascinated, despite grief. Their feelings are greater than grief, loneliness, and helplessness. Their feelings are their motive. Your thoughts are confused. Looking at the situations steered from their goal. Her perception tarnished. She has created her own truth and destroyed her entire life with a single action.
    The perhaps hopeful, encouraging smile of the man has turned her into a poisonous smile. Blind, driven by her wishes, she murdered her sister. This is hard!

  2. Hey, love the story. I really enjoy the way it is written. The actual plot is something I’ve heard before. It is a question someone asked me once to see if I was a sociopath. I’ve never seen someone turn that question into a story. I really enjoy the outcome. Had you heard the question before you wrote this and is that what this is based on?

    • It was the inspiration for it. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. For readers scrolling onto the comments, if you’re interested in more quality short stories, I recommend

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