© Michelle De Angelis.

The beautiful park, the gentle couple strolling just ahead of him, the cool of the summer evening only made a dull impression on him, all because her blood had added one more stain to his soul.

“She was only three years old, God. Why did that butcher have to murder her?”

Detective Keith Simmons was due to retire soon. This would be his last murder investigation and he thought he’d seen it all. Then he saw the blood and her torn, battered body.

He suppressed sorrow and summoned rage. Prison was too good for that scumbag. There was a better justice.

“Excuse me.” He looked up and saw one of the people who had been ahead of him. “I believe you could benefit from this.”

Keith mutely accepted the note she was holding. As she turned back and started walking with her companion again, he unfolded it and read, “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.”

Tomorrow, he’d visit the child’s family again. It was his first stepping stone.

I wrote this for the 172th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

Yesterday, I read a news account (actually several) about how a man with a knife attacked nine people, six of them children, at a girl’s third birthday party. The three year old died.

After reading it, I wrote my own commentary, feeling the hope being drained out of life because of such events.

Today, I’m trying to be a bit more optimistic and not let things like this defeat my spirit. It isn’t easy.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

Hope is Being Sucked Out of Life One Person at a Time


A Boise mass stabbing left nine people hurt, including six children, after a man attacked a 3-year-old’s birthday party on Saturday, June 30, at an apartment complex near West State Street and Wylie Lane. Four of the victims were critically injured.

I don’t know if I successfully communicate this on my blog, but I do try to understand people who aren’t like me. I may not always agree with them, but I want to know where they’re coming from. After all, I’m not the sole source of human knowledge, and I’m not the ultimate moral and ethical authority in the universe. I suppose my efforts are wasted, at least with a few folks who really, really need the world to be polarized, and if you aren’t like them, you’re evil. Nevertheless, I do want to get some sort of comprehension about people, even those who (probably) hate me.

This stuff like this happens and it sucks all of the hope out of the room. Really, I’m suffocating.

A 30-year-old guy was staying in an apartment complex in Boise, Idaho near where I live. He’s from Los Angeles, and I can’t really glean from the news stories why he was here in the first place. Apparently, there was some sort of trouble with the apartment manager and/or tenants, and he was asked to leave.

So what is his response? He gets a knife and, targeting a child’s birthday party, stabs nine people, including the birthday girl who was turning three. She was flown to Salt Lake City for treatment and just died of her injuries.

A three-year-old little girl is dead and for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

The suspect is in custody and being held without bail. The victims were all recent immigrants from Ethiopia, Iraq, and Syria. All they wanted was to escape the violence of their countries and make a new life here in the U.S. This guy (I won’t honor him by posting his name or photo) took away the hope they found here.

Every time something like this happens, my faith in humanity diminishes just a little bit more, I become more cynical, and I become more like the pundits on social media who demand the (metaphorical) heads of their enemies on a platter just because they dared to disagree with them.

I know we live in an evil world and human nature isn’t really a great nature. We have to work hard to overcome the lowest levels of who we can be. Apparently, this person didn’t feel like working that hard and now a three-year-old girl is dead.

My granddaughter turned three last week.

I don’t know what to say. I don’t like people very much right now.