All Stories, General Fiction

Control by Dorian J. Sinnott

The knots in Alexander’s tie were becoming tighter with every twist and loop he made. His fingers moved in rhythm with his jaw, teeth grinding to the furling and unfurling of the silk in his hands. Again and again he coiled the fabric, feeling as it constricted against his skin. He had to admit, the first knots were sloppy, smeared in the sweat of the unstable fingers that made them. But, the further down they went, each became more and more precise. Practically a work of art.

When he reached the end of the tie, where the final knot was crafted, he made certain to tug extra tight. The strings of silk choked under the tension, and Alexander’s hands trembled.

But then, he released…

With a steady, long exhale, he unwound each knot. Gently. Smoothly. Unbinding what he had so mercilessly wound was certainly calming, he gave it that. But it wasn’t the calmness he clung to so desperately. It was the rush it filled him with: tightening and untightening, twisting and untwisting, gripping and ungripping. It put him in control. He directed each knot the helpless threads endured—held onto them until they could almost no longer bear. Ready to tear. And then, that release. When he undid all the tension he placed upon it—smoothed the silk out and sank deeper into his chair with a sigh.

It was good to be in control.

Control was something Alexander never had a full grasp on. Sure, he controlled his department at his office, controlled the daily procedures and protocol that each staff member followed, and, of course, as his ears had overheard from many a pre-teen tantrum, “controlled his younger brother’s life”… but it wasn’t enough. There was no real control over his own life. Or so he felt. The more he thought about it, the less he actually believed he ever had any power over his decisions. The choices he made were chosen for him—he simply acted upon what was expected of him.

He had no control over the walking out of his father, or the untimely death of his clinically depressed and suicidal mother. And he certainly didn’t have control over the birth of his younger brother, whom he was forced to raise from the, what to him was the tender age of 18. Having control would have put the kid in foster care—but that wasn’t what he knew was expected of him. And so, he lost control of going away to college, earning a degree. Lost control of a career field he dreamed of, a potential wife, a family… a future. He took what was handed to him—laid out and offered like left-overs for a pathetic, stray dog. One that’d been beaten and kicked too much—left only for the company of flies.

And he could hear them from beyond his office door. Laughing and buzzing around the water cooler, going on about their so-called perfect lives. Their daughter’s dance recital, their son’s championship soccer game, the family cruise they’d been planning all year. They had control. They could swoop in and steal the delicacies of life—piece by piece, taste by taste. But he? The world caught sight of him and turned its back. Hollered at him. Kicked. There were no dance recitals or championships or cruises on his plate. Only guardian-teacher conferences, calls to the school principal, and a stack of bills he could barely manage to pay each month.

The buzzing was becoming unbearable.

When it finally stopped and left his ears, minutes—hours later—that was when he realized the knots had returned. His tie was crumpled, twisted, and broken in his grasp. But, with shaky fingers, as he allowed his breaths to steady—in and out—he slowly undid them. One at a time. Piece by piece.

If he couldn’t control himself, he thought, at least he could control something. Give it air. Let it breathe. At least, he told himself, something won’t suffocate under the hands of an unforgiving God.


Dorian J. Sinnott

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3 thoughts on “Control by Dorian J. Sinnott”

  1. Effective flash fiction. You can almost feel the suffocation Alexander is experiencing. And true to life in that you don’t know whether to feel sorry for someone who’s feeling so sorry for himself.


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