Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Flash Fiction: Diligence

This short story stems from two things: 
1 - a little while ago I was paid to do some cleaning, and found myself in the position of having to vacuum a stranger's room while they were still in bed. Talk about humbling.
2 - the idea that it’s who you are when no one is looking that truly shows your character – especially your virtues (or lack thereof). 

A delightful definition of diligence:

A zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work; decisive work ethic, steadfastness in belief, fortitude, and the capability of not giving up. Budgeting one's time; monitoring one's own activities to guard against laziness. Upholding one's convictions at all times, especially when no one else is watching (integrity). (Vice: sloth.)



“That’ll do,” said Penny, giving the figurine a final flick with her duster.

Esther, thankful the figurine survived Penny’s carelessness, continued polishing a crystal vase.

“What they don’t know won’t hurt them, Esther.”

Esther continued working, taking her time with each valuable item. For her employers, cost no longer meant worth. They barely glanced at the treasures surrounding them. That didn’t mean she should rush her job. 

“They may not know, but I will.”

“Don’t give me that crap. Just leave it.”

Esther looked at Penny, “Is it really that wrong to work hard even when no one is looking?”


Who are you more like? Penny or Esther?
To peruse some other short fictions, simply click here!


  1. I'm a bit of both. I really, really love this version of Diligence. Well done!

  2. Mostly Esther though I may lapse into Penny. Strangely I'm much more dutiful when cleaning somebody else's place.

    I have to agree with Esther, doing a good job can be it's own reward while getting things only half done can gnaw at you.

  3. I'm definitely an Esther, which actually means mostly I never do any cleaning at all because when I do I want to do it properly and the size of the job alarms me!! Maybe I should be more of a Penny!

    I love the spectrum of things across your blog - you might like some of my sister's knitting over on her blog - free knitting patterns and so on. She's being published in a nationwide knitting magazine in the autumn!

  4. Nice contrasts between the characters, much like the charity story.

  5. Love it. It is so true at work people tend to fall into these two groups.

  6. "They may not know, but I will." I can't even count the number of times I've said that or some variant of it. I'm totally Esther!
    Oh, and Diligence is an awesome Virtue for a maid!


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