Dris Horton would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Ratio of Loss

By Dris Horton All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Drama

Flash Fiction


It was a small book, only 127 pages, and the print was kind of large. Not too well written, but it took Gretchen only two hours to read the whole thing, front to back. Now her hands wouldn’t stop shaking, trembling, betrayed by the vivid depictions assaulting her faculties.

She put the book in the glove box and got out of the car. As she walked across the parking lot of the county jail, Gretchen suddenly realized she couldn’t recall the title of the little book. But she did remember that it was blue. Gretchen began to cry quietly to herself as she approached the entrance of Central Booking, where she’d been ordered to report by the judge the day before.

What she had read still screamed in her thoughts.

‘Piles of little babies?’ Gretchen wondered, screwing up her face as she silently queried herself. A testament to an unimaginable horror swirled passed her mind’s eye, suddenly making her problems seem quite small.


“Where you are going is paradise,” said Mr. Soto when he first handed her the novella earlier that morning.

Gretchen had known Mr. Soto all her life, the kind old Greek Jew who owned the little grocery store on the corner, down the street from where she grew up. Her mother and grandmother had shopped there, its isles so narrow they had to walk sideways or they’d knock something off the shelf.

As a little girl, Gretchen was taught to always be polite to Mr. Soto. And never steal, not even a grape. He had gone through something terrible as a young man, and moved to America after the war.

Now Gretchen waited tables full-time, working herself though part-time college, not taking life too seriously. She lived with a couple of roommates, Marta and Demi, a surrogate family sharing a cheap apartment, taking advantage of the sweet bird of youth. Early mid-twenties, free, attractive and Facebooked. Her parents still helped her when the bills got tight.

But last weekend the hometown team won the big game, underdogs coming from behind to upset the old rival, first time in half-a-decade. And the party was on, drinks flowing, a student body spilling over into a nearby strip mall, display windows shattered. Sauced to the nines and moving with the crowd, Gretchen saw a trendy fashion she’d always wanted but couldn’t afford. In a fit of impulse, she snatched the latest craze from the vandalized showcase, then slipped away to a local hangout to change into the pilfered garment. Gretchen was the life of the party that night, dancing the night away in a purloined dress worth over a week’s pay. Capricious gleeful mirth, owing to its course.

The next day it was big news, the riots caught on video surveillance. Gretchen was identified along with many others, urged to come forward and accept an offering of leniency. A night in jail, restitution and a month of weekends doing community service. A swift, humiliating reprieve in lieu of slower, harsher justice.

On her way to turn herself in, Gretchen stopped at the little store to buy a cigarettes, hoping to calm her frayed nerves. Mr. Soto was there working the counter. At first Gretchen averted her eyes in shame, knowing she had been on television. But Mr. Soto smiled and called her brave for owning up to what she had done. Then he gave Gretchen his little book, something he’d reluctantly written decades ago at the insistence of others.

“A quick read,” said Mr. Soto, “to help put things in perspective.”


He was younger than her when the Nazis came to the tiny Greek island where he lived with his wife and two small children. They’d been part a fishing family that worked the Aegean Sea, a close family of nearly fifty. The little island’s inhabitants, about 500 Jews, were all shipped to the mainland in the hull of a large tanker, then loaded onto boxcars, spending a week in their own filth till Janowska, a death factory deep in the Ukraine. It was there that he last saw his wife and children, and all his family and friends. He survived by throwing the corpses of his people, his family and friends, into the furnaces, being the only one left from his tiny island by the war’s end.


As she was fingerprinted, Gretchen recalled the book’s title, suddenly grasping its meaning: Ratio of Loss. And as the deputy handed her the clean orange jumper she’d be wearing for the night, Gretchen thought of the photograph on the book’s cover: a monument with the names of the dead where the island village had once been. On the back was another photo: Mr. Soto standing outside the store with his new family, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of them smiling.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Dris Horton
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

sujitha nair: What's so distinct about this story was that it could easily be real.Praveena can be your classmate, neighbor or that girl you saw at the coffee shop today. The important decisions she makes and the dilemmas she faces, remind us of our own twisted lives.

sherylprins: A thoroughly enjoyable read, "Everything Changes in Spring" by first time novelist Robyn Prins. An intriguing read that illustrates the effects misconceptions can have on relationships.Great characterisations with a plot filled with twist and turns that keeps you engaged throughout the whole book...

OpheliaJones: This story took a different kind of spin on the "normal girl lives with definitely not normal guy" plot. The plot points of Frey's father, Liam's family, and Frey's view of Liam's world were good to read. She did not fall in love with him in the first couple weeks. Their lives were not smooth in ...

brettylee: The narrative is slick yet punchy. Life, Family and Friends I believe is the core message so it’s easy to relate to. It’s surprisingly action packed. The author does a good job at keeping you guessing. Just when you think all is right, whack, the unexpected happens. The dialogue is energetic and ...

Laraine Smith: My only suggestion on the grammar is to use www.grammarcheck.net. I have it bookmarked on Google Chrome. I see myself in the determination in this beautiful story! I have Cerebral Palsy, and I have dreams that I have been working hard for, too! The humor made me laugh!

Riskaninda Maharani: This story told about love between Christopher Schlösser (a German) and Anggia Selestina (an Indonesian) that happened in Düsseldorf, Germany in an autumn. The German autumn which was so different with the autumn in the other four season countries, especially in Anggia's eyes when her heart-movin...

christylynnr5: This was beyond amazing! I loved this book. The characters seemed so real. It was amazing how the author let Zak and Kaylees personalities slowly change. This story was very sad and eye opening. It could teach some people a very worthy lesson. It was a great combination of romance, mystery, and a...

ianwatson: The comedy is original and genuinely funny, I have laughed out loud many times reading this book. But the story and the plot are also really engaging. The opening two or three chapters seem quite character-dense but they all soon come to life and there is no padding, filling or wasted time readin...

PokemænStivo: I have just finished reading this novel and I love it!First, the plot was very well designed. It tells the story of a person nearly kill herself. But then someone appears in her life. Someone who was already in this situation and came out of it. Someone who could hear, understand and help the oth...

More Recommendations

Dessie Williams: loved the book. the plot the characters all just great.I think it's a must read. once you start this book it's hard to put down. hope it gets published....I think this book is a must read.great job!!!!

Lydia Sherrer: I first read The Speaker almost a decade ago when I first discovered author Sandra Leigh. I loved it then, and I still love it now. It is a simple, easy read, yet deep in meaning and rich in storyline. I do not know what kind of research or prior knowledge Leigh has of First Nation tribes, but sh...

Swostika Ghimire: Seriously, now I am in love with this story.This story is making me crazy. Beginning was awesome and ending is mind blowing.I loved all the characters of this story. Thankgod I found this story here. I was about to be crazy eating for updates in wattpad.And mostly I appreciate author of this stor...

csimesser1: If you love a biker romance with a lot of drama then this book is for you. Some of the plot was very predictable but there was plenty of twists to keep you reading. I could not stop reading it

{{ contest.story_page_sticky_bar_text }} Be the first to recommend this story.

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.