Killing me softly


“Tom! I thought I told you to do your homework? Give me those. Now!”

Tom moaned, handing Theresa his headphones together with his smartphone. Ignoring him, she returned to the kitchen. She was rushing to prepare dinner with minced meat that wasn’t fully defrosted yet.

She must have touched the screen by mistake because it started to play a song. The familiar lilts and mournful notes made her breath catch in her throat. Yet it was all wrong. The artist didn’t know how to capture the emotion in the song.

She would know. She wrote it. Ten years ago.

99 words


As soon as I saw the image I heard the song in my head. I sang Killing me softly at my school concert too – the Roberta Flack version. Embarassingly, I’d been singing it since before the Fugees version thanks to my mom’s karoake videos, which I hoarded. So of course, I had to write this story.

UPDATE 23 May 2020: When I wrote the story I had no idea of the true origins of the song. A youtube recommendation today revealed to me that Lori Lieberman wrote a poem about the way she felt at a Don McLean concert. The poem became lyrics to the song Killing Me Softly made popular by Roberta Flack. Lieberman was cheated out of the royalties. In my story, Theresa is taken aback hearing a song she wrote years ago being sung by someone else. In my imagination, she too was cheated out of the rights of the song that was close to her heart. Knowing Lieberman’s true story (and it being goosebumping-ly close to my flash fiction) I really wanted to credit her as the original artist and lyricist of the enduring song.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the frog to submit your flash fiction and read others’ stories too.

34 thoughts on “Killing me softly

    1. I found out after I wrote the story, that Roberta Flack isn’t the original artist. Lori Lieberman was and she never really got the credit or the royalties either it seems.


      1. I was exposed to a huge range of eclectic music, but I’m also old,so… 😉 I love a lot of 90s music – for a while the record companies decided to take a risk with bands that didn’t fit the mold. They were in search of the next Nirvana. A lot of great music was put out on major labels of the type that was forced to the Indie labels or no recording contracts in the 2000s and 2010s.


    1. Well it seems Lori Lieberman was the original artist and songwriter! I updated my post to credit her for it. Seems she was cheated out of the royalties by the co-writers. Thanks, Rochelle.


  1. That’s cool, Fatima! I like the inspiration of it. Yes, I grew up with the Roberta Flack version, although, the Fugees were pretty good with it, too. Nice story.
    Five out of five Killing Me Softlies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s cool how a song can be given new life and resurrected for a new generation, but it’s also horrible how an artist can be cheated and discarded. Good story.

    I had no idea Roberta Flack wasn’t the original artist. The Fugees’/Lauryn Hill version was the first I’d ever heard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And yet I hear artists are cheated so many times. Roberta Flack may not have been the original artist but she gave it power in a way that popularised the song. Lieberman might have been a phenomenal lyricist, but maybe not a great performer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are few singer/artists like Roberta Flack. She isn’t given credit for arranging her version of the song; Paris Rutherford gets that credit (see the first link below). And that is a shame because her vocals are discounted as being part of the arrangement, and this is just wrong. Give another singer the the same arrangement and get an entirely different performance. Helen Reddy was given the opportunity to record the song before Roberta was; she didn’t bother looking it over because the title did not appeal to her (see the first link below).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The person who got writing credit, Norman Gimbel, claimed Lori did not contributed to all the lines to the song. There only 25 unique lines in the song. The repeated chorus consists of 25 lines. He used the chorus he repeated as justification for minimizing Lori’s poem and not giving her credit. Lori should be remembered as a writer on Killing Me Softly regardless of what the offical “copyright” says.

        Liked by 1 person

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