Friday Fictioneers – Light for the darkest night

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (the blue frog) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Embankment light 171213

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Light for the darkest night

The Thames chuckled treacherously as the ebbing tide tugged at the bridge. The lights of the Embankment were haloed by midnight drizzle.

Mary leaned over the parapet, sodden and chilled.

That cow from the Social Services. ‘We’re concerned about your child’s home environment, about his safety. Better we take Jonny into care.’

Bitch!

Mary sobbed, and threw her leg over the parapet. They’d be sorry when they pulled her body out of the river!

“Excuse me,” said a stranger’s voice.

“God, you startled me. I almost fell!”

“You don’t really want to jump then? I’m glad. Here, take my hand.”

*

I apologise to any social workers who happen to read this. I know that you are dedicated professionals, working under extreme pressure and getting it right the large majority of the time. 

87 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Light for the darkest night

    • Dear Neil
      Thank you for reading and for your lovely comment. The prompt photo is so similar to the street lights on the Embankment that I couldn’t resist writing about the Thames!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Varad
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I have no doubt at all that she would have jumped within seconds if the stranger hadn’t spoken to her. As it was, someone made contact, someone cared – and that was enough. As Lore says in her story, you don’t do it because nobody’s watching, you do it because nobody cares.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Moon
      Thank you for reading and for your lovely comment.
      This story is actually a distillation of the opening of the first novel I wrote, ‘The Happiness Drug’, and we learn about Mary’s background and why social services want to take the child into care. For here, I’ll just say that there was an abusive husband who told lies in court about his wife.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Alice
      Thank you for reading. Thank you, too, for your kind comment. Yes, no blame attached to social services – I’m glad it was clear that the story was about Mary’s reaction rather than social services’ action.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Christine
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree with you about Social Services. And about God blessing the helping hand.
      There is, in fact a back story for this piece of flash fiction. Social Services had ample reason for taking the boy into care, but at the same time the mother was an excellent mum. Lies that smeared Mary’s character, told under oath in a court of law, had to be taken seriously by Social Services.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “The Thames chuckled treacherously”…what a brilliant start to the story! You created a strong atmosphere through your descriptions. I smiled at the stranger’s kind words, which ended the tale with a warm glow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Michael
      Thank you for reading and commenting. As you say, we all need a helping hands when things seem at their bleakest. However, I have the highest respect for social workers on the ground. They do an incredibly difficult job for which I would have neither the courage nor the stomach. Alas, the same cannot be said of their political masters…
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sandra
      Thank you for reading and for your kind comments.
      I appreciate your remark about apologising. All I intended was to make it clear that I think social workers generally get things right, and that I admire them for what they do.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bryan
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Dozens kill themselves there every year, I’m afraid. Since 2016 there has been a pilot scheme of volunteers patrolling Westminster bridge to try and save potential suicides.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to be argumentative, YS, but I have to disagree at least in part.
      It is essential to have legislation that penalises bad behaviour towards children, that ensures children without family (such as orphans) receive good care, and that ensures sufficient social justice that families are not dirt poor. Of course, that is far from sufficient on its own, and ultimately all children must have love, the more the better. And every human system will be fallible and let some people down.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Laurie
      Thank for reading, and for your very kind comments. There’s such a lot of history in the Thames that I find it difficult not to think of it as a sentient being, with greed and treachery at its heart.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • the giggling was treacherous, but greed and betrayal of a sentient being drawn as a river? Water is life, the flowing water shows how things are constantly changing. Yes of course, I also find it shocking how many people it devoured. Is it angry and meen this character … because of Christmas I think of this “Grinch” (although I do not know the movie, I’ve heard a lot of it lately) … the Christmas stories generally are about “evil” people who were just lonely and find happiness throughout history.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m really thinking of the way ideas associate themselves with significant places. The Thames in London has seen bloodshed, betrayal and greed for two thousand years, and UK residents have all read so much about it that those actions are all conjured up by the thought of the Thames.
        On the one hand, I know that it’s flowing water of sufficiently good quality to support salmon and many other fish; on the other hand I see – in my imagination – a queen going to be executed; a prostitute’s body dumped unceremoniously; a desperate soul hurling himself from a bridge; a vessel coming to the port with illegal drugs concealed on board.

        Liked by 1 person

      • these are all very dark events that you associate with the river. Too bad about the beautiful river, maybe you just have to leave the city to sing the song of praise to him and pair him with lovers, birdsong and romantic sunsets.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bjorn
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you were able to save your friend. It must have been a scary situation for you. I’m delighted that you found the description of the Thames realistic.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Suzanne
      Thank you for reading, and for your warm and thoughtful comment. I can’t imagine making such a decision without heartache; and the mother’s heartache must be worse. Family breakdown is tragic.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

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