What Pegman Saw – Finding Out

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Baltimore, Maryland.

WPS - Finding Out 180714

Peabody Institute of John’s Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland  © S. Kalugin Google Maps

Finding out

“Honey, what are you doing?” asked Laura.

Jeff turned from the mirror, his face scarlet.

“Mom! I didn’t hear you come in!”

“Come here, hun.”

Jeff hesitated. Laura’s dress hung loose on him, and he tottered on her high heels.

Laura sat down and patted the place beside her. “Sit beside me, sweetie.”

She hugged him.

“Honey, I love you,” she said.

Then she asked “You’ve borrowed my clothes before, haven’t you?”

Jeff nodded.

“Is it like that TV programme we saw?”

Jeff nodded again.

“Mom,” he blurted, “I feel like I’m a girl, not a boy.”

“Do you have a special name, sweetheart?”

Jeff looked at his toes. “Myleene”

“My, that’s a pretty name.” She drew breath. “You want I should take you to Johns Hopkins, like the girl on the TV?”

“What about dad?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll talk him round.”

She hugged her son again, her heart breaking.

Author’s Notes

Johns Hopkins Hospital pioneered gender reassignment surgery in the USA. However, in 1979 they stopped carrying out such surgery, taking the view that gender dysphoria was a mental illness and should be treated as such. They maintained this policy for 38 years, only changing it in 2017. They now offer a range of medical treatments for gender dysphoria, including surgery.

 

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Friday Fictioneers – The Wrong Shape

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!

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PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

The Wrong Shape

I watch the slow, steady drip from the bag into the cannula in my arm.

I know what’s in it; saline and glucose in water. Calories. My counsellor told me before the nurse inserted the needle.

I struggle with fear; fear of being fat; fear of food.

(I could, so easily, turn off the dripping calories)

I used to lie about my exercise habit, my non-existent periods, my days without food.

(Turn off the drip)

I don’t want to see my family.

(Turn off the drip)

I watch the slow, steady drip. That’s my life.

I’m frightened. Hold my hand.

What Pegman Saw – Family Matters

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is the Faroe Islands. When Hitler overran Denmark, Britain occupied the Faroe Islands to deny him a strategic base in the North Atlantic.

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Nordragota, Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark | Google Maps

Family Matters

November was a rotten month for starting my new job as civilian secretary of the British Consul to the Faroe Islands. There were six hours of gloomy daylight, shortening every day. Even without air-raids the drabness made the war feel real.

But the family I lived with were lovely. Johanna, the matriarch, let me help about the house; and twice a week she let me join in the chain dance, holding her youngest son Olavur’s hand and chanting words I didn’t understand.

“You are my daughter,” said Johanna. “Four boys I bore, but no girls. Now I have you, Catherine.”

Winter ebbed, and the men went to sea. Then, on March 28th 1942, the trawler SELRES_c719b40c-1c76-420d-9708-56d850683a78SELRES_63ac3c94-ea10-460b-b575-f9f3ef4fb83bSELRES_8ee89319-eac9-4ce0-9f0a-60a2d7dc82c8Nyggjaberg SELRES_8ee89319-eac9-4ce0-9f0a-60a2d7dc82c8SELRES_63ac3c94-ea10-460b-b575-f9f3ef4fb83bSELRES_c719b40c-1c76-420d-9708-56d850683a78was sunk by the Germans and Johanna lost three of her sons.

She didn’t smile for two years – not until she first cuddled my newly born son, while Olavur, proud dad, looked on joyfully.

Friday Fictioneers – PTSD

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 - Candid Camera 180704

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

PTSD

“Incoming!”

I wake up sweating and sobbing. Even after I force myself to open my eyes, to stop biting the pillow, to stop clawing the sheets, I can still smell the blood. Shaking uncontrollably, I stumble into the kitchen. The crimson ketchup on last night’s plate explodes into my field of view. I dive for cover.

“Pull y’self together, Private.”

“Suh!”

I drag myself to my feet and salute. Okay, so he’s dead, but you still gotta salute an officer.

Jimmy’s foot’s lying on the floor.

He’s lucky.

They’ve given him a prosthetic.

Wish they’d give me a new mind.

Two Friends Meet

This short story is a little over 300 words long, and is more or less true…

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Two friends meet

We were waiting for the concert to begin. It was an open-air recital of music performed by an ensemble of violinist, cellist, flautist and pianist. A faint savour of cooking permeated the air from the nearby tavernas. Swifts swooped and shrilled their thin song, accompanied by the obsessive rattle of cicadas.

Although it was past the advertised starting time, half the seats were still empty and there was no sign of the performers. We laughed, quietly; late starts seemed to be a feature of Greek performances. “People watching” is a very Greek thing to do, so, like the other eighty or so people making up the audience, we looked around.

There was a woman in a green dress sitting in the row in front of us. Her skin resembled a peach that had dried just a little, losing moisture until fine wrinkles had appeared. The wrinkles spoke of smiles, laughter, and love, and the set of her eyes and mouth confirmed them.

Her hair, unambiguously grey without hint of white, was short, straight, and beautifully cut. She sat upright, making the most of her height, projecting confidence. She was on her own but seemed completely untroubled by this. Nevertheless, had my Greek been adequate to sustain a conversation I would have greeted her; there was a warmth about her that invited friendship.

As the remainder of the audience straggled in, the woman looked around. She glanced to her right and her eyes widened. Her face glowed with delight. She reached out with both arms to embrace a woman who was threading her way between the seats. The two women hugged, exchanged greetings and sat down side by side.

They didn’t chatter; occasionally one would make a comment to the other, who would nod, or say something brief in reply. They just sat, relaxed, companionable, enjoying the occasion together, plainly friends of many years standing.

Shortly afterwards the musicians entered, and chased away the sounds of swifts and cicadas with the music of Smetana.

 

Quote #2, “Together We Can Help”

Ivor has written a moving poem calling on writers to use their talents to encourage people to take care of children at risk. This seems a very important cause, and I invite everyone who reads this reblog of Ivor’s poem to reblog it in their turn.

Ivor.Plumber/Poet

“Fellow Writers, We Have The Power, We Have A Voice, We Have A Pen, Collectively, We’re Able To Help, Help The Children Of The World, Stop Them Crying For Help.”

Together We Can Help

Let us all help

It’s Time

Time to have a say

Voice your feelings

Tell your stories

Use your pen

Speak from your soul

Talk about their little feet

Feel their mammas heartbeat

Give your all

Walk tall

We need to help

Children is my prompt

Lets do the stomp

It’s your call

One and all

Don’t let the children crawl

Save them before they fall

Ivor Steven (c)  2018

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