Friday Fictioneers – Reflecting on the past

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 - Reflecting on the past 180829

PHOTO PROMPT © Nathan Sowers grandson of our own Dawn M. Miller

Reflecting on the past

The eyes gaze back at me. There are crow’s feet at their corners, lashes missing from their perimeter. The forehead is creased, the nose is large, and the lips smile happily. It is the face of a woman who is elderly, if not old.

What changes you have seen!

A decade ago you peeped out tentatively, hardly believing the miracle. Twenty years ago you glared at me with frustrated, ice-blue rage. Thirty years, and that face was darkly bearded. Five decades, an adolescent boy, you stared longingly into a future that it seemed could never be.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

You’re healed!

86 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Reflecting on the past

  1. Dear Iain
    Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I really appreciate the way you have tried to imagine what the situation must feel like.
    The last line is intended as triumphant affirmation of the healing that has taken place. As a transwoman myself, I can assure you that in my case the transition from trying to live as a man to living as a woman is very much a healing.
    With very best wishes
    Penny

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had picked up the woman at old age, reflecting on the past as an adolescent boy, and I wondered if it was a typo. But it makes sense now. And I can understand the boy’s sense of a bleak future ahead, having been there myself in a different way. Thank you for sharing this with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Yvette
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. I’m pleased you felt the timeline was succinctly expressed – it was quite difficult to avoid the impression of a list.
      “ice-blue rage”. My eyes are blue. I rarely saw the rage in the mirror, but I sometimes saw its ferocity reflected in the faces of those to whom I was speaking. I am so glad to have lost that frustration and rage.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Neil
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you found the way I told the story interesting.
      I wanted to start with the eyes, which made it necessary to start in the present (at least, it did if I wanted to meet the 100 word limit!). That’s why I told the story backwards – but with what I hoped was a triumphant return to the present at the end. However, as I wrote, it occurred to me that to a large extent I see my life in reverse, with the most recent parts brighter and clearer than the most distant. That thought influenced the way I wrote.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I really appreciate that you took the time to read-through a second time to make sure you understood what I was saying. Even today the trans experience isn’t widely known, so I’m not surprised it took two readings to be sure. I’m glad it was clear the second time through!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Stuart
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      I agree with you that it’s better not to focus too much on the past. Life always holds another challenge that we need to attempt. However, the past can often be a source of wisdom, helping us to avoid making the same mistakes; and sometimes, as in my story, it can be a source of great encouragement.
      Good luck with your future challenges!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  3. Your words so aptly bring out the turmoil and the struggle faced by the boy and his adult self. FF also gave me a chance to know a little about you today. I am proud to be a part of this amazing pool of talented writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Francine
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s helpful to know that you liked the series of faces as the focus of the story. It prompted me to realise that I could use reflections in the novel I’m writing, which is a very useful insight; thank you!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Lisa
      Thank you for reading and for your very kind comments. I’m pleased you enjoyed my story so much. The happiness and healing has been remarkable. I experience joy just by living my ordinary life, because I’m now able to be the person I always was inside.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Subroto
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Thank you, too, for reading through the comments to help you understand the story. I’m glad you felt the story was one of empowerment.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  4. Hi Penny,
    Thank you very much for opening up with us all and sharing your story. Australia recently voted to legalize same sex marriage, which brought a lot of related issues into the public arena. I know a few trans people and worked in Sexual Heath for a year as a communicator and interviewed a trans teenager for our newsletter, which was a real honour.
    I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain in my mid-20s and had brain surgery for a shunt to be put in. That has given me a swag of identity issues, which are quite different but also make me more emphatic and compassionate towards people whose identities are more complex.
    BTW I have been personally touched by the acceptance of your story by of our fellow FFs, which hopefully reflects a great understanding in the wider community. Too many have suffered horrific cruelty.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rowena
      Thank you for reading and commenting so compassionately. I, too, have been moved by the acceptance of the FF community.
      There is still a great lack of knowledge in the wider community, and some prejudice. Some people, even in the UK, have been subjected to persecution and violence and I think all of us have had experiences where we’ve felt threatened, and been insulted. However, fourteen years after the big change, I seem to be accepted just as a normal woman – and every single day I give thanks for that, because to be normal is an enormous blessing.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Penny,
        It’s reassuring to hear that your experience has gone so well, and I found it interesting to absorb your desire just to be accepted as a “normal” woman. This desire to pass under the radar and simply be accepted might not be universal but is something so many of us crave for. Last week, my parents had their 50th Wedding Anniversary and most of our family and friends are wealthy and successful and we’re not on struggle street, but it can feel that way at times. I managed to pick up classy $4.00 for my son to wear at the thrift shop and a white trench to go with my daughter’s dress. I had my hair cut and got some contact lenses and I just wanted us all to pass straight under the radar. Tick all the boxes and that’s all. Once the night got underway, all my anxieties eased and people just accepted us as we are and had no big expectations. Indeed, people told us what a good family we had.
        It’s reassuring that there are so many decent people who see through all the hoopla and simple accept or reject us for our values and character or lack there of. This is what matters to me these days. No longer need to be popular or friends with everyone.
        Love & best wishes,
        Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks very much, Penny. It’s a continuous work in progress. Being a good person is very important to me, and thankfully there are so many people who are of the same mindset and want to treat people with kindness and compassion.
        xx Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It may be true that our history is etched on our faces, and using a mirror the past is clearly reflected. However, do we read the truth or pretend our lives have evolved in a different imagined way.
    Great little story that brings out our own mindful reflections of life, well lived or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear James
      Thank you for reading and for your thought provoking comments. You ask, if we have a way of observing the truth then “Do we read the truth or pretend our lives have evolved in a different imagined way?” We could do either – or both – don’t you think? Certainly I have no way of verifying the feelings I describe other than my memory, which is, of course, all too fallible.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve read in one of your comments from last week that you are a trans woman, so I wasn’t surprised. I know very little about the process and can only guess at the feelings. You seem to be around my age and back when we were young, acceptance for people ‘not following the norm’ was very rare. It is good that you and others can open up now and tell other people about fears, triumphs and worries. We all look into the mirror and wonder, after a certain age, who is that person looking back at us. How much more pivotal must that feeling be for a person who went through so many changes. I love how you draw a circle of healing around the memories of worry and anger with the happy smile in the beginning and the rejoicing in the end. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabi
      Thank you for that wonderful, thoughtful, supportive comment. You are right that when I was young acceptance for people not following the norm was very rare. Indeed, I was 16 before homosexual activity was (partially) decriminalised in the UK, so any gender deviance was completely taboo. Despite that, I can draw “a circle of healing” (what a lovely phrase that is!) both in my FF story, and in my life, because I can now live openly and with acceptance as the person I truly am.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bjorn
      Thank you for reading and for your empathetic comment. I’m glad you felt the joy in my story. You’re right that many people don’t have the chance to become the person they could be, and I am very conscious of my good fortune. At the same time, I would hope that my experience would encourage others to try to be the best they can be, and not to settle for anything less.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  7. I like the way you begin in the present, go back in time, and end in the present. Until I read the comments, I didn’t know this story was autobiographical. So glad you can now live openly as the person you truly are.

    Liked by 1 person

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