What Pegman Saw – Stone walls and iron bars

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. 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 location is Portmeirion, North Wales, a place I know well. The prompt doesn’t mention this, but the village is on an estuary, and there are places from which you can see the sea.

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© Penny Gadd

Stone walls and iron bars

“Not that outfit, Michelle. You look like a tart.”

“But you liked it yesterday, Mark.” Her voice trailed away as he glared.

“Yesterday we were in Porthmadog; today we’re going to Portmeirion. It’s elegant; a model Italianate village.”

Michelle changed into her blue dress. Mark assessed her and gave a curt nod of approval.

“You drive, I’ll navigate,” he said, tossing her the car-keys. “You’d only lose us.”

The keys tinkled to the floor. “I should have handed them to you,” sighed Mark. “I know you can’t catch.”

Michelle’s cheeks burned. “I’m sorry I’m so useless,” she said.

When they arrived, Michelle concentrated hard and reverse parked neatly.

“Not bad,” commented Mark, giving her a tight smile of approval.

As they strolled past tumbling flowers, a decorative pond, a campanile, he luxuriated in his control of her; while she gazed beyond the prettiness to the sea, and dreamed of freedom.

28 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – Stone walls and iron bars

  1. I just wanted her to push him in the pond! What a revolting individual you’ve painted in Mark – well done for drawing his character in so few words. Reminded me of a recent news story where a woman has just had her conviction for killing her husband quashed. He was continually controlling and abusive towards her for years. Mark needs to watch himself

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Mark is, indeed, a revolting individual who is in serious need of being ducked in the pond. As for the case of the woman whose murder conviction has been quashed, yes, that was the inspiration for this story.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’ve known people like Michelle. I once had dinner with one, with her husband and both her parents present. I couldn’t believe the level of criticism she suffered, in public, before guests. Horrible to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicely done, Penny. I feel her claustrophobia in how completely he controls even her sense of herself. The setting is the perfect backdrop for her situation, which I’m sure is what you had in mind. And I agree with Lynn–we need to push him in the pond!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Karen
      Thank you for reading and for your insightful comment. Claustrophobia is an excellent description of her feelings. She needs his approval, and she shrivels beneath his criticism. She feels trapped, but helpless.
      Perhaps you and I and Lynn ought to gang up and push Mark into the pond?!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Josh
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, of course it’s an unequal relationship. It’s reached a level which has become domestic abuse. Mark doesn’t beat Michelle, but he mercilessly exploits her vulnerability and lack of self-esteem.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Lish
      Thank you for reading and for your kind comment. Yes, both our husbands were nasty, but yours was scary too! It’s interesting that we both showed how the man gains his control by exploiting weaknesses in the woman’s psychology. In my story, Michelle desperately needs approval from those around her; in your story, the wife gets a thrill from the power ‘games’ that she and her husband ‘play’.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Na’ama
      Thank you for reading and commenting. It would be nice if it were as easy as dumping him in the estuary, but Michelle has profound psychological needs that bind her to a man like Mark. Her parents criticized her mercilessly throughout childhood and she learned that although her best was never good enough she nevertheless had to try her hardest to please. As she says in the story, “I’m sorry I’m so useless”.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Poor Michelle.
        Such a familiar, and dysfunctional, dynamic …
        I hope she finds some measure of spine and I hope it leads her to enough courage to get some help and to leave this man and not continue the legacy of her parents now that she has more choices than she had then. Not that it is easy, only that it is possible.
        As for Mark, he can do with some therapy himself. And some spine, as well. He cannot have much of his own if he needs to rob another of theirs to pretend he’s standing taller. His need to control and humiliate broadcasts his own weak core, tied as it is to needing to hurt another to feel good.
        N.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A very familiar, all too common form of manipulation, sanctioned until very recent times, by cultures which promoted (as some cultures, and some sectors of culture still do)the submissive-obedient female and the aggressive-domineering male stereotypes. The dyad of virgin/tart has also harmed women to no end.

    The preference for type A over type B (ie aggressive vs cooperative or nurturing) is another form of subtle sexism, for all genders. Why cant people just be valued for who they are rather than whether they can “win?”

    Beautiful phrasing throughout. You brought this gentle soul to anger on her behalf.

    As for bad husband characters, me too! Push them all in the pond! Although in real life I’ve had quite the opposite experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Andi
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully. Yes, you’re absolutely right that this sort of sexism – less blatant but recognisably the same – is pervasive throughout human societies. And it’s not just men who impose it – many women, including Michelle in the story, connive at it, usually as a result of their upbringing I suspect.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Russell
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I can see why you suggest that I might have intended ‘pettiness’ rather than ‘prettiness’ – but ‘prettiness’ is in fact what I meant. They were strolling past flowers, a campanile, an ornamental pond, a pretty scene. Neither of them was paying attention to it; he was just gloating over his control while she was looking beyond her immediate surroundings to freedom.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Jade
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re right that Michelle is trapped and possessed, but I think she also feels kind-of secure. I don’t mean true security, which comes from being in an open, honest and equal partnership, but the kind-of security you feel when life is as you expect. I would guess Michelle’s parents criticised her a great deal, and that nothing she did was quite good enough. Mark’s behaviour just mirrors that. Which doesn’t make him any less of a nasty piece of work, in fact it probably makes him nastier, as he is exploiting Michelle’s weaknesses rather than helping her build her strengths.
      Michelle may dream of freedom – but she doesn’t run.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

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