Friday Fictioneers – Growing marigolds

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 - Growing Marigolds 190313

PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

Growing marigolds

Ferenc’s fingers hammered the final chords of the Polonaise, and the audience roared its approval.

“A new Liszt!” exclaimed one man to his wife.

Ferenc bowed and swept off stage.

Out of the shadows, the heavy hands of the secret police grasped him, forcing him from the building.

“You are an associate of terrorists.” The interrogator was implacable. “Give us their names, and we will let you live.”

One by one, he broke Ferenc’s fingers.

Now those twisted fingers painfully press marigold seedlings into the compost filling his piano case.

The seedlings will bloom prettily – but you can grow marigolds anywhere.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 

97 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Growing marigolds

  1. Many, many years ago I watched the series “Holocaust” and a scene, when they torture the painter and they show his broken fingers, was imprinted in my mind for forever. Your story reminded me that things like that have happened and still do. Sadly, it will never change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lady Coloresque
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Maybe it will never change – but I believe we are all called to stand against it. And there is some hope; torture and casual brutality are no longer as blatant as in Roman, or mediaeval societies. Perhaps we will gradually learn to be more humane.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Neil
      Thank you for reading and for your very kind comments. You dug very deep to find the affirmation in the story, which arises only when the reader says “Such cruelty is evil, and I will oppose it wherever I find it.”
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Iain
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re pretty close with the period and location – I actually imagined it in Hungary just after the Soviets crushed the revolution in 1956. Students and intellectuals had been active in fighting the Russians, and in executing any secret police they could identify. It is entirely possible that Ferenc was sympathetic to the revolution and knew conspirators. However, what was done to him was barbaric and inexcusable.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear MK,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you found the thought of Ferenc’s fingers being broken hard to stomach, since it reminded you that evil like this happens all the time. I believe we all need to call it out whenever we see it.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Anna
      Thank you for reading and commenting so kindly. Some evils are beyond comprehension, and all we can do is oppose them as best we can. I’m glad you felt the way the beauty of the flowers lives on.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sandra
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, it was painful to write, too. And yet Ferenc survived and continued to bring beauty into the world despite pain – and, of course, the guilt he will have felt at the betrayal of his comrades…My own ‘take home’ from the story is Anurag’s comment that we must oppose torture as an instrument of the state to our last breath.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • not only torture but violence itself should be rejected (as far as possible) … and the beginning certainly will not come from the state, but from every single human being.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda
      Thank you for reading and for such a kind comment. Yes, I’m afraid events like this have happened. All we can do is oppose torture in all its forms, and bring up our kids to be compassionate, humane people.
      You are right – they didn’t break Ferenc’s spirit, and that is good.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t know if you selected the flower for a reason, but I had to look at the language of flowers in case you had hidden something there. 😊

    A few meanings of the marigold seem to fit: grief, despair, cruel treatment toward a loved one, especially if brought on by jealousy.
    It is also apparently associated with the Day of the Dead in Mexico, as a remembrance of the departed.

    Brutal past, hopeful future. The waste of such talent makes me lean toward this meaning: cruelty toward a loved one, inspired by jealousy(of his talent, though the ostensible reason was terrorism).

    Also –authenticity question–was terrorism a thing in the 50’s yet? I dont know myself nor do I know how to find out!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Andi
      Thank you for reading and for your kind and detailed comments.
      I’m flattered that you should examine my words so carefully for the hidden meanings. I didn’t use any of the European language of flowers in my choice. What was in my mind as I wrote was the use of marigolds in garlands in India, where they are offerings to the gods. They also have a very distinctive perfume, and so can be quite evocative.
      As regards terrorism, I imagined this story in Hungary just after the Soviets crushed the revolution in 1956. Students and intellectuals had been active in fighting the Russians, and in executing any secret police they could identify. It is entirely possible that Ferenc was sympathetic to the revolution and knew conspirators. However, what was done to him was barbaric and inexcusable.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My heart broke more with each finger. Made me think of the movie “Cold War” when he returns to Poland to rejoin his love, only to be thrown in jail, fingers broken, never to play the piano again…
    Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Patrick
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you found the story dramatic. I fear that torture is still used by most states; it will take many generations of effort before we can eliminate the urge to hurt others.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Jo
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, it’s tragic when an outstanding talent is ruined; and it’s obscene that almost every state in the world is prepared to countenance torture.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That last line is wonderful, Penny. Ferenc has put his tortured hands to good use, making flowers bloom, brightening a dark and frightening world. But also, that wonderful talent has gone – the flowers are wonderful but could grow anywhere whereas his talent was clearly unique. Well done for creating a heartbreaking, layered story in so few words

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Stuart
      Thank you for reading and commenting with insight. You are absolutely right when you say we don’t need to know whether or not Ferenc had information. The torture was evil regardless.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  5. Reading this made my heart heavy. I’m old enough to have heard the stories during the cold war… and it hasn’t stopped, it’ everywhere. What a primitive species we are… Powerful writing, Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Esha
      Thank you for reading, and for your heartfelt comments. I’m sorry the story disturbed you. I always tag stories like this one as “Dark” (see top left of the page) so that people can avoid them if they prefer.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bjorn
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, breaking his fingers was an attempt to damage or destroy the spirit of the man. Some people are prepared to do that, and most states will sanction torture if the rulers feel threatened.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Fatima
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You’re quite right that the torture was intended to be psychological as well as physical. It was also intended as a warning to others, that ‘they’ – the rulers – can and will take the thing, or person, you love most.
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s