FF – Retards

I haven’t really got time to join in F this week, but I’ve been away a couple of weeks and I miss it, so here’s my (slightly rushed) response to the prompt. I would love your feedback and I will make sure I get to a few other stories over the course of the week.

Thanks to Roger Bultot for the picture. If you’re wondering how it links to the photo, the fear that many of the stories would prominently feature the door thing in the centre as a tardis or portal sent me spinning off into a daydream about reading the same old thing over and over again, which in turn led me onto a political path about history repeating itself as the UK government prepares to plunge into yet another military intervention of questionable merit, which all led me to Chrissie, and her mother, and eventually Simon. I’m not looking for political discourse; I’m just giving you the short version of what Roger’s intriguing photo has to do with this story.

I am aware that the title and the use of this word in the story could upset some people. I hope you will read to the end for Chrissie’s (and therefore the author’s) justification for its use.



“Oh pur-lease,” sighed Chrissie.
“That,” My daughter indicated something on her phone and I pondered the return of single word + pointing. Thirteen years ago, I was desperate for her to speak in sentences and she did. Until recently. “Retards.”
“Chrissie!” I warned, relieved that her brother was upstairs.
“Proper ones, Mum. No condition, no excuse, just idiots.”
“I’d still rather you didn’t use that word.”
She saw my glance at the ceiling. “Simon’s not a retard, Mum. His brain didn’t develop like theirs and he’s still smarter. They should be pleased to be compared to my big brother.”



Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

33 responses to “FF – Retards

  1. Dale

    How you came to that story… That said, we have that in our family so I understand Chrissie.
    By the way you have a minor tyoo. Simon’s not a retard(ed).

  2. C – To give concrete feedback is hard, I think I needed to connect with the introductory text to understand that Chrissie was really reading the news and the events. I think giving a hint about the context would be needed to understand who “they” are… I liked the story, that was really more about the relationship about the siblings than the politicians I think. I hope I do make sense, and thank you for your feedback

  3. Dear Jen,

    This is very close to a mother/daughter conversation in a short story I wrote a few years back (my first short story, actually) called “Savant.”
    I enjoyed the conversation and really didn’t need the intro. What came across is the universal teen-speak and Chrissie’s love for her brother.
    Well done.



    • What a coincidence, Rochelle. And I know that you of all people don’t look for an explanation of the link between picture and story, but it often intrigues me in other people’s contributions (yours included), so I try to give it for those who enjoy a bit of background

  4. C- Without the intro I would just have guessed at social network mobbers or similar retards, idiots, and so on. So, for understanding how you connect the story to the prompt, the intro was helpful. For understanding the story itself, it wasn’t necessary. Chrissie has heart and head in the right place. She is good, one to be proud of. Great interaction and dialogue.

  5. This was a typical mother/daughter dialogue, but surely Chrissie would have learned by now to use another word even for totally brain-dead people?

  6. I enjoyed your story, Jennifer, because it rings true. Chrissy’s voice is clear.

    And as always, I enjoyed your journey as you explain how you get from the photo to the story. My path was a little simpler, and you nailed it with your comment. I almost fell off my chair when I read it, but since I was sitting in my car I didn’t. I hope you enjoy my story, ha ha. The girls are back, as am I.

  7. This shows how words can be damaging, and yet, they are only words. Interesting

  8. It took me some time to get to grips with what “the return to single word + pointing” was actually referring to, even with the intro. I know it’s tricky with the word count, but I think any hint to what she was pointing at would really help out the reader

    It’s an interesting and thoughtful observation once understood.

    • Sorry if that put you off. To me, it didn’t matter what she was referring to, the important thing was that the mother sees the relapse in comunication skills and it’s important to her because of Simon’s (lack of) development in that department.

  9. I agree with misskzebra above. That line was confusing to me. For me….I’d rather just read the story and not connect it with the photo or read your introduction that connects to the photo. In reality, a work should stand on its own….without photo….without prompt. And this one does that very well.
    I will admit, the title “froze” my brain. It is such an emotional and negative work in my perception, (My degree is in communications) one that does exactly what you point out….stops people from listening. But, as you suggested, I read through till the end and the love between this family is palpable. This hits close for me as we had a friend who just lost her 30 year old Down Syndrome son — and he was very very special indeed. The love from his sisters, their fierce pride in him, was so apparent in their eulogies. And as one said, they thought they had to protect him in school, from people who teased him. And in reality, he protected them and taught them so much about life.
    Excellent story….no matter the prompt or explanation!

    • Thanks! I think that’s why I usually put this sort of explanation after the story because I don’t want to colour people’s reading. It certainly isn’t meant to be necessary reading in order to understand the story, otherwise the story has failed in my view.
      Sorry for your friend’s heartbreak. It sounds like the boy had a wonderful family, and was a wonderful gift to them too.

  10. Jennifer,
    I really liked this and I thought it was quite clear, even without the introduction. I think it probably would have been better without it, just letting the title speak for itself, but if I had titled my story that, I would have put an explanation at the front too. 🙂 I like the verbal slight of hand you used with the meaning of “retard”. It’s a great ending when you see what she really means.

    • Thanks David. I think I’ll stick with my extroductions coming after the story in future; maybe I was too much of a coward because of the word choice. Thanks for sticking with it!

  11. A very interesting take on the millennial fashion of not only speech but of a new brand of communication, one based on accusation and compartmentalization. Still, I very much appreciate the optimism that said era doesn’t have to corrupt its residents completely and there are still good people growing up in our media-infused world.

  12. Your title sure does provoke a response – and that’s good. The story works really well. Great family dynamics, and an apt condemnation of the real “retards” out in the world of politics and power.

  13. The word still exists in private conversations like many others. As a story teller you are fully justified in using that word and others of it’s ilk no matter what the negative connotations are. I liked the story.

    • Thank you, subroto. I agree, and i think we must be careful not to limit ourselves in the words, characters or storylines we write, just because we might offend people. Writing it doesn’t mean we approve of it.

  14. The story is an interesting take on the prompt. The mother and daughter exchange was loud and clear. The title word could have made one cringe but you pulled it off well with the sister complimenting her brother in the ending.
    Isadora 😎

  15. I agree with subroto above. Part of being a writer is to bring into the light what people think about only in their minds, or talk about only on their couch with their close family. I am trying to get up the courage to join this group; seeing the great feedback/response to this story encourages me.

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