FF – Inside and Out

Copyright for this photo belongs to Sandra Crook.

Inside and Out

Maggie barely knew her own name, but she always recognised Stan: never took her eyes off him. We admired their love and his daily visits – most husbands came a couple of times a week. Then I noticed Maggie flinched when he held her hand … realised she watched with fear, not adoration … heard the tone of his whispers.

After he left, I took her for a walk in the garden. Out of the blue, she grabbed a rose and snapped its stem and flicked a bug from within.

“Even the most beautiful things can be rotten inside,” she muttered.

Random Ramblings From Me

Today’s photo actually made me think of the word pock-marked, and the etymology of that in ‘the pox’. When people talk about eliminating Covid-19, I often point out the humanity has eradicated precisely one disease ever and it took almost 200 years. I think our best case in the short-medium term has to be harm reduction not virus elimination.

Vaccines are incredible though. Smallpox killed 3 in 10 of those infected, its eradication has to be one of humanity’s greatest success stories and is a rare example of truly international cooperation. Wandering down the smallpox rabbit hole, I discovered Ali Maow Maalin, the last man to catch smallpox minor. Maalin had avoided the vaccination program when it came by, because he was scared of the needle. He isolated at home during his infection (sound familiar?!) and when he recovered, he went to work on the Polio vaccination program, persuading others to participate. As a result of the work of Maalin and thousands of others like him, polio is now endemic in only 2 countries. Two of the three strains have been eliminated completely. Another wonderful success story.

All my research turned up lots of stories, like Ali Maalin’s, which a historical fiction writer might have turned into their Friday Fiction. But none of them stuck. Instead, the muse decided to turn my attention to two other ‘pandemics’ that we have been living through for years.

There are around 10 million new cases of dementia worldwide every year. Although many dementia patients die of something else first, none recover and it is in itself deadly.

The UN has found more than 30,000 women die each year from domestic violence. That statistic was measured before Covid-19 and lockdowns, which appear to have increased the levels of domestic abuse. Many, many more, live with it for years and may or may not ever escape, let alone recover.

Neither dementia nor domestic violence has any hope of a vaccine.

39 Comments

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39 responses to “FF – Inside and Out

  1. A fascintating conjunction of pandemic and abuse

  2. A dark and deep tale. Well done.

  3. Not the husband he appeared to be it seems. A sorry story indeed.

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful story and afterword.

  5. Evil is often easy to hide

  6. Oh what a sad tale! And how astute of that young one!

  7. I enjoyed both the story and the footnote, Jen. I’m at a loss now to know which way we should go from here. I just know whichever way is chosen, there will be a never-ending core of nay-sayers and hindsighters.

    • That’s for sure, Sandra. I hope the English experiment proves successful and leads the way for the rest of us. I wouldn’t be thrilled to be the guinea pig, though.

  8. Dear Jen,

    I love your story. Things and people aren’t always as they seem, are they?
    Fascinating footnote. As for the vaccines, I’m losing patience with those who claim they’re evil. And I could go on and on. Thank you for sharing Ali Maow Maalin,

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • I’m sure you would have done him proud, Rochelle, had your story turned his way. I couldn’t manage it myself, so returned to my safe harbour of pure fiction.
      I could go on and on too. I don’t understand why everything has to turn political. Aren’t we supposed to be intelligent beasts?

  9. I’m not so sure that we have completely eradicated Small pox from the planet. It’s just extremely rare… like really, really rare, and mostly in third and fourth worlds. I mean, when I was in college in the 80’s and again in the 90’s we still covered small pox detection, and protection protocols… right up there with aids, and now covid…. it’s always something…

    • It’s always something. And yes, I know it spossible we are missing a few Smallpox cases. It’s still a mighty achievement though, give how many people it ravaged. I think we’d all take that level of eradication for any number of diseases!

  10. Very profound story and thoughtful afterwords. Domestic advise and psychological issues are definitely on the rise during the pandemic. The sad part is all the awareness and laws have only made domestic abuse go from physical to emotional which is even worse. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  11. This is a tragic reality. So many live in fear. You conveyed a lot in so little words. 🙂

  12. reality bites. we just have to learn to accept it to keep our own sanity

  13. Lots of provocative things to think about here.

  14. michael1148humphris

    We need to learn so much, and time is slipping past

  15. Great story, well penned and well noticed. And, I loved the afterword and the story of the facts and history of disease, fear, and fear-of-the-solution. We saw it then, we see it now. So sad that there are always those who fear the solution more than they fear a deadly disease.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting on both. Fear is one of our greatest problems as a species.

      • Fear in of itself is a gift for protection from imminent danger, so you can do what you need to do at the moment to survive. Phobia, anxiety, worry, rumination, and panic, are often confused for fear, but are a whole other set of problems …

  16. A scary and terribly tale. Her abuser has a greater way of maintaining his control through her dementia. Hopefully, the staff person who was watching can intervene. Subtly and well written, Jen!

  17. Great story, and all three big themes were packed in expertly. Measles could be eradicated as well if people weren’t so incredibly stupid.

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