Tag Archives: Domestic violence

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.

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Friday Fiction – The Sculpture

This week’s FF prompt shows that many writers are multi-talented. Claire Fuller’s photo is of her own sculpture. As ever, other responses can be found through Rochelle’s site.

For me, this one was a bit of a challenge. I had this idea, but I couldn’t think of a way to squash it down to anything like 100 words. It felt like a whole novel. The muse also kept shouting “Cicero”, which is not helpful. Cicero’s story is completely unconnected to the one I wanted to tell, and I couldn’t spare any words on incorporating it, or even on adding a cat called Cicero (Don’t you think it’s a brilliant name for a cat?). So the editing process was a lot less smooth this week, as those who read the previous drafts will see.

I had also challenged myself this week to try to go back to my roots and make this more of a story and less a description, which I feel like the last few have been veering towards. AND I wanted to see what I could do with Rochelle’s motto that the picture is “inspiration not illustration”. Lots of ambitions; I’d love to hear if you think I met any of them!

copyright-claire-fuller

The Sculpture

Lois dropped the chisel into the sink and ran the taps. Warm water flowed over her skin, revealing the fingerprint bruises and historic scars which mottled her arms.

Her latest work, the two-faced man, lay on the work-bench. Cold and lifeless. It was a grotesque vision – too many mouths, slashed into pale white; too many unseeing eyes staring at her.

As a sculptor, she knew that the work of a chisel could never be changed or undone, but this time she felt no remorse. There had been no mistake. And blood, she found, washed off more easily than plaster dust.

Version 1

Lois peeled dusty sleeves from her arms, revealing fingerprint bruises and peeling scabs. She hardly looked at them, concentrating instead on scrubbing at her hands.

“Cicero left his wife for a girl,” she said to noone. “Two-faced bastard.”

Warm water rushed into the sink, washing away the fine white powder which had coated her fingers.

“It seems he might have loved her in the beginning, but

[I stopped here. The story was getting long and I wasn’t getting anywhere!]

Version 2

Lois dropped the chisel into the sink and ran the taps. Warm water flowed over her skin, revealing again the fingerprint bruises and historic scars which mottled her arms. A sculptor, she knew that the work of a chisel could never be changed or undone, but this time she felt no remorse, no mistake. And blood, it turned out, washes off more easily than plaster dust.

 [This was the nub of what I wanted to say, so having gone too long, I thought I’d get it down and then see how much space there was for explanations. And for Cicero! 66 words down, only 37 to go]

Version 3

Lois dropped the chisel into the sink and ran the taps. Warm water flowed over her skin, revealing again the fingerprint bruises and historic scars which mottled her arms.

Her latest work, the two-faced man, lay on the work-bench. It was a grotesque vision – too many wide laughing mouths, slashed into pale white. Cold and lifeless.

A sculptor, she knew that the work of a chisel could never be changed or undone, but this time she felt no remorse, no mistake. And blood, it turned out, washes off more easily than plaster dust.

[At 93 words, this was close to what I wanted, but a few places weren’t quite right. The changes from this to the final version reflect a few added words – in particular the addition of the eyes and making “no mistake” into a sentence of its own – but also polishing of the image. The idea that the mouths were “laughing” seemed incongruous unless the man is still mocking her, and there wasn’t space to show that to my satisfaction so I ditched it. Washes became washed – there is a grammatical argument for either, but I preferred the latter in the end because it felt less like the author creeping in.

The ‘eyes’ sentence took a lot of thinking about. I wanted it to work for either interpretation, but while I could imagine slashes looking like extra mouths, I wasn’t convinced that the attack would have created extra eyes. And then I realised a way that two eyes could still be too many. She’s frightened of him – even in death.]

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