Flash! Fiction: Getting Through The Night

International Women’s Day, 8th March, 2015.

Dedicated to al the women who are forced to endanger their lives every day.

Act I
Jed nodded from across the street, so I jumped into the sports car with the stranger.
“What’s your objective tonight?” He asked me eyes locked on the windscreen.
I looked at my watch and sighed, “To get through the night. You in a hurry?”
“Yes,” he replied.
I took a swig of the flask he drew out of his inside blazer pocket.
“Call me Frank,” he added.
“Pity,” I moaned. I’d have to come back for another customer, and Frank looked clean and rich in his smart suit.
Act II
Minutes later, ‘baby take off your dress, yes, yes, yes,’ rang loudly in our ears, and whiskey flowed warmly through our veins.
“Lay back and put your head on the table.”
My legs dangled uncomfortably.
“Wear this eye mask.” He noticed my hesitation and added, “Trust me.”
Damn! It was going to be one of those nights.
Act III
“Jed’ll kill you if you scar me!” I warned pulling at the handcuffs and wriggling my roped feet.
A hard fist squashed my face down against the laminated surface.
“He’ll have to find you first,” Frank whispered as he lowered the axe he had whetted hours earlier. “All of you,” he smirked. “Every little bit of you.”

This is a piece of short fiction I wrote last Friday, 6th March, as a response to the Flash! Friday Fiction Challenge.

However, as all fiction, it also contains truth. According to  Women’sLaw.org, Women in prostitution have a death rate that is 40 times higher than women who are not involved in prostitution.

Also, sixty-eight percent of prostituted women meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the same range as combat veterans and victims of torture.

According to Wikipedia, In 2004 the homicide rate for female sex workers in the United States was estimated to be 204 per 100,000.

These are facts and figures, but behind the numbers, there are plenty of women who are living very dangerous and horrific lives.

Last Friday, as part of International Women’s Day activities at the Adult Education Centre where I work, a social worker and member of a local association, whose aim it is to combat human trafficking by helping prostitutes off the streets, told us about the women she works with every day.

She started her talk by debunking two widely held myths:

1- Prostitution is not the oldest profession in the world. The oldest profession is the exploitation of women.

2- Street prostitutes are not ‘merry women’, ‘women of accommodating morals’, ‘ladies of the night’, or ‘night flowers’ who have an ‘easy life’. They are socially excluded women in very dire straits, who have a very dangerous profession.

She reminded us that many of them are invisible to the law and society in general, because they are illegal immigrants, some suffer drug addiction, as well as physical and psychological abuse, while others are simply struggling to make ends meet.

She told us she deals with women from the ages of eighteen to seventy; students, housewives, drug addicts, single mothers, pregnant women, and grandmothers.

I was shocked to hear that she was acquainted with a seventy-year-old grandmother who had to feed her grandchildren whose parents were in jail.

I’m not an expert on the topic, so I’m not going to give any more facts or theories. I just hope you’re as shocked as I am.

If you’re interested in helping, I’m sure there are plenty of associations in your town in which you can volunteer, and if you want to find out more there are numerous articles on the Internet.

Success

 

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 11: The Stalker

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;

Walter de la Mare (1873 – 1958 England)

640px-Cara-oculta-luna

Dark Side of the Moon, by NASA, Apollo 16. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The moon has fascinated both poets and scientists since the first human spotted it in the sky.We do not know for sure how the earth and the moon came into being, but there are two main theories proposed by the scientific community.

 

The first theory, called the ‘giant impact hypothesis’, which was developed by the Planetary Science Institute in the 1970s, claims that the Earth’s moon formed as the result of a colossal impact of a hypothetical planetary embryo, named Theia, with Earth, early in our Solar System’s history. More information on this theory.

 

The most recent theory, funded by the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), and published in 2012, proposes that the Earth and moon were both created together in a giant collision of two similar-sized bodies, which collided a second time forming an early Earth surrounded by a disk of material that combined to form the moon. More information on this theory.

381356main_image_1454_946-710

An artist’s concept shows a celestial body about the size of our moon slamming at great speed into a body the size of Mercury.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In any case, both poets and scientists have acknowledge the intimate relationship between the Earth and our Moon, and are searching for ways of either explaining our fascination, or providing proof of our common origin and mutual dependency.

 

For last Friday’s Flash! Fiction contest, our prompts were the word moon and the following sculpture.

liverpool-a-case-history

Liverpool — Hope Street. CC photo by Harshil Shah. Sculpture “A Case History” by John King.

The idea instantly came to my mind to combine the poetic symbolism of the moon and the scientific notion that both planets had a common origin.

In my flash fiction, the moon has become the lover who has been traumatically separated from his beloved. He cannot come close to her, but he can stalk her from a distance, because he still loves her and misses her, while he is patiently waiting for a longed for reunion.

 

The stalker

 

Let me watch over you.
I see you searching for my torch in the night, in wonder, in awe, perhaps even in fear.
Please don’t fear me. I’d never harm you.
You know I’ll always be there, faithful to you alone.
I can’t live with you, but neither can I live without you, so I have to stalk you.
You have understood and forgiven me.
I look forward to seeing your flashing eyes and hearing the murmur of your breathing.
Your beauty is stunning. I admire your patchwork dress and your flowing waves.
I love you.
I miss you.
I wish I were still with you, still part of you, as I used to be, as I was meant to be.
I cannot come to you yet, although you have visited me, on occasions.
You think little of me, because you consider me ugly and barren, and I am, compared to you.
But remember this; we were together once and you loved me, until we were torn apart.
I long for the day you will take up your suitcases, renew your hope in me, and bring life to my lonely planet.
You will come and I will be waiting, Earthlings.

@LucciaGray
200 words.
Would you like to read some of the other stories in this weeks’ Flash! Friday challenge?

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 34. Remembering the First of August

This weeks’ photo prompt:

Today’s Dragon’s Bidding:

 

 

Rules: Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt and dragon’s bidding.

 

This is my entry for this week’s contest (160 words).

 

THE GATE TO FREEDOM

‘My father’s grandfather died in 1830. He was born in Africa, made captive, sold as a slave by his own countrymen, and brought to Surinam to work in the sugar plantations. After escaping to the rain forest, he was caught, and both his feet were cut off, so that he could not escape again. It was a slow, painful death.

Don’t ever forget you owe your freedom to that man, and make sure you bring your sons and daughters here, on the 1st of August, at least once in your life.’

‘But father, I don’t understand. You were born in London, and I was adopted in China.’

‘Son, this proud, crumbling door is all that remains of a water-mill, which belonged to a sugar refinery dating back to 1830, before the emancipation of slaves. That gate, which nature has tried unsuccessfully to bury, holds the memory of something none of us can remember, and yet we must never forget.’

 *****

 

Have a look at some of the other entries here.

 

Basic background information to the Abolition of Slavery in the British Empire.

On August 29th, 1833, a new law for the gradual abolition of slavery was passed in the British Parliament, in London.

The freedom of slaves came in two stages. The first was on the first of August 1834, which marked the emancipation of all slaves in the British Colonies.

On that day, it is said that many slaves walked up hills and climbed trees to witness the dawning of the first day of their freedom. Thousands attended ‘Divine Services’ to give thanks and praise on the Caribbean islands.

It was, however, a case of gradual freedom with conditions. The only slaves freed were those who were not yet born and those under six years of age.

All other slaves were to enter a six-year apprenticeship during which they were to continue working on the plantations, without pay, for their former masters, for 40 hours a week, in exchange for food, clothing, medical care, and provision grounds on which they could grow their own food. They could also hire themselves out to other plantations and earn more wages and buy their freedom. This apprenticeship ended in four, instead of six years, on the first of August, 1838, when the second stage of freedom started.

On this occasion, a hearse containing shackles and chains which had been used to reduce rebellious slaves was driven through the streets of Spanish Town, Jamaica, and burned.

Sugar plantations have played an important role in Surinam’s history. Today tourists can still see water mills which belonged to sugar refineries, although they are now abandoned and covered with vegetation.

We cannot change the past, but we can remind ourselves of our collective past, honour the people who struggled for a better world, and work hard to ensure that the things we are not proud of, should not happen again.

 

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 29. The Snow Age

Word limit: 150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt below and Dragon’s required bidding: ‘patience’.

Flash Friday 27 june

Nuclear Winter Recon. CC photo by Paul Hocksenar.

 

I’m not very good at apocalyptic fiction, but I’ve given it a try, adding some fantasy elements to lighten the load. What do you think? Does it work?

 

The Snow Age. 2094.

Princess Stella was born with golden hair, and the sun in her amber eyes. In fact, the sun had shone relentlessly every 27th of June since 2064. Considering it a lucky omen, the King and Queen threw legendary parties annually for all the children, in the city square, to mark the anniversary.

At midnight all the lights were turned off for the firework display. The little girl must have fallen into the fountain, or perhaps she was pushed in by a jealous guest. Later, they discovered her body floating in the water.

The Queen yelled. The sun shut down. Within minutes, the square was covered with heavy snow, and all the children turned into ice statues. The emergency services, who had been warned of an approaching ice-age, supplied protective clothing, and weapons.

Nobody knew how long the snow age would last. When they asked, the Queen replied, ‘Patience, the snow will melt when Stella returns.’

***

Have a look at some of the other entries

Flash Friday Challenge (20th June, 2014)

Last Friday 20th June, was the anniversary of the first  day of Queen Victoria’s reign, although she was actually crowned a year later.

I wrote a post about The Birth of the Victorian Era for this occassion.

When I saw that the subject of the Flash Friday Challenge on 20th June was a cartoon including Queen Victoria, I decided to take part.

In case you don’t know about this challenge there’s a prompt and a word limit of 140 – 160 words.
This was the prompt for last weeks’ challenge: The picture below, and the royal command to include the concept of arrogance.

 

queen victoria pic

“New crowns for old ones!” –Benjamin Disraeli presents Queen Victoria the crown of India. Punch, 1876, by cartoonist John Tenniel. 

 

Have a look at this weeks’ winner

 

This was my entry:

Happy anniversary, your Majesty!

‘Happy anniversary, your Majesty!’

She yawned. ‘How kind of you to remember, Prime Minister.’

‘How could I forget, the 20th of June, 1837. A great year for Britain. The year I entered Parliament!’

She yawned.

‘Yes, a great year for the nation. Majesty, I have a very special present for you, which no other Prime Minister could give you!’

She yawned.

‘It is the Imperial Crown of India, Majesty. You will be the Empress of India.’

She yawned.

‘I am the greatest Prime Minister you have had, or will have, am I not?’

She yawned. ‘And the most arrogant.’

‘A little arrogance will help us make Britain the nation on which the sun never sets!’

‘I would give my crowns, my jewels, my castles, and the whole of India in exchange for Albert! Can you give me that?’ She screamed.

He yawned.