Bye, Bye Bully

So, May is Short Story A Day month. Today's prompt got me thinking, especially after the last few months helping coordinate and offer domestic violence trainings. Learn more about the May writing challenge here: http://storyaday.org/ and here's the story that was sparked by today's prompt:

Bye, Bye Bully

“So, today’s training is geared to help you get into the mind of the abuser. We’re all pretty savvy when it comes to surviving violence, or we wouldn’t be here. What do you need to know to avoid hitting the repeat button that gives abusers the opening into hurting you again? How do these people think? Ideas? Anyone?”
Madge had edged her chair into a corner that faced the door to the dingy meeting room. Crossing arms over trembling chest, she eyed the group leader with a jaundiced eye. Great, Madge thought, put the pressure on the already victimized. Just what they need.
The room remained stubbornly silent. Undaunted, the group leader continued.
“It doesn’t just end in broken bones, bruises, black eyes, or death. There’s a pattern of control, and it starts in the early days.”
Small shiftings of discomfort rustled in the room. In the early days of hope, those tiny red flags were generally set aside. No one was perfect, right? The excuses mounted up, a complicated weaving of self-blame and rage against the man, the machine, the boss . . . but never the bully. Hyper-awareness of every nuance in mood or behavior built to a fine crescendo, that inevitably came crashing down when the attention and compliance slipped. No matter how it was sliced, the victim facing the abuse always seemed to be at fault, as far as Madge could tell.
Madge sighed, and unfolded her arms. Who cared? All she wanted to know was how to fight back effectively. Running hadn’t helped. Calling the cops certainly didn’t help. The courts were overbooked and didn’t have time to sift through the nuance of who started it, and who ended it. It was only because Madge had a good attorney that she was sitting in a survivor’s workshop as opposed to jail. But damn it, she wasn’t taking it any longer.
The group leader’s voice droned on, stretching the afternoon into an eternity of meaningless dribble. Finally, the class was wrapped up with a list of community resources: Need housing? Go here. Need food? Go there. Looking for help with filing court documents? Call advocate so-and-so.
            Nothing about where to get courage, Madge noted. Well, she had a solution to that little pickle, and then courage would be one step closer, and Madge wouldn’t need to deal with the abuse any longer.
           The group leader ended the court-ordered class for victims, opening the door to the hallway. Fresh air flooded he room, and fled before the overpowering, rank stench of frightened women. The group leader handed a half-sheet certificate to each woman as she left the room – proof of attendance for the courts.
Madge was the last person to leave the room, and gingerly accepted the piece of paper. She briefly met the group leader’s eyes, before commenting, “You forgot the most important part.”
“What’s that?” The leader raised an eyebrow.
“The part about courage. The part about bullies only hurting others until they’re stood up to.”
Madge shrugged and slipped out the door, ignoring the woman’s mouth opening and closing around impotent protestations of escalation, and the greater strength of a man.
Idiot, Madge thought. Why does everyone think violence only ever occurs between a man and a woman?
An hour later, Madge had closed the deal on her courage, heading home. Once there, she carefully arranged the chair she would sit in to allow her to keep an eye on both the door and the window. Madge clicked off the safety, swearing that if Rose showed her face here today, her home would be the last one Rose ever entered.


NaPoWriMo2014 -- The final offerings

Book VI, v. 22
Meditating on the Wisdom of Marcus’ Way

I do my duty
life’s tasks strewn haphazardly
along cobblestone paths
sweetly beckon sore feet
creased in leather sandals
they cut deep
Other things do not trouble me
simplicity’s siren song deadens desires
once fed with pixie dust and clapping hands.
For they are either without life or reason
a child’s guideposts
leads only to way stations
glittering in diamond ice and empty hallows
or have rambled
where now are the cobblestones of blessed surety?
and lost their way
the minotaur’s claws
now grasping
unreasonable dreams


And how shall I tell you of the jewel
We laid to rest today?
A diamond in the rough
Her sparkling edges
Demand attention
Unabashed and filled with joy.

It’s a curious thing
to consider
the depth and height and width
she brought to her world
to people every day
all around her

how little I knew
and regret fills me for the impatient need
to push through each day’s deeds
not realizing
that the most important deed of any day
is the attention, the time, the care, the concern
we give to one another.

The jewel teaches
Even when the shine has died.


NaPoWriMo2014: The Day's Offering

Welcome to my ghost-world
tattered rags of dreams passed by
simple shreds of new beginnings
and yet, with each passing day
the world shrinks while I fill with age.

What then to do with these bountiful dreams?


NaPoWriMo2014: Day 21: A Notion to Try a Lune (or perhaps a few . . . )

thinking on found words,
mind goes blank . . .
syllables in fear.


time is ticking by
life awaits
a new day begins


Get that gadget gone!
just see me . . . 
researcher cries foul


NaPoWriMo2014: Day 20: A Silent Nod to the Rites of Easter

He is risen, yes?

From the grave to Heaven’s gate

Lone star scintillates.

NaPoWriMo 2014: Day 19: Unequal Bittersweet

And then there are those days . . .
(You know --
Thoooosssssseeeeee days?)
When my mind does nothing,
but grind in monotonous repetition:
caught in fast forward
And then stuck in slow motion.
The well-worn refrain,
warbles and warps and cries in dismay --
Yes, those days.

The dream is long since dead.
But some inner, vestigial, completely obtuse part
Clings . . .
trudging onward through hopeful reverie,
rather like a head keeps talking
even after the guillotine separates it from the tie to reality.

So, I wonder . . .
Is the bittersweet make-believe
evenly divided? Or like so much of what went before,
does it just sit quite firmly at only one door?
Forever knocking.
How long before
the understanding
that what is locked away
will stay that way,
perhaps, forever?


NaPoWriMo2014: Day 18 - Spark

She tells history sitting near the hearth,
pauses and wipes a lone tear. Flames dance like art
in her glasses perched slightly askew.
Choose your story from her grocer’s mart

of delicacies now too hard
for more than tasting just the salted part
that rolls across a wizened tongue.
She didn’t twist your muscled arm

into proper submission, a farce
of respectful attention. So, what harm
do you do when you refuse to see
the rain fall into her heart?

To focus on the day is hard, oh, so hard.
But! Open doors to days long-gone and clouds part
allowing gentle fingers to lovingly wrap memory’s shawl
'round her bent form – all she needs is one wee spark.