WEP/ISWG June Challenge - Caged Bird
WEP has joined forces with the IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group). The collaboration has brought very welcome support to the WEP administrators and will also attract more entries. And this greedy reader loves that.
WEP is changing. Participating writers can now select their favourite entry and the only award is People's Choice. I have some reservations about that move, but will be happy to be proved wrong.
This month's challenge is Caged Bird. Fiction, non-fiction, photography and poetry are welcome, which gives us a lot of scope.
For a variety of reasons I have wimped out on the last few challenges but have joined in again this month.
STICKS AND STONES...
you led him on... you always did like it rough...you shouldn't have been out so late ... that skirt was too short... you have brought shame on us... no-one will believe you... you should have fought harder... you shouldn't have been drinking... it is just sex... you weren't a virgin anyway... it could have been worse... tell the truth, you fancied him... you need to get over it...why didn't you?... why did you?... you... you... you...
The words surround me. They overpower me. They are heavy, hard and loud. They bludgeon and bash me. Some cut deep, incisions that cannot be stitched. Even the softer words have rigid and inflexible cores. They form a barrier between me and the speakers. A wall between me and the person I thought I was. A blockade between me and the person I hoped to be. A cage. I shrink inside. I try to disappear.
this will teach her a lesson she won't forget... it is god's will... god's gift to you... she said it was rape, but no-one was charged... a baby is always a blessing... you should... you shouldn't... why did you... why didn't you... you will have to...
These words come from family. They come from friends. They come from strangers. They are mostly quieter now. Soft and insidious. Relentless. Some I am not meant to hear, but I do. They make me feel as sick as the seed he planted does. Lacerated and isolated I shrink further.
you must be so excited... it is all part of god's plan for you... enjoy your freedom now... you were made for this... you will love your little stranger as soon as you see him or her... everything happens for a reason... you will forget the pain immediately... god's gift to you... you are HUGE... you are tiny... you look wonderful... you look drained... you should... you shouldn't... you must...
My body is heavy. Nearly as heavy as my heart. They anchor me firmly into the here and now. My dreams have died. And still the words continue.
congratulations, you have a fine healthy boy...
The same impersonal doctor as last time repairs the wound and stitches me up again. Like father, like son.
He is here, where I can finally see him. Do I love him? No.
Can I ever love this powerful and needy reminder? Perhaps. My arms instinctively reach for the small stranger I have cradled in my body for so long.
But... as he was born I saw, heard, felt the door to my cage being welded shut. Will I remember the words to my song when I am paroled years from now? Can I learn to fly again?
Full Critique Acceptable.
This is incredibly poignant and relevant. I'm very much moved and have not words of critique except "Thank you for a wonderful bold statement."ReplyDelete
Rawknrobyn: Many thanks. Many, many thanks.Delete
You have bravely shared in this pieceReplyDelete
Cloudia: Fortunately my tale is fiction. Sadly it is a truth for too many.Delete
Marvellous piece of writing. I think advice should be given very carefully and your piece has just proved my point. Certainly makes one think..... Well done.ReplyDelete
Christine: Welcome and thank you. Who ever coined the expression sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me was an unmitigated liar.Delete
Oh boy, does this ever resonate in the here and now, at least here in the states, where once again women's bodies are being legislated. Not the men's though.ReplyDelete
Strayer: I have been watching the stories about those changes and hoping our own politicians don't get any ideas.Delete
Gosh, so interesting to put those words together. I understand where all fit in having attended to people like that in the past :)ReplyDelete
Margaret-whiteangel: I have spoken to more than one of these women on the crisis line and they make my heart ache.Delete
There is a lot to think about here Sue. This calls for reflection. You’ve hit one of my hot button issues here. A real punch to the stomach. It’s not fiction to someone out there.ReplyDelete
A Caged Bird indeed. :-(
Denise Covey: How I wish it was fiction. For everyone.Delete
Wow. This is an incredibly powerful piece. I wasn't satisfied with letting it rip out my heart once, though... I had to read it a second time. This has been the truth for far too many women over the years, and with the legislative challenges now facing Roe v Wade, I'm afraid it's going to be a truth for far too many more. get worse. It's mind-boggling that it was a female legislator who claimed that pregnancy was a "silver lining" in cases of rape and incest.ReplyDelete
I wish I'd written something for this challenge. Then I could vote for you. Your offering is really outstanding, Sue.
Susan: A silver lining? I am grateful she didn't claim it as gold but... And assume that she wasn't speaking from experience.Delete
And thank you. Your always positive comments are a gift.
Gosh, such powerful stuff...like a punch to the stomach!ReplyDelete
This has certainly made me reflect upon how difficult it must be to be facing a situation like this for real...and how much suffering, both mental and physical, that would entail.
I totally agree with Susan...outstanding!!😊😊
Sending much love and hugs ❤❤❤
Ygraine: Huge thanks. And hugs.Delete
I saw a sketch on f b of two characters one spewing words from their mouth like an arrow and the arrow piercing the other person's heart, wish I could post it here, such powerful words you have written; words can hurt deeply just as actions can.ReplyDelete
Linda Starr: Exactly. Words so often leave lasting scars.Delete
Oh my! This touched me deeply.ReplyDelete
Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: High praise, and thank you.Delete
So well-written. So sad.ReplyDelete
Sandra: High praise coming from an accomplished author.Delete
Aww. That's kind of you.Delete
You packed so much emotion in 436 words. Something most of us struggle with. It's like the words leaped from your heart to the keyboard.
Sandra: Thank you. It was a very slow leap, but I am glad that you felt the emotions I tried to portray.Delete
Powerful writing! I love this. It captures the essence of a dividing issue and brings it down to a personal level. Well done.ReplyDelete
Carol Kilgore: Echoing my reply to Sandra.Delete
You made my heart ache for her. Very touching and well-written.ReplyDelete
cleemckenzie: And again. I am so very grateful for the support and encouragement.Delete
Truth and raw. Powerful and so good. Your writing pulls you in and holds you captive. Love it. Write more!!!ReplyDelete
T. Powell Coltrin: I am glad that her voice captured you. Very glad.Delete
Wow, good writing. This is raw and cuts to the bone. It may only be fiction but they are words that carry some scarring. It reminds me of the phrase, "You made your bed, now lay in it" It sounds so abusive.ReplyDelete
Julia: Some of those words which slip so easily from people's mouths ARE abusive. And I wish I had remembered the 'you made your bed...' one when I was writing this. Thank you.Delete
Is there any rhyme or reason to irrationality? Humans who have transgressed and inflicted willful cruelty upon others cannot escape the reaction of time. It is our greatest friend but like a double edged sword time can be so unforgiving. Still, some say, the greatest friend of truth is time! - Time heals.ReplyDelete
Spacer Guy: I am not certain that time does heal all wounds. Some scars are permanent.Delete
That is so bittersweet. Such a tough place for anyone.ReplyDelete
Alex J. Cavanaugh: Not a lot of sweetness in the mix.Delete
Such a powerful, heart-breaking story. A cage of words - yes, we all know that one. And the woman is always blamed, because, of course, 'her skirt was too short'. Argh!ReplyDelete
I'm so glad you participated in this challenge.
Olga Godim: Thank you. I am sorry to have broken your heart though.Delete
It makes me sad and angry. Sad for her and the child, angry because until we stop blaming women for the abuse they receive this horror will go on.ReplyDelete
messymimi: Judging people and making their decisions for them rarely ends well does it?Delete
Wow! I'm almost speechless with the power of this. So many mixed messages to bear and it's always the girls who suffer. imagine how she will feel later if the child resembles the father!ReplyDelete
River: Oh yes. And if the child does resemble the father will she be able to give him a fair deal?Delete
Very powerful and meaningful, However, it takes two to Tango.ReplyDelete
Vest: It does indeed, but in my eyes tangoing needs to be a consensual activity.Delete
Wow! I have legit chills from your writing, EC. Chills up and down my arms. Oh my gosh. That was a powerful read.ReplyDelete
Elsie Amata: Many thanks. I hoped that it would provoke feeling.Delete
this seems a bit disjointed at first but as I continue reading, it seems less so. it makes perfect sense the way it's written - one voice overshadowing by others. it's hard to take other people's opinion, you have to be a really strong person. this is sad and real. a great piece on the subject of caged bird.ReplyDelete
have a lovely day.
lissa: Thank you. That cacophony of judgemental voices is perhaps a bit disjointed, but I find them so in reality too.Delete
There is powerful prose here, EC. I like the structure of mini-prompts and emotionally charged responses to them. I wondered how much was autobiographical, but I see in the above comments that it's not.ReplyDelete
John Wiswell: Thank you. Not my autobiography fortunately but real for too many. This piece was triggered by quotes from two wildly disparate women (Germain Greer and Maya Angelou) and fed by calls I have taken on the crisis line.Delete
Timely, especially with some new laws in the southern states of America banning abortion. I hope she finds her way back to her dreams.ReplyDelete
N. R. Williams: Thank you. This piece was written before we heard about those abortion bans, but it certainly sits well with my feelings about this step.Delete
Very, very powerful. I don't believe anyone should have to carry to term a pregnancy they don't want.ReplyDelete
Fortunately, I did not become pregnant either of the times I was full-on sexually assaulted, although the guy who did it when I was 18 said he wished I would so we would have to stay together. The guy who did it the second time ended his assault with "well, now we're back together again."
What the hell are guys like this thinking when their unwilling "partner" is telling them "no," and "stop?"
My blood pressure always rises several points when I tell these stories.
The Real Cie: I don't think anyone should be forced into such an important life decision. There should ALWAYS be choices. I am very grateful that your sexual assaults didn't force another decision on you, and mourn for you and every one else for whom they are a reality.Delete
some strong writing here, powerful and painful. This happens every hour or even minute. Women as victims and then as guilty, slapped down. I am getting angry as I write this.ReplyDelete
Susan Kane: Thank you. You will not be shocked or surprised to hear I share your anger.Delete
Awesome job you did here, EC, with an emotional punch to the gut. I fear we are sliding into the abyss in my country right now - real Handmaid's Tale - and you nailed it.ReplyDelete
You've captured the victim's helplessness, having no voice, having one's identity being sliced to ribbons by family and strangers alike. Your tale is moving, terrifying, unsettling. I hear the cage door slamming shut in your words. Keep writing. You reach down and extract the essence and fling it at the reader! Bravo, you!
River Fairchild: I am so very glad that Google/blogger finally relented and allowed you to comment. Flinging things at the readers? And here I am seeing myself as a more subtle revolutionary than that...Delete
Goosebumps here, from head to toe. The power of your writing is extraordinary EC, and is clearly matched by your empathy, insight and understanding.ReplyDelete
Kim: Many thanks. I am an empath, which is often a double edged sword.Delete
As always a powerful and evocative story.ReplyDelete
Roland D. Yeomans: Thank you.Delete
An elegantly crafted story, that reflects the modern issues that are more common than most would like to believe. Well done.ReplyDelete
Christopher Scott Author: Thank you. It yanks on my heart strings just how common these issues are world wide.Delete
My heart aches. So very, very powerful.ReplyDelete
And sadly, this happens far too often.
Beautifully - heartbreakingly beautifully done
Jemi Fraser: Many, many thanks. I am glad to hear that it wasn't overdone, and wish (how I wish) that this was an unbelievable fiction.Delete
This was powerful. Jolting. You have a gift with writing. You reach your readers. You reached me.ReplyDelete
mail4rosey: I am a dabbler rather than a writer, but this is a hot button topic for me and I am glad that my reaching out connected.Delete
Hi EC - the twist comes at the end ... what a ghastly situation to find oneself in ... thankfully like you I haven't travelled that road ... yet know that others have.ReplyDelete
Very strong ... a caged bird for a long time ... wonderful writing - really digging into our well of acceptance for horror ... good for you for reminding us about these situations - and yes I know you you help others. Thank you - Hilary
Hilary Melton-Butcher: Thank you. You will be unsurprised that this piece sprang from calls I have heard on the crisis line.Delete
So powerful. Wow. Thanks for sharing this.ReplyDelete
DMS ~Jess: I am always awed at the strength of the callers on the crisis line, people who endure things which would have me velcroed to the carpet under the bed refusing to come out.Delete
Powerfully written, EC. Well done. My heart aches for both the innocent mother and the innocent baby. There are no easy answers - not even abortion is an easy answer, as I'm sure you've also heard on the crisis line. No easy answers at all.ReplyDelete
jenny_o: No easy answers at all. Just the same I do wish that all of us allowed more room for people to make their own decisions, without feeling the need to put our own two cents in. Sometimes insistently.Delete
A big Yes to that.Delete
jenny_o: Over the years I have found that the power of words to hurt and scar is severely under estimated.Delete
Cindi Summerlin: It is. And true for far too many women.Delete
How sad! I don't know what to say. I've read this and can feel the pain of the woman but I can also feel the pain of an unborn child that comes into a world and doesn't feel love. What happened the baby cannot change. It is a terrible mix of misguided loyalties, misunderstood Bible teachings, and shame from parents and friends. This woman lives in a cage filled with darkness and it hurts.ReplyDelete
Told with much emotions.
Pat Garcia: Thank you. There are definitely no winners in my flash. And I am very grateful you could feel the emotion.Delete
So emotive and powerful, unfortunately there is a lot of truth in your story for some women. Well written.ReplyDelete
Sally: Thank you. Even one woman would be too many.Delete
All those comments from everyone else about a person's situation always tend to irk me. Especially when they start throwing religion and stuff in there, like some divine force is guiding them to say it because they guided it to happen. Pffft. Hard and sad when in such a cage.ReplyDelete
Pat Hatt: No argument from me. I think many of those comments/judgements border on abuse. And they are certainly not helpful.Delete
Dear EC, this powerful piece of writing, reflecting as it does (I think) what you have heard again and again on the crisis hot line stuns me to muteness. I have little to say except thank you for revealing just how we often unintentionally injure one another with our ill-chosen words. Words that show no appreciation of another person's trauma. Words that reveal an insensitivity to the emotional and psyche pain. I found myself realizing that I didn't know what would be appropriate to say. I'd feel as if I stood on holy ground, before the burning bush of the divinity within that person who is crying out for help. And what would I say? I wonder how you know how to respond. What words you say to soothe and comfort and to reach across the chasm that I'm sure the other person feels divides her from everyone else. Thank you for the work you do. And thank you, too, for finding a way to help us truly hear the poignant cry that so many women have sobbed. I wonder if you'd consider putting this out beyond your blog to reach more of us whose hearts needs to be awakened. Peace.ReplyDelete
Dee: Huge thanks for your comment. We get excellent training on the crisis line, training which continues for as long as we remain. One of the most important things we do is listen. Listen and hear that pain.Delete
I have not the remotest idea how to spread this more widely but thank you.
Powerful words that tore at my soul, even if I have never been near this horrific cage. But my wife has. And the 'sticks and stones' triggered memories of the bullying I went through as a kid. Family etc say all the wrong things. Same as all the phrases and suggestions about my chronic illness.ReplyDelete
Moving and tear-inducing. Unforgettable. Best use of the theme that I've read.
Roland Clarke: Many thanks. I too heard the sticks and stones phrase many times as a child and a young adult. And still bear scars and wounds from those words which 'will never hurt me'. I hear you on the chronic illness front too. Rather a lot of hurtful words have been said to help. I am sorry that your wife knows this particular pain too. Very, very sorry.Delete
Congratulations for your runner-up win for this powerful contribution. As I said when I first read it, it was the best use of the theme - and remained at the top as I read more.Delete
Roland Clarke: Many, many thanks. I am humbled and grateful. It must be so hard for the administrators to choose a short list and for the judge to make a decision.Delete
Beyond powerful and poignant and done with your usual consummate skill and economy of words! I think rape is the only crime where we put the victim in a 'prison' and heap further verbal abuse on her. Absolutely magnificent take on the prompt - the metaphor of social stigma as a cage turns into a truth for too many victims.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for sharing this at WEP - so good to have you back.
Nilanjana Bose: It is good (and scary) to be back. And huge thanks for your always positive comment.Delete
I simply have to chime in again, Sue, to say how the comments we receive have an effect on us. This comment of Nila's is an excellent representation of what a WEP comment should be - supportive and uplifting and understanding of the writer.Delete
Denise Covey: Thank you. Words are indeed powerful beasts, and Nila's comment (and yours) are always uplifting and supportive. For which I thank you.Delete
This is so powerful and gut wrenching. How many women have found themselves in a position like this? Far too many. I'm glad you got to participate this month!ReplyDelete
L.G Keltner: Thank you. I am glad I pulled my big girl pants up again too. And have been blown away by the stories I have read.Delete
That's an incredibly powerful piece! It's particularly relevant today.ReplyDelete
Carrie-Anne: Thank you. How I wish this was fiction. For everyone.Delete
Very moving - extremely powerful language. This is something that happens more often than it should, in India as well. You've portrayed her feelings so well, such a difficult thing to have to go through and that constant reminder of what the rapist did to her.ReplyDelete
Kalpana: Much more often than it should. Thank you. I am still trying to comment on your stunning piece, but it looks more hopeful this time than it has done.Delete
A very moving piece indeed.ReplyDelete
Bernadette: Thank you.Delete
Wow. Deep end of the pool here, and the floaties are off.ReplyDelete
That's powerful, deep emotion.
I love the cage of opinions from people who have no right to their thoughts.
And then the cage of someone who isn't a blessing. And who might well grow up knowing they're a cage, which is a whole other debate.
So many changes that this world needs.
Keep this conversation going.
J Lenni Dorner: Many, many thanks. So many cages and we do indeed need to open some doors. Open them wide. You are right about children who know they are cages. Another debate, and a heap of pain.Delete
This is an incredibly powerful piece. I really loved the pacing between her thoughts and "their" words, her pain and yearning for freedom juxtaposed against the cage of assumptions and words by others.ReplyDelete
Tyrean: Thank you. I am glad that it came across. How I wish that people didn't feel so free to assert their opinions as facts. (I would really like to see that tendency caged.)Delete
Really powerful and eloquent piece, and of course all too relevant. As I read, I thought that one thing we can all take away from that is to keep our platitudes to ourselves! Opinions, too, when it comes to other peoples' situations. Another cage made by society.ReplyDelete
Rebecca M. Douglass: Opinions presented as incontrovertible fact are the ones which bother me. Sadly there are a lot of them.Delete
Toi Thomas: Thank you. I hope you are feeling better now.Delete
I'm so glad you jumped into the WEP for this round! What a great contribution you've made. Thumbs up for sure.ReplyDelete
cleemckenzie: Many thanks for your return visit. I am honoured and grateful.Delete
Huge congrats on your 2nd place. Well deserved for such a powerful piece!ReplyDelete
Jemi Fraser: Many, many thanks.ReplyDelete
Found and read this piece a little late, but better than never. REALLY better than never. This write is AWE.SOME!ReplyDelete
J C: Thank you. I really appreciate that.Delete