Flash Fiction Friday 065: Glistening in the Moonlight by Dr Margaret Aranda

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the sixty-fifth piece in this series. This week’s is a 572-worder by multi-genre author Dr Margaret Aranda.

Glistening in the Moonlight

Sheriff John was a Sheriff.  He wore a shiny badge and shiny boots, and wore a brown cowboy hat with a Sherrifs golden buckle that covered up all his hair.  I never saw his hair.

Every week on television in Los Angeles, California, he would sing, “Put another candle on my birthday cake”, as a yummy carousel cake spun around and the camera went in for a close up.  There were lions and tigers and bears on the carousel.  Roar!  They spun around and around, as if dancing in their own world, oblivious to the rest of us.  They were only focused on going up and down, down and up, chasing one another around and around. They were simply Royal.  Majestic.

I was six.  I closed my eyes really, really tight and I thought that if I closed them hard enough and “thought” extra hard, I could turn into one of these gorgeous animals.  And so I did it.

I closed my eyes and I blinked just like that Genie in TV that has a cute little home in a bottle with red draperies and black bedsheets, golden tassles all about.  I closed my brown eyes and I thought so hard that I expected to open my eyes and literally be in the body of a great lion.  My eyes crinkled.  At first, I could feel nothing.  After a time, I could definitely feel my tail growing, and I thought.  “It must be almost time to open my eyes.”

I scrunched my eyes more now, as I wanted to make sure that nothing would be missing.  I wanted to be sure as ever that my teeth would be long and sharp, and that my claws would glisten in the moonlight.  “There has to be nothing better than glistening in the moonlight,” I thought, momentarily forgetting that I was still a girl. My mouth cracked a gentle smile as again, my tail was starting to come out.  I waited for it to grow fully, still crunching my eyes tightly.

Now I thought I was ready to open my eyes now, without getting it wrong.  Certainly I was on the right track.  Ever so painfully slowly, I opened my eyes.  At first, they ached from squinting so hard in my fervent prayer.  I saw the light of day as they opened, and there he was again!  I glared closer, disbelief covering my entire body.  Sheriff John was reading from a piece of paper.

“Wait!”, I thought, “I’m not supposed to know what a piece of paper is!” My eyes began to blur as the first tears started forming.  “I must not be a lion!” He wouldn’t stop to care about my plight. “Linda, Joanne, Sarah, Tom, Edward, and Brian!  Wishing you all a Happy Birthday!” said Sheriff John, happy as could be.

I was disappointed, hurt, and well, I was sad.  I was shocked.  “How come it didn’t work?” “I can’t believe it didn’t work!” I was already six years old, the smartest one in my class, and I got Gold Stars on my tests!  What did I do wrong?

I sunk in the living room sofa.  I cried big tears of reality and disappointment. And I learned, as we all do, that I couldn’t just change into a lion whenever I wanted to.

I kept it to myself until just now.  I’m only telling you because I know you won’t tell anyone else.

***

I asked Margaret what prompted this piece and she said…

I entered a Blog Challenge about every age from 1-25 for the month of May.  This has a lot of hits and several Google+ Shares, so I thought you might like it.

I did very much. Thank you, Margaret.

MargaretDr. Margaret Aranda and her daughter were in a car accident in 2006.  She was unable to walk or talk for several years, was bedridden for six years, and lived on an iv for three years.  She is a Stanford-trained doctor in Anesthesiology, Critical Care, and is American Board Certified in both.  She is trained in Age Management Medicine by Cenegenics Medical Institute, and spends her time keeping patients well in Preventive Medicine, writing, blogging, touching bases with 7,000 FB Friends, and petting her two dogs.  Her first book, No More Tears: A Physician Turned Patient Inspires Recovery, is by Tate Publishing and comes out in December, 2012.  Additional works include Stepping from the Edge, Little Missy Two-Shoes Likes a Ladybug, and her WIP is From Menarche through Menopause:  A Journey through Time. She is tucked away in a horse community in Los Angeles, CA.

You can find out more about Margaret and her writing via…

  1. http://www.drmargaretaranda.blogspot.com
  2. http://www.facebook.com/NoMoreTearsAPhysicianTurnedPatientInspiresRecovery
  3. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stepping-from-the-Edge/370110906353041
  4. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Margaret-Ferrante-MD/198253210250379
  5. http://word-dysautonomiamd.blogspot.com
  6. https://www.youtube.com/user/DysautonomiaMD
  7. https://www.youtube.com/user/VirtualMedSchool1

***

If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here, or a longer piece (1001 – 3,000 words) for Short Story Saturdays click here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with multi-genre author Kenneth Weene – the five hundred and eighty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.

For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.

As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Author Spotlight no.136 – memoirist Michelle Taylor

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and thirty-sixth, is of memoirist and non-fiction author Michelle Taylor.

Please note: although I endeavour to keep this blog light and cheerful, I do cover all genres of writing and some are likely to be more diverse or sensitive than others. Michelle’s is a very traumatic and inspiring story.

Michelle Taylor is a National Speaker and Author who learned some very important lessons from her journey in life and raising her children – Justin, Jordan and Meghan. She has endured a lot of pain during the course of her life and is so proud of each of her children and their accomplishments. They taught her so much about love and literally saved her life as she managed to pick herself up each time, dust off and begin again.

Michelle’s life story of abusive relationships sends a strong message that the cycle of abuse must stop!  Victims of abuse can learn from her incredible journey that will give women the courage and strength to take positive steps in the right direction.

Many people do not understand why women stay in any verbal or physical abusive relationship.  The truth is many women become so accustomed to it and end up missing the control, abuse, pain and fear simply because they feel lost without it.

Learn from Michelle’s story how she rose above it all with strength, courage and wisdom and her strong faith in God. Michelle candidly shares her difficult journey and darkest secrets that kept her constantly on the run from herself. A definite page-turner that will inspire and motivate to heal those dealing with the pain of complicated feelings toward their abusers.

And now from the author herself:

I am a 45-year-old woman that lives in North Carolina, USA, and when I was twelve years of age that is when my whole world turned upside down. ‘Lies in the Womb’ is a story about the terrible truth of being born as the result of an affair. It is a story of surviving years of abuse, longing for unconditional love and dealing with years of lies. The important lessons learned will help those who have endured abuse or are still in an abusive relationship.

My Mother was married with a three-year-old child when she decided to have an affair, and I was the product of that affair. Needless to say my Mother lost custody of her first daughter because she was pregnant with another’s man baby. Because of this, it is something she never got over and took this pain out on me. I left home seven times between the age of twelve and fifteen. Soon afterwards I was gone for good and then that is when I got into domestic abuse, one relationship after another. I felt no self worth, nor did I feel like I deserved any better than what I was getting. It took me many years to get over all this pain, including Mother stealing my first child to get even with me for her losing her own daughter years ago. It is a very sad story and one that I have cried myself to sleep over many times in my life.

Lies In The Womb’s title came from me being a lie in my Mother’s womb, this is my first book that is being published by Tate Publishing, also I have written two more that go along with the first one, also being published by Tate. I have had several interviews on National TV already. My goal is to help men and women to feel self-worth. I tried three times to kill myself, I didn’t care if I lived or died after my Mother took my first child. I have been belittled all my life, emotional abused, physically abused, and more importantly mentally abused by others, including my own family.

One of the biggest problems when dealing with manipulators is being aware of what is happening.  It is high time we bring these actions out into the open.  To be honest, the best defense is to remove yourself from the toxic person, however, some manipulators behave the way they do because we make it easy for them to do it.  If you are reinforcing their behavior, sometimes these relationships can be salvaged, but not always.

Here are some examples of manipulators and the best way to handle them:

Those That Belittle You

Those who deliberately belittle you in attempts to control you are one of the worse types of manipulators. These people may say you’re not worthy of their company or may be a little more subtle than that by telling you, “You’ll never find another man or woman willing to put up with you like I do.”  The best defense is to give these people clear consequences for their actions. These people thrive from your reinforcement knowing that you won’t fight back. Instead, make it clear what will happen if they continue to act or say things that are demeaning to you. However, you must follow through with your threat. These partners will never treat you as an equal, unless you put the same amount of pressure on them to change, as they do for you to conform.

Imposers of Guilt

Partners that manipulate relationships by guilt, understand they have a strong hand when dealing with a person of a caring nature. They may claim their problems are your fault, making you feel like you have to put up with them, otherwise they will be placed in an even worse position than they already are. They are telling you that by being with them, you have become indebted to their happiness. The best way to deal with this kind of guilt is to appeal to the person’s self-image. Tell them that you’re sorry they’re going through a tough time, but you need a strong partner who can take care of himself or herself. If that doesn’t bring them around, they are not ready to accept responsibility for their own life, and you’re better off without them.

Conditional Love

Sometimes manipulators use conditional love to shape the tendencies of their partner. In other words, if you do what they want, they will offer kindness, attention, and love. However, the moment you fail to reach their expectations, they take it away, demanding you work within their terms. Your defense is to not give-in to make things better. If you give into their fits, even just once, they will learn that the best way to manipulate what they need, is by using love as a bargaining tool.

Good and Bad Times

Some manipulators fear intimacy, so they maintain a balancing act of both good and bad moments throughout the relationship. This keeps things from escalating to a commitment. The reason this works is because the bad or sad times influence a partner with low self-esteem to accept the poor treatment in order to regain the favor of their lover. The good times reinforce their commitment, by strengthening their belief that they must be in a blissful relationship. While you may not always be happy, you should never feel you have to beg for your partner’s forgiveness to reap a small reward. Your best defense is to remind yourself that anyone who intentionally hurts you is not worth your time. Take advantage of their next low point or sad moment to get out of the relationship.

Broken Promises

Some manipulators get what they want by making promises they won’t keep. They’re not all bad, as some just like the attention, or don’t have the backbone to tell a guy / girl they’re not interested. Their intention may be there, but when it comes time to deliver, there isn’t enough motivation to get the job done. In defense, you should never loan anything of value to someone you don’t know. In addition, when in doubt you should ask for the promise prior to holding up your end of the bargain. For example, if a partner promises not to lie if you take them back, tell them that you will, but first they must regain your trust. This is one way to establish consequences for their actions, while giving them the opportunity to avoid punishment in the future, by proving to be genuine with their commitments.

It can be difficult to avoid manipulators.  There is a common thread throughout all of the above and that is a lack of awareness.  If you are not happy in your relationship or feel insecure, there is a chance their intentions for you are not honorable.  It is my hope that you will become aware of what is happening before it’s too late and make the necessary changes.

My schedule has been rather hectic lately with speaking to various groups about my story of surviving abuse in many of my relationships.  Yesterday I took a break and watching a segment on Oprah’s Master Class.  She had a woman on the show that had been married to a man for 14 years.  Like many couples, they were madly in love at the beginning, got married and eventually had 2 children.

Things changed after the children arrived.  She noticed odd things beginning to happen like finding marbles or toy cars on the stairs at night after the children had gone to bed.  She always kept a glass of water on her nightstand and it tasted like metal, bitter and left a nasty taste in her mouth.  Soon, her husband started cooking meals, specifically dinner however, it too tasted odd.  In fact, she found a green substance underneath the cheese in a pizza he served her.  Turns out, it was rat poisoning.  Can you believe it?

The point is the signs were there and as Oprah pointed out, it was important for not only her guest, but for all of us to learn about the signs of abuse.  They are often subtle, silent and unexpected.  No one wants to believe that the person they fell in love with could possibly do something so horrible to their mate.  Her guest did not want to believe it was really happening but after the rat poison discovery, she finally took a stand, changed the locks, recorded their phone conversation where he admitted it was rat poisoning and finally, filed for divorce.

Unfortunately, many women get hooked on the roller-coaster ride of an abusive relationship or the need to please their husband or the man in their life.  Of course, when there are children involved, it makes it much harder to leave the relationship no matter what is going on, simply for financial issues.  It takes a lot of courage to leave a relationship and sometimes it takes time to gain some perspective on what is best for yourself as well as your children.

It is estimated that 80% of domestic abuse victims remain silent, suffocated by fear of the unknown life without their spouse, self-doubt and financial ruin.  Whatever is going on in your relationship, the first step is to recognize the signs and symptoms of an abusive relationship.  Here are some of the signs and symptoms of an abusive relationship:

  • Do you often feel afraid of your partner or avoid certain topics for fear of making him angry?
  • Can’t do anything right?
  • Feel you deserve to be mistreated or emotionally numb?
  • Does he ever yell at you or humiliate you in front of others?
  • Criticize or put you down
  • Excessively jealous?
  • Constantly checks up on you or looks through your cell phone?
  • Threaten to take your children away from you?
  • Force you to have sex?
  • Destroys your personal belongings?
  • Limit your access to the phone, money or the car?
  • Controls who you see or where you go?

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then it is time to take action.  Make a plan and do whatever you have to do to stay safe and keep your family safe.  If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.

That was really interesting. Thank you, Michelle. You can find more about Michelle and her writing via her website http://www.liesinthewomb.com.

***

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with romantic suspense author Amy Romine – the five hundred and fifty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!

See http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008E88JN0

or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Flash Fiction Friday 057: Know that You are Loved by Dr Margaret Aranda

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the fifty-seventh piece in this series. This week’s is a 621-worder by multi-genre author Dr Margaret Aranda.

Know that You are Loved

The sound stayed with me day and night and night and day.  Nothing could take it away, nor did I want it to cease.  It was like the sound of breathing, like the beating of the heart or the ticking of a clock.  In its serenity, it calmed me to know that it was still alive.  But after a while, the sound echoed inside my room and my head, too.  It beat at me as if the wind twisted into a storm, beating its rain upon a windy and loud window pane like Dorothy was befuddled with in The Wizard of Oz.

Drip drop.  Hum drum.  How many ml are left?  Let me climb up my intravenous line and check to see.   Hmmm.  Only 11:30 pm and yet I know morning will be here soon.  500 ml left at 7 ml/hr = about 7 hr of fluid.  Calculating.  Yes.  Then I need to wake up at 6:30 am to change the iv fluid to a new 1000 ml bag.  So, do I want to wake up at 6:30 am? Well, actually, no.  I do not.

So I look around my perimeter.  I see the dark wooden wardrobe next to my bed, just like the one Aunt Nancy used to have.  Except mine was full of iv tubing, and alcohol pads that could smell if I scrunched my nose just so.  Hers was full of Beswick Bone China from England, hardly a comparison.  I check the iv fluid and but of course all the new bags are downstairs, cold in the refrigerator.  No one took out a bag at 11 at night, because no one has to live on an iv and wonder how long the thing will last into the night.  If it runs out while I am sleeping, the iv line could clot.  Then I could lose my PICC line completely, and that would be sad.

I decide to change it now, because I do not wish to awaken early.  Drip drop.  Hum drum.   I change the bag.  I do my duty.  I have to, needless to say, no one else will do it for me.

I look in the mirror and ask myself if I am loved.  It is a hand-held mirror, blackened silver that needs shining.  Of course it is next to me to ensure that I don’t have pepper in my teeth after a meal.  This is a little thing that gives me grace and stature.  I have to be able to smile, knowing that I do not have black pepper between my teeth.   I know it is not important, but then again, I know that it is important to me.  So I have to live my life forward, not backward.

I have to keep my eyes not on the race, but on the distance.  If I pace myself, I know I can do this.  I can take one day at a time.  I can know that I am loved.  This gives me meaning, purpose, and drive.  I look at the iv and hear the hum drum and the drip drop once again.  I look at the tear-shaped drop of fluid…the same drops I gave to my patients when I was their anesthesiologist.  And I know without a doubt that the drop brings life.  Before, the drops brought life to my patients.  Now, they bring life to me.  Tear-shaped drops, falling one by one, onto the meniscus housing a well of life to come.

But instead of being bitter about it, I just rise up on the inside.  I tell myself that I can do it.  I tell myself that not only can I do it, but I will do it.  I will do it.  I will.

***

I asked Margaret what prompted this piece and she said…

My daughter and I were in a car accident in 2006.  I was a patient for several years, and required an iv at home. I’ve since recovered from the iv, but will never forget what it was like.

Which makes the piece all the more powerful. Thank you, Margaret.

Dr. Margaret Aranda is American Board Certified Anesthesiology, Critical Care, and Forensic Medicine.  A  graduate of the Keck USC School of Medicine, she completed her studies at Stanford University School of Medicine, both as an Anesthesiology Resident and a Critical Care Fellow.  She spends her time writing, seeing patients, and caring for her daughter.  She loves to enter forums with her 7,700 FaceBook and You Tube friends, and can be caught riding a stationary bike every so often.   Her first book, ‘No More Tears: A Physician Turned Patient Inspires Recovery’, is scheduled for production by Tate Publishing in December 2012.  Additional works include ‘Stepping from the Edge’ and her Children’s Book, ‘Little Missy Two-Shoes Likes a Ladybug’; both of these are scheduled for 2013 production.  Tucked away on horse property in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Aranda’s lifetime motto is:  “Live to Serve”.

You can find out more about Margaret and her writing via…

***

If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with debut literary novelist J.R. Crook – the five hundred and twenty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.