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Monday, September 9, 2013

Simon Says

“Sara wants to be Madonna circa 1985 for Halloween.”

“Cute,” Gary said over the razor hum. “Wait. Not that cone bra thingy?”

“That was the ‘90s.” I laughed. “No cone bra. Promise.”

I rinsed off my apricot mask and steeled myself for a debate.

“Simon says he wants to be a witch.”

Gary eyed my reflection. “Witches aren’t boys. He can be a wizard.”

“But he wants the pointy hat, the broomstick,” I countered. "The green face."

“If Simon wants to be green, let him be the Hulk.”

*
“Simon says boys on the bus have been teasing him.”

Principal Bennett furrowed her brow at us. “What sorts of things are they saying?”

Simon shrunk in his chair, his eyes imploring me.

“They’ve been saying he's gay,” I said.

“You know how middle schoolers are.” She waved her plump hand dismissively. “Everything’s ‘gay.’ It means ‘stupid’ to them.”

“Well, they call him ‘faggot.’” I thought my throat would close up. “One kid stuck his crotch in Simon’s face and asked if he wanted to suck his …”

I couldn’t look at my son. He’d begged me not to come.

Ms. Bennett stood up. “Simon, please wait outside.”

Once the door closed, the principal sat beside me.

“May I be frank, Mrs. Flask?”

I nodded.

“I think Simon’s wardrobe choices make him a target,” she said. “Perhaps more suitable attire would put an end to the teasing.”

* 
I stood on the porch trembling. I’d just returned from shopping with Sara, who was home from college. We had walked in on Simon with another boy.

“Simon says he loves him, Mom,” Sara explained quietly, touching my arm.

You knew about this?!” I pushed her away.

*
Gary came home from work and found me in tears.

“Simon says Misty wants a divorce.”

Why?!” He asked. “What happened?”

We’d been so thrilled when they started dating. And when Simon proposed to Misty, we knew his previous troubles were behind him.

“I don’t know,” I sobbed. “Simon wouldn’t say.”

#
This week's Trifecta Writing Challenge: The entry must be 33-333 words and include the word "mask" as defined below:

MASK
a: a protective covering for the face
b: 
gas mask
c: a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation
d: a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material
e: a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries

42 comments:

  1. Wow, you got so much in using so few words. Truly gut-wrenching.

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    1. Thank you, Melissa! This one took some serious wrangling to get to what I felt would be a complete story, but I'm happy with the way it turned out. :)

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  2. Your story is a sad one that happens a lot. Gays have been bullied and tortured for so long. I feel proud to be in a society where this subject is taught differently to make way for a more peaceful and understanding human race. We have a way to go, but we are on the right track!

    I was unsure who Misty was....I had to read it twice, then I got it. A very compact version of a very desperate and confusing life, well told.

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    1. Shawn, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree. We have made progress regarding the gay culture, but there is so much room for improvement. I'm teaching my kids not just tolerance but acceptance. Hopefully the next generation of adults will be more enlightened.

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  3. Wow. I mean, wow, this was an incredibly full and gut-wrenching story. Kids can be merciless, but as parents, our job is to love them no matter what.

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    1. Thank you, Janna!

      Yes, kids can be so cruel. But everyone should have the freedom to be who they truly are at home. It makes me sad to think of the many people who live their lives playing a role to please their friends, families, etc.

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  4. Lord! That was a rough read. It is so difficult to let our kids find their own way in the world, especially when we hobble them with our own behavioral expectations. Great job!

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    1. You have to let kids live their own lives--even when they do goofy things (which, in my children's case, is about 85% of the time.) :)

      Thank you for the kind words.

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  5. You can say a lot about peer pressure... but this was tough. I guess sooner or later Simon will find his way.

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    1. It's sad thinking of all the years people waste not living what's in their hearts, but I can understand the fear.

      Thanks for reading!

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  6. Brilliant the way you used "mask" both in a literal and metaphorical sense. Loved how you built the story in vignettes. Very original and moving piece of work.

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    1. Jayne,

      I LOVE that you mentioned the metaphorical usage! I hadn't planned that when I started writing, but as the story grew, it developed that way.

      Thank you for the lovely comment!

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  7. You did a great job reflecting how blind and hurtful people can be - even those closest.

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  8. Applause for such excellent writing! First time visitor but not my last:)

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    1. Welcome, Vicki! Thank you for such kind words. I'm so happy you visited and look forward to seeing you around here. :)

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  9. Well done! We have similar themes this week, as far as the bullying goes. Had we more than 333 words I would have made it clear my young character was gay as well. That's the way I imagined him. Then I went in a different direction. This is terrific. The way you wrote the timeline, a difficult thing to do, works beautifully. Great piece...

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Steph! I really enjoyed your story. Very creative and the ending was just fabulous. :) Telling the stories we want to tell in just 333 words is definitely tough, but I love the challenge.

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  10. Although you used the word just once (literally) but I really liked the way you spun the whole tale around the word mask (figuratively)!! Deeply impressed.

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    1. Thank you for the lovely feedback. I'm just thrilled that my figurative use of mask is coming through. I really wanted to make the point that others expected Simon to mask his true self to make things easier on him (and them). And, eventually, he does just that.

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  11. Loved reading this. Again, I was unsure who Misty was when I reached that part. Cleverly compact on the page and decade-embracing in action and feeling. Nice write!

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    1. Thank you so much! :)

      I appreciate the feedback about Misty. I can see why you wouldn't get who she was on the first reference. Hopefully it becomes clear she is Simon's wife as you read further into the vignette.

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  12. Winner. Very succint, but vivid, description of a whole life. Kudos.

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    1. I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks for reading!

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  13. Oh Ivy. I loved this. Honestly, truly loved it.
    I don't know if either of my boys is gay, but Jacob is so creative, so interested in dressing up as Santa, Willy Wonka, Peter from Narnia that I wonder sometimes.

    and I promise , here in the public, that my son will always be loved, accepted, supported, encouraged by me if he he is. I just want my children to be loved and to feel love that lifts them, makes them happy, makes them their best selves.

    I am so sorry for Simon, this fictional character, I want to wrap him in love.

    WOW.

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    1. Kir,

      "Wow" is right! Your comment gave me goosebumps. I agree 100% with your wish for your children. I want my kids to know real, two-halves-make-a-whole, forever-and-always love like I have, and like my parents had. If that love happens with someone of the same sex, so be it. I wish more parents felt that way.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for the lovely, heartfelt comment. Knowing my story touched you so deeply makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. :)

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  14. This must be so real for many people (including some close to me). Well written. (RogRites)

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    1. Thank you! Sadly, I do think this is a reality for too many people.

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  15. Touching, powerful entry, Ivy! Great read.

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  16. Ivy,loved the way you eased in the prompt word in a routine convo and then skilfully wove a tale around it, with elements of today's world and a parent's dilemma and conflict about their child's sexual preferences,into it-bravo!

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    1. Atreyee, I appreciate your kind words. I really wanted to do this issue justice because it's something I feel strongly about. Thank you for the great feedback.

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  17. This is an amazing story. I love the way in travels in time. Very well done.

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    1. Thanks for the lovely comment, lumdog. :)

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  18. I think the saddest part is Mom's reaction at the end - not her grief that Simon and Misty were splitting up, but that she thought his "previous troubles" were behind him. She'd tried, but couldn't quite accept him as he was...

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    1. Exactly! I think she felt she was being a good mother to Simon (trying to get her hubby to agree to the which costume, going to the principal, etc.), but when she had undeniable proof of his sexual preference, her real feelings surfaced. She would rather have Simon mask his true self than have to face the fact that her son is gay.

      Thanks for reading!

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  19. A sad story, but one that seems to be all too real for so many kids. You treated the subject with great care and compassion.

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    1. Thank you, Tara. That was my goal, so I'm very happy to know you feel that way. :)

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  20. I'm not a fan of cats, but I don't want kittens to die :P Jokes apart, this was beautiful. If ever I had kids... I hope that I wouldn't deny them their lives. *super like*

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    1. Haha! Great job saving a kitty. :)

      Thank you for the nice words. I pray I would do a better job than Simon's parents if either of my kids came out to me. Above all else, I want them to be happy. How can you be happy denying your true self?

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  21. I've known many people who have gone through similar situations. As a mother I can't even imagine not supporting my kid. Heartbreaking.

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    1. It is truly heartbreaking. Thank you for stopping by!

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