Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 20

We are barreling through another year — today marks the last FF of April already. Is anyone other than me in total shock about this? Whether shocked or totally unfazed, you are, however, totally and absolutely welcome to this weekly writing contest. It’s always such a pleasure seeing the writing community coming together to find inspiration, encourage each other, and then, of course, try to make the others eat their dust. Poetic justice is, perhaps, one of the finest forms of poetry!   

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Flash! Friday also welcomes back to the judge’s podium character-loving Pratibha Kelapure.  Genre and plot, she says, take second place to flowing narrative and fleshed-out characters. Adventures of the mind, perhaps? She can’t wait to see what characters you introduce us to and explore with today’s prompt. 

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.”   

Now let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the words “Encyclopedia Britannica'”):

Knowledge

 

***Today’s Prompt:

 

Canal Workers (Suez Canal). Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy.

Canal Workers (Suez Canal). CC Photo by Hossam el-Hamalawy.

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104 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 20

  1. My New Face
    (159 words)

    Got my new face last week. Put it on—with all the ointments, step by step as the instructions said—and afterwards I looked like something out of nightmare. Once it heals though you’ll think I’m a young Brad Pitt. (The website didn’t call their highest-price face “The Brad Pitt” but you knew that’s what they meant.)

    In the meantime I stay covered with a shawl, and show “The future me” to anyone who comes within reach of my phone.

    Not everyone’s excited. My coworkers at the Anthropology department don’t get why I’ve switched to reading newscaster training materials.

    McAllister’s the worst. When his wife visits, she kisses him and does that thing where she raises one foot behind her. He has a birthmark and thinning hair, so you can be sure I showed her my phone right away. She shrugged and turned aside, as if I’d showed her a picture of a new tie.

    She’s a terrible faker.

    • Knowledge and Wisdom

      The Friday after Ramadan, every woman in Sharbastan staged a general strike to protest their eroding civil rights.

      Shaherezade had already won the Emir over. She was his only wife. He worshipped her body. Attended to her wisdom. Doted on the brilliant children she bore him. Was awestruck by her Encyclopedia Britannica of knowledge, her endless bounty of story and song. Some of his staff, his relatives, his cabinet, looked sidelong upon him, snickering at his weakness. Inside he knew that she had taught him strength.

      They made loved in jeweled chambers, in a silken bed, then lay gazing into a cobalt-blue, predawn sky at the moon.
      “Do you feel you know me, my love?” she murmured.
      “I would know you blindfolded,” he smiled.

      Noon. A thousand women huddled in the square, facing armed AlQaeda, all forced to wear full cover.
      Shaherezade sent him a snap-chat. “How about now?”

  2. The Seer
    Astrid sat, pen resting on notepad, the air conditioner humming, waiting for the man lying on her couch to talk. He was a regular, paranoid schizophrenic, heavily medicated, plagued by nightmares.

    A right nutter her Dad would say.

    She coughed gently, watching the newspaper he had brought shaking in his grip.

    ‘Mr Soldo?’

    ‘The dreams are back.’

    ‘Every night?’

    Soldo nodded, his eyes fixed to the ceiling.

    ‘So I take it you stopped the tablets again?’

    Another nod, ‘they make me sick, in a bubble.’

    ‘Hence the dreams. Anything different?’

    ‘No, same three each night,’ he rubbed his eyes ‘six numbers held by a pirate; whales rotting on a beach; a girl in black taking a photo whilst mushrooms bloom behind her.’

    ‘Well Mr Soldo, my advice, start taking your sedatives.’

    ‘Seems pointless.’

    ‘Why?’

    ‘Today’s paper.’

    Astrid stared at the photo of a one-eyed man holding aloft a glass of champagne. In his other hand a ticket.

    Six familiar numbers.

    160 words
    @imageronin

  3. Disclosure
    [156 words]

    I turn on the TV while I scarf down a sweet bowl of raisin bran, gotta watch my health these days. I can’t tell if the news is showing a preview for a movie, or if it’s a preview for a movie that involves the news. I’m with Spielberg; you keep the news and the movies separate. What fun is it for the audience if the whole world knows that a tiny alien is living in a suburban home? Or in this case a giant spacecraft has landed atop the Great Pyramid, what an original idea. Whoever wrote the screenplay for this must have been high on paint fumes watching Ancient Aliens or Stargate.

    The camera pans around. Thousands of Egyptians clamor about, cell phones pointed at the spectacle. Wolf Blitzer appears. Cereal spills from my mouth onto my chest as words scroll across the bottom of the screen.

    ‘US Officials have “known” since the 1940’s’

  4. When You See Without Looking (155 words)
    @ifemmanuel

    Sometimes I’m tempted to trust my eyes, then I remember that it’s been staring at my nose all my life and I only know this when I look closely. So I bring the camera along; the organ for the seeing and the equipment for the looking.

    Take a look at these folks, they see me and assume they know who I am but they don’t. Some of them – the expatriates – stare and wonder “What misery she must be going through”, while the locals walk past thinking I’m one of them. But they are all wrong.

    This is what happens when you see without looking: sometimes you bump your knee against the table, miss some of nature’s wonder or get lost in an unfamiliar city. The consequence is usually innocuous. But these ones won’t be as lucky because, when I’m done looking at these images, I’ll be back tomorrow to usher them through the pearly gates.

  5. What does a mother know?
    150 words
    @okiewashere

    Maria photographed Harun as he shifted stone after stone on the mortar. He was just an ordinary construction worker, not the successful office manager he pretended to be when courting her 18-year-old daughter. Azadeh would be devastated
    Maria hesitated only the slightest moment before hitting the ‘send’ button, pocketed her phone and continued with her chores. She finished work as usual, and then hurried home. Azadeh was not there! The door to the balcony was open. Maria approached it haltingly. ‘What if…?’ Maria stepped out. Across the yard, half hidden in shadow, there was a couple – hugging. Maria gasped. Azadeh and a very handsome young man looked up and waved. Malik! Maria remembered him as a bespectacled skinny boy who spent hours in front of his computer. He had attended university for five years, returned some weeks ago. He and Azadeh were in love – not knowing how to tell Maria.

  6. Undercover

    “But I want to get to know Akila before I marry her!” I blurted out incredulously.
    “Nonsense, I have already met her and deemed her suitable.”
    “But what if I don’t love her?”
    “Bah, you kids and your love, too many Bollywood movies!”
    “I will find a way to meet her.”
    “I had better not see you anywhere near that girl!”

    That was the start of my plan. I ‘borrowed’ one of Mothers burqas and infiltrated a gathering at the house of my new wife. There was an animated group of women around her, chatting loudly. They eyed me suspiciously as I sidled up.
    “Don’t worry Akila, I am sure he is a nice young man.”
    She sighed, “I heard he is short, fat and ugly.”
    I opened my mouth to protest and then clamped it shut.
    Her eyes met mine, “I also heard he is too nosy for his own good and has large hairy man hands.”
    Uh oh.

    160 words
    @todayschapter

  7. Convergence

    ***

    Knowledge is power, so they say; power to control the seemingly arbitrary machinations of fate.

    It’s knowledge that I’m seeking now as I stand here masquerading as a woman in a burqa, anonymous in a crowd of thousands of disgruntled workers protesting outside the Suez Canal Authority headquarters.

    They don’t know that it’s not a phone or a compact video camera that I’m holding in my hand.

    They don’t know that I’m not from around these parts.

    The readings on the instrument I’m holding probably wouldn’t make sense to them, but they’re all too clear to me. In the figures and symbols I see eddies and whorls of energy converging, dimensional boundaries overlapping…and this is happening exponentially faster with each passing moment.

    A paradigm shift.

    Here. Soon.

    I wasn’t expecting this to happen for a while; I haven’t had time to prepare for the arrival of my kinsfolk.

    Dammit.

    Now what?

    ***

    @theimaginator20
    151 words

  8. They Say Knowledge is Power.

    I was born to wealthy parents, raised with an education, a degree. I have a brother, we are treated the same except when I look at my father wide-eyed and then I get my way. My father is guided by the true will of Allah (pbuh) and allows me freedom to choose. What I want to be, what I wish to see, who I want to marry. We are happy; I am happy.

    I read in the paper that I am not. It tells me I am suppressed, that I am denied my own thoughts and my childhood will be stolen from me by being given, in marriage, to a middle-aged businessman who is in want of a child-bearing wife. The headlines tell me I should reveal myself; that I have something to hide. I am suspicious, to be avoided, to be pitied.

    They say knowledge is power. What do they know?

    @_sarahmiles_
    155 words

    • I really liked the fresh voice in this. It is a thought provoking and well written piece. (I went with a story about the media and perception- although it’s very different from yours.)

  9. Hope
    [145 words]

    Husna knew she would remember this moment for years yet to come; she did not need proof of its occurrence, but her memory would only save the broad strokes and she wanted to savor every detail, share them with her children. She had worked diligently on the campaign to elect Kehlan Kehra, she believed in his fight to make education available to all children, his passion to heal their war-torn republic, and his willingness to compromise with the Sunnite majority in Parliament. As the sun set behind the crowd, Husna captured a photo of President-elect Ahmed Jallah giving his victory speech; although Kehlan lost, she was proud for her country’s first fair election in several decades. Husna recognized and appreciated that she was experiencing a moment in history, and took comfort in the knowledge that it was only the first of many steps toward change.

  10. The Naked Truth
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    160 words

    I want to look away. I want to ignore this photograph, to avoid this cloaked and covered woman. It–she–makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to offend, don’t want to judge. I want to fall back into humor, want to quip something about “the eyes have it,” or, “the ultimate selfie!”

    I can’t. My eyes return to hers again and again, and I wonder–even as my insides fume and rage that surely she must feel trapped, constricted, reduced, invisible–if that’s how she sees herself.

    Who is this woman? What is her life really like? Is she a prisoner of her own religion, her own culture, her own history, the way we Western women assume she is? The way we assume we aren’t? Or is there freedom in the hiding? Is there peace in the acceptance?

    I don’t know her truth. I don’t even know my own truth. All I know is, this photo makes me nervous.

    Because her eyes are smiling.

  11. Warring In Kabul
    Chris Milam @Blukris
    (160 words)

    Saboora snapped pictures of the exodus. Tanks, jeeps, and camouflaged soldiers kicking up a smog of dust as they paraded through downtown Kabul. Her daughter, Parisa, waved a tiny red, white and blue flag. Street vendors hawked kabobs and naan. She captured images of their so-called liberators. The Americans were leaving.

    Parisa joined her mother in the crowd.

    “Maadar, are you happy the war is over? We’re free now.”

    She stroked her daughter’s hair, intent on filling her with knowledge.

    “My child, we are women of Afghanistan. Our war isn’t fought with bullets shot from rifles or bombs unleashed during the night. We face the minds of men, a war of tradition and customs. Religion. We are imprisoned in burkas and repressed by antiquated tribal laws. The war remains as the Americans depart.”

    “Baba needs his dinner, can we go home now?”

    Saboora nodded and grasped her daughter’s hand as American rock and roll blared from the heart of Kabul.

  12. The Group Photo.
    Ian Martyn (martynfiction.com)
    159 words

    ‘Come on gang, it’s our last day, we’ve got to have a group photo.

    Oh, quit moaning. That’s it, that’s it, tall ones at the back, smaller folk at the front. You, little one at the back, stop trying to hide.

    No wait, you’ll all have to squeeze in. Come on don’t be shy, we’ve been working together for years. That’s better, that’s better.

    What do you mean, do I know what I’m doing? Who remembered the camera?

    Just a minute, you five at the front, what’re you doing? Don’t kneel down, you look like some weird football team that’s lost the ball.

    OK,OK, nearly there. Hey, you lot at the back face the front.

    What? No its not. Is it? Of course it’s not, why would Jonny Depp be here?

    Now, again, face the front. Heavens it’s like herding cats.

    What now? Well what was your foot doing there?

    Right, are we all ready? Everyone, say Cheese!‘

  13. Front Page?
    By Eugene Fairbanks
    Word Court 158

    Susan tried to take the picture discreetly. She was hidden under a burka. However, if someone noticed the camera they might question her. Her Persian was perfect but were her fake documents? The stoning of persons accused of being gay violated international law, but here that didn’t matter. Susan knew two of those sentenced to die. They had been introduced at the underground disco.

    The disco was a place where the repressed Iranians could go and cut loose. Western journalist could meet contacts to find out what was going here.

    It was there that Susan meet Ahmad and Cirrus. It was also at the disco that she had learned that they had been arrested. Susan had decided that the world needed the knowledge of what was going on. It was for that Knowledge that she was now willing to risk her own safety, for she knew that if she was caught, she might be the one being stoned.

  14. Peace Be Upon You
    160 Words
    ~~~
    That’s me—thinking about punching Frank in the face. He told me this was a costume party. It wasn’t. He said, “Wear that funny burqa thing from last Halloween! It’ll be hilarious!” It wasn’t.

    I looked at my phone to check the address Frank sent. I had to lift it to see through the small eye opening. This is the place.

    Frank had pranked me—probably for that thing with his sister. He’d sent me, without my knowledge, to an Islamic wedding in a big downtown ballroom promising that everyone will be in costume.

    I was in too deep when I realized, and the charming Pakistani man talking to me meant I had to talk in a high-pitched voice and try to sound feminine or risk being discovered as a racist, which I’m not.

    “Your eyes,” he said. “I really must see more.”

    “I—I can’t,” I whispered.

    Just then, my phone vibrated with a message.

    From Frank: As-salamu alayka.
    ~~~
    @NomadShane

  15. The Witness
    (155 words)

    She has the lens of her phone trained on the jostling press photographers who start snapping like sharks at the handful of protesters who have spontaneously become loud and aggressive. The photographers outnumber their subjects. The peaceful protesters have been invisible to their lenses all morning- slim pickings. But their appetite is satisfied by the rammy. They create a skirmish of their own: razor sharp elbows flashing. The protesters’ violence, in the moment, is short lived; but, is captured for all time.

    Headlines dictated. The world’s perception narrowed by its storytellers. A no human interest story.

    I allow my camera to capture her concentration, her unique view, as she records the hungry ‘newsmen’.

    I turn round, struck by the notion that someone might be photographing me. There isn’t. I’m disappointed there is no chain reaction, until I look at her again and see that in her steady hand, the story does not end here.

    • I find the ending of this story ambiguous, and that’s why it grabbed me; I’ve read it four or five times, and each time the final sentences mean something different. I’m not sure what is meant by ‘the story does not end here,’ but perhaps that’s what gives the story its strength. It’s a powerful comment on the power of the media – an often-misused power.

      • I did want the ending to mean a number of things. I’m glad you thought it was powerful. The basic thing was, if she has these images of the press, she then has a part of a bigger and truer story that she can show people- change starts small maybe. It just worries me how manipulative the media can be. Thanks for reading.

      • Thanks for taking time with it. Your entry this week is wonderful. It displays great skill, and is a winning story in my opinion!

  16. The Power Of Knowledge

    Fatima smiled widely behind her all concealing burka, only her eyes were exposed. some women complained about the traditional dress of their religion. Not Fatima, she treasured the anonymity it provided. Here she stood, not five feet away from her husband and he didn’t have a single clue that she was there!

    She held up the camera-phone and snapped the picture, she wanted to document momentous this day for posterity. Safwan spoke to the others. Hah! His every action belied the meaning of his name.

    She lip-read his words. “We’ll show theseworthless sons of camels who holds the true power in this land.” He boasted.

    They nodded their vigorous agreement. Fatima stepped closer to them. There was power in knowledge indeed! Her right hand reached for the trigger of her suicide vest. How much will the terrorists enjoy having one of their own weapons turned against them? she wondered, flipping the switch. Kaboom!

    154 Words
    karnemily@yahoo.com

  17. Buried

    I came, despite my husband’s decree that I stay away. It was no place for women, he said, but my sisters stand silently beside me, watching. We all had sons.

    The men ignore us, their eyes on higher things. Today, the canal is to be opened, and they believe its waters will soon be thick with money. They do not count cost in the same currency.

    ‘Progress!’ they yell, as though it was the name of God. ‘Profit!’ Their eyes gleam. ‘Prosperity!’

    I raise my camera. The canal is a dry gouge in the earth. I soon find the place where the wall collapsed; it is a different colour where they repaired it, afterwards.

    ‘We cannot excavate for bodies,’ they’d explained. ‘It is too costly, you understand?’

    But I could not find a place inside me large enough for knowledge like that.

    I take a breath, steady my hand and photograph my son’s grave before the waters cover it forever.

    @SJOHart
    160 words

  18. Free
    147 words

    Pictures were knowledge. Proof of something experienced.

    Aisha squinted against the harsh noonday sun. How free yet sheltered that western woman looked, large sunhat providing shade against the burning glaring rays. She imagined those sunglasses hid eyes unsquinted, unlined from years of protection against the sun.

    “I could be her if I left,” she thought.

    She glanced down at her camera, reviewed the photos she’d taken of these westerners. Noted how comfortable they looked, how equal the women seemed with the men. Not one woman had walked paces behind her man. No, each couple had walked together, some actually touching hands, shoulders connecting as they’d sidled along. No rush in their movements as they continued their tour of the San Diego Zoo.

    “Aisha!” The harsh tone announced her husband.

    She slipped the camera from view. Turned toward him with eyes downcast, awaiting his passing. Then Aisha followed.

  19. **Judge’s Entry. Not eligible to win.

    For Your Eyes Only

    I did not set out to change the world.

    I floated under the blue skies and sunshine in my childhood. Cute curls and pretty dresses, daddy’s little princess! When I met Mansoor in high school, I instantly knew I was going to spend the rest of my life looking into his eyes, knowing eyes of an artist, probing deep into the mysteries of universe. He painted a portrait of me. He said that he would cherish my smiling eyes forever!

    That was before I found out about Ahmad, the man I was slated to marry. That was the day I learned about my father’s orthodox principles. I rebelled and eloped. Someone followed. The burning sensation of acid took a few seconds to register. My face was on fire, but my eyes were spared, thanks to my designer sunglasses.

    Now, I am leaving to start the Movement. Poor Mansoor has to live that knowledge and my smiling eyes in this selfie.

    Pratibha
    @needanidplease
    160 words

  20. Let Them See (137 words)

    They told us if we turned out in numbers, the managers would take us more seriously. “Together, they won’t defeat us,” they bellowed with the usual swagger the organizers possessed the night before an action.

    No one was surprised when the fighting started. I wasn’t surprised when the organizers ran, letting the rank and file members bear the brunt of it. God forbid they dirty their own hands. I had usually stayed out of these things — too much blood staining politics in the canal. But so many women, and men, had disappeared in recent months. Where were they taking them? What was happening? Agitators, they mumbled. So, I resolved not to let the moment pass again. I snatched my brother’s phone that morning just for this opportunity — live feed, so the world would know, #wearehere.

      • Ok, it was my understanding that it was no more than 150. I will submit a re-entry shortly. Thank you!

  21. Under the Burqa (160 Words)

    I have seen you before, hovering at the edge of the crowd, watching as if I was a rare specimen in a zoo. Does my burqa frighten you? Do you know under this black cloth that I am fifteen? I like to dance and listen to music with my friend Marim.

    Marim’s father is rich and will send her to England in two years to study engineering at University. I ask Mama if I will go to University too, but she only sighs. I have heard her talking to Khalid Faizul. He is old and fat, and he stares at me. Marim says I should come with her to University, but I know I will never be allowed to make that choice. Khalid Faizul is rich, and he wants a young bride to bear him sons.

    Take my picture and know that underneath this burqa I am not so different from you. But my life will never be my own.

  22. Let Them See (144 words)

    They told us if we turned out in numbers, the managers would take us more seriously. “Together, they won’t defeat us,” they bellowed with the usual swagger the organizers possessed the night before an action.

    No one was surprised when the fighting started. I wasn’t surprised when the organizers ran, letting the rank and file members bear the brunt of it. God forbid they dirty their own hands. I had usually stayed out of these things — too much blood staining politics in the canal. But so many women, and men, had disappeared in recent months. Where were they taking them? What was happening? Agitators, they mumbled, dismissing the vanished namelessly. So, I resolved not to let the moment pass again. I snatched my brother’s phone that morning just for this opportunity — live feed, so the world would know, #wearehere.

  23. Through The Valley Of Peace (With Bare Feet)
    160 words

    Elizabeth turned in a tight circle as she peered out into the pitch-black gloom of the tunnel.

    She’d laughed when Amir told her that the canal was built on holy ground because the kid was all of six but he had more knowledge of the canal than the others she’d tried to talk to.

    Amir was gone, swallowed up by the nothingness that pressed against her skin like a blanket made of shadows.

    “Sorry it took so long, mama,”

    Amir’s voice shattered the silence and Elizabeth twisted towards it.

    “Your mother’s here?” Elizabeth demanded.

    There was flicker of light and Elizabeth stumbled backwards as she caught sight of a figure huddled against the far wall. The niqāb hid most of the person’s face but it didn’t hide the skeletal hands pressed against the figure’s knees.

    Cold, tiny fingers gripped her hand and Elizabeth couldn’t move not even when Amir smiled up at her. “Don’t be silly, you’re my mama now.”

  24. The Flame
    158 words
    Laura Carroll Butler

    Shararah had not known a time without violence; first the Taliban, now the Americans. Soon, the Americans would leave; at least, that is what she was told. There would be another violent group, freeing the people in the name of Allah or God or Freedom or some other deity.

    The stench outside of goat pee and stale cigarettes was the smell of despair and occupation, the smell of her life. When Shararah volunteered to wear the explosive belt, the others tried to discourage her, tell her this was a job for a man. They wanted the glory. But she insisted. Soon enough, women would no longer be allowed in public. Let me do this for them.

    She walked into the square close to the GI’s and took one last picture to post. This was what she hated most, the collateral damage. No one would know this was not about hate, but an act of freedom for Shararah’s soul.

  25. The Smallest Glimpse

    I call it a hobby; though it is more; my habit of capture via camera. The theft of a miniscule moment, before they are aware – and then – gone. I steal infinitesimal glimpses into others; the smallest morsel from each. They do not – will not – miss it. I am away before they know I am there.

    I do them my favour; clever encapsulation. Digital image lasts without limits; ensures their spark remains kindled, forever fire. Smile stretched to perfection; preservation of youth; happiness never hollowed by rejection; dulled down by ill luck. Herein, they are untroubled. My world. My people. My population.

    Their numbers grow, though my choosing is selective. I look for the moment which presents itself, unawares. To take it, whilst they look the other way.

    Cloaked in cloth, I evade sight; my layers my protection, from recognition and photography alike. No one can capture my true self; make me their printed collectable. I am the image master.

    @FallIntoFiction

    (160 words)

  26. A New Beginning

    “You have to start standing up for yourself,” Fadoua said.

    “Tell that to my husband,” Amrani replied. The corner of her mouth turned into a resigned curl. Not that anyone could see it. She had been wearing a niqab as long as she could remember.

    Amrani took a picture with her phone.

    “Listen,” Fadoua continued, “we’re living in 2014. Niqab or no niqab. Things are changing. And we have to be ready, ready for that one moment, that shift in balance. I know it’s coming. We all know it.”

    Amrani shrugged her shapeless shoulders. She continued taking pictures for the insurance. Her house burnt down the night before. She pointed her phone at the heap of ashes.

    “Where is your husband, actually?” Fadoua asked.

    “I don’t know. I haven’t seen him in days,” Amrani said. She was smiling. Not that anyone could see it.

    144 words
    @bartvangoethem

  27. The Window
    160 words

    Knowledge is power. So they say. I wonder what I should learn about myself.

    I wonder what I’ll learn from how my life was affected by years of abuse at the hand of someone who claimed to be my father?

    I wonder what I’ll learn from how I can stamp on the head of someone’s son just so my own can make progress in life.

    I wonder what I’ll learn from how I fear to question anything my husband wishes.

    I wonder what I’ll learn from the fact that I will not let my mind be shaped by the will of the authorities.

    They also say that the eyes are the window to your soul. To see your innermost being, what lies at your core. I’m too scared to look at myself in the mirror; so I take a picture of my eyes – just my eyes.

    And then I look. And I don’t like what I see!

  28. The eye of the beholder
    @dieterrogiers – 157 words

    Life through a lens always looks razor sharp. That’s why teens take selfies and watch concerts through their cell phones. It’s why I now ask my daughter to pose for me before she heads off to university.

    She looks dapper in the frame. Eager to learn. Ready to jump into the world and grab the countless possibilities it will offer.

    I choose the framing meticulously. Close enough to catch her pride. Wide enough to add a context.

    She is all smiles. She is certain she will be part of the first generation in our country that will control its own future. And in this photo she will always remain upbeat.

    On my parents’ living room wall there is a picture of me, not unlike the one I’m taking now. Impeccably framed. Full of hope.

    I love that photo. But I hardly ever glance at it anymore.

    It reminds me of the blurred world outside of the frame.

  29. Evasive Manouevres

    “She’s back.”

    Rob grunted and redistributed his glistening pink bulk on the lounger.

    “Leave it Sal. Don’t poke the bear.”

    Excepting a lagery belch, that was his final word, but really? Bad enough those people got this close to the pool, but taking pictures too?

    I stood up, dropped my towel and showed her what a real woman could look like if she wasn’t wrapped in the full letterbox. Well, mostly real; I’d split a bit pushing out the heir to the throne, and had some remodelling done. It’s amazing what they can do nowadays, especially when it’s cash in hand. You can’t exactly put a designagina on the books when the taxman thinks you’re skint, but what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him…

    I turned my sculpted booty to the pepperpot as she swapped her camera for a mobile. Rob’s phone began to ring, and despite the sun, I felt cold and exposed.

    “Why’s the taxman phoning me now?”

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

  30. A Daughter in Peril (158 words)

    Leda donned the black hood nervously. “What if he refused to help?” She rapped on the door of the dilapidated apartment building.

    “May I help you?”

    Leda took a deep breath. It had been years since she had seen him.

    “I need your help Beck. Your daughter is in trouble.”

    “I have no daughter,” he replied wistfully. “I almost did, once.”

    “Remember this picture?” She handed him the device. “Leda had just told you she was pregnant—scroll through—that’s your daughter.”

    “Impossible,” Beck muttered, returning the device. “Leda is dead—I killed her.”

    Leda removed her hood and stared into the eyes of her husband. “You did. Our daughter saved my life.”

    “You kept her from me all these years–why?” Beck challenged. “I didn’t even know she existed.”

    “You tried to kill us, remember? But now she’s in trouble and you are the only one who can help. She was taken by Morlings a week ago.”

    @CharityPaschal2

  31. “The Package”
    160 words
    @MSeeseTweets

    The package was concealed beneath my burqa. Taped tightly to my abdomen, even scrutinizing eyes would have assumed it to be a “baby bump.”

    Instead of what it really was.

    As I slipped through crowded streets, I scanned the buildings, looking for my target.

    I stopped to snap a photo. So many others were, it would have appeared out of the ordinary not to.

    I had only a vague description of the place. Not very helpful in a land where the color schemes range from dust to dirt.

    After a few harried minutes, I found it.

    Them.

    I summoned my courage and stepped in. Their eyes grew wide.

    “Are you…?”

    I lifted the black cloth, and tore from its cocoon the laptop.

    “We can’t thank you enough. This will help us get the message out.”

    “Anything for the cause of freedom, my brothers.”

    I nodded and slipped out as he powered it up, which activated the timer on the detonator.

  32. Dam’ed Insight
    (160)

    I lowered the camera my grandfather had gifted me when I’d landed the job to record the progress of the Canal, and looked on in growing puzzlement as the black robed figure smoothly traversed through the crowd, pointing a small device at each before moving on.

    On the other side of the break wall, I finally caught up to the stranger. “Excuse me? That device … is it a new camera model?”

    He pivoted, studying me with piercing eyes. “Yes. Not one that’s out on market, but very serviceable for my needs.”

    “I didn’t realize the Company had hired another photographer.”

    “They didn’t. I came to take pictures of those who’d once been there.”

    I frowned. “You didn’t take one of me.”

    “Didn’t need to,” his form wavered, disappeared. “You remained.”

    Screams sounded behind me as one of the dams collapsed, instantly engulfing everyone in the flood, halted only by the break wall.

  33. Race
    by A J Walker

            invisible

    She could feel everyone looking.

            they couldn’t really see her

    She crept into the area with the knowledge that this was where it was all going to happen. The best speck in town.

            no one knew who she was. for certain

    She felt her eyes jumping with electricity, like excited atoms before an explosion.

            her handbag behind her

    An explosion.

            her heart raced; she smiled. no one could see

    She took her phone up, pressed record. She was going to catch it all for posterity. The magpie cocked his head to one side, seeming to look at her suspiciously.

           she in a portable hide. no one could see her. she was there;

            someone was

    Hidden in plain sight. Cocksure and happy as goosebumps plumed over her, hairs standing to attention as the moment approached – the phone going to catch it all.

    As her daughter passed with the egg and spoon in tact she blushed, this video would be priceless.

    (160 words)
    @zevonesque

  34. The Eye of the Beholder
    160 words
    @mishmhem

    I move among them, fearless in my anonymity. I have played this game long enough that I know that they will see what I want them to see. True, there is always the chance that someone will see through my disguise, see what I am actually doing: it is one of the risks of the job.

    Espionage is a dangerous game, but I play it well.

    Today’s assignment was to gather information on the waterways and canals in the region. I size them up, with certain aplomb, gathering the images we will need when we take over. Instead of a threat, they see a woman cheering on her menfolk and taking pictures.

    They never suspect that behind my mask I spell their doom. How could they? They see me every day, me or ones like me… but I gather the information safe in the knowledge that I blend in.

    Today, I am a camera… tomorrow I could be a stoplight.

  35. This is probably the first photo prompt that pissed me off. I hate burqas and chadors and the “tradition” which forces women to wear them. The Quran, by the way, doesn’t even mention this restrictive covering, just that both men and women must dress modestly. Anyway, that’s my rant; here’s my story:

    Seek and Ye Shall Find

    “Man, I thought we came over here and got our butts shot off so these women wouldn’t have to wear those things.”

    “Old traditions die hard, corporal. Get used to it.”

    The sergeant compared a man in line to the photo of the al Qaeda leader they hunted. No match.

    He probably stared at the woman in the burqa longer than was seemly, but, hey, it wasn’t his religion. Her posture was much more confident than most women. He should have her searched, but that was a pain.

    When he motioned the woman aside, she took off, the sergeant and the corporal on her heels. She turned to look over her shoulder, tripped, and went down, burqa flying over her head.

    The soldiers stood over the figure, who was no woman, who was in fact the tango they sought, buck naked under the confining burqa.

    “Now, that,” the sergeant said, “was knowledge I didn’t need to have.”

    @Unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    157 words

  36. Life Lit Up
    (145 words)

    Even from this distance, I recognize you, Hassan al-Fathi. Who else could it be, surrounded by your gaggle of guards and guns?

    Before the revolution, global defense companies hired me to work their secret contracts. I developed the weapons the superpowers used in their distant conflicts.

    Never would I have dreamed that your shadow would fall upon our peaceful land. That my sons would die at your hands, victims of my work. That I would welcome being forced to wear a burqa, to cover my scars.

    I continued my work in secret. My greatest weapon is now ready. My sons will be avenged. My granddaughters will grow up basking in the light of freedom.

    You think you’re safe, Hassan al-Fathi? You have no idea what I’ve planned for you. You are accustomed to weapons that break people’s bodies.

    I’ve learned how to steal your soul.

  37. “Snapshot”
    158 Words
    @friendoframen

    People assume that they know who I am. They see my niqab and think “oppressed”, “poor thing”. They imagine me as some helpless damsel in need of a Western rescuer. What they don’t know, what they don’t see among the folds of black cotton, is the woman choosing to wear it. A woman who takes pride in this symbol of her heritage, her culture, her home…

    I take in the crowd, equal parts tourists and locals. When I left for university I never thought that the street performers would be something I’d miss. Their acts, while impressive, were often on the grotesque side. This one was no exception. I reach for my phone in the familiar pockets of my robes. I begin to frame the overly bendy man in the shot, but find my hand twisting. It’s a sunny day, I am home, what could be more beautiful? With a click, my own eyes smile up at me.

  38. “Violence Spares Neither Youth Nor Elder”
    160 words
    @patrickjstahl

    Yaron peered through his Seeing Stone. The horizon broke from its distant foothold and planted itself before his nose.

    He focused on the base of a thick evergreen. Its ridged bark leaked sap from innumerable wounds.

    A fresh trickle emerged. A well-muscled young man withdrew his knife from its purchase in a nearly-indistinguishable knot. Yaron crinkled his nose as the man licked the sap from his blade and moved to throw it again.

    “What are they doing?”

    Yaron turned to gaze down at the weathered face of one of the site’s senior builders. The builder’s white headdress seemed in stark contrast to his position as an architect. Many of his colleagues wore the brown of the Clay Goddess. “They prepare for battle, I fear, belliciste.”

    The old warmonger removed his veil. “Then please give me your blessing, Knower.”

    Yaron cursed beneath his breath. He closed his eyes and whispered, “May the blood of our enemies feel cool on your face.”

  39. Va Shoma (And You?)
    @brett_milam (160 words)

    They raised the crane, which hung the lifeless body of the thief. Feet and hands tied, eyes blindfolded. Unable to see the pockets of flashbulbs from the cameras. Some, like Nadia, took silent portraits with their phones.

    She heard a small gaggle of guys in slacks near her talking about Iranian’s love of football. Two old men looked near-jostling each other; one seemed to be an Esteghlal fan and the other Persepolis.

    “The Iranian people support us the most!” the Esteghlal fan said, as he waved his finger.

    “But we won nine championships. The most ever, you old fool!” the Persepolis fan retorted.

    Now with her photo saved, Nadia felt a tug on the entrails of her burka, which hardly any women she knew wore.

    “Stop that,” she said, and her nephew, Darius, barely three feet, did.

    He wanted faloodeh. But she wanted shole zard.

    Two kids near them playfully wrestled. Darius jumped in, hunger forgotten.

    Shole zard it was.

  40. Double-cross Dressing (160 words)

    Betram felt like he had found paradise. There was no place like Egypt for disguise. It made spying ridiculously easy, provided you dressed as a female. A modest black burqa, easily purchased before he traveled, needed no tailoring.

    The purpose of the form of attire was to conceal any visible gender attributes and it worked perfectly since Betram was only five foot six, with small hands and feet. A huge lummox like Harry MacTavish couldn’t have stuffed his six foot four frame into the costume with equal success.

    Betram spoke perfect Arabic. He managed to keep his voice in a higher register. The only problem was fending off the attentions of friendly women who wanted to be social. Women unveiled around each other, so any invitations by fellow workers were quickly rebuffed.

    Then there was a certain attractive young canal worker named Hamid, who for some reason found female Betram attractive. . .if only he would fancy male Betram, too.

  41. Knowledge is power!
    @SVBookman 158 words

    She stepped forward and pointed the small collection device at the construction of the new security data center. Anonymity was paramount to her mission, so she had dressed as closely as she could to the native women. She was hot and hated covering her face. Still, it was necessary to remain hidden.

    The small “click” made by her hand-held analytical-diffuser was custom-made to sound like a cell phone. What was not seen nor heard was the short burst of xenox rays. The rays would completely pass through objects and simultaneously sent info back so a duplicate of the structure and all items inside and outside for up to 100 meters could be made.

    Having the objects added to their race’s knowledge which their computers, in turn, would convert to pure energy to run their ships and, ultimately, their cities. Soon they would have enough power to take off this cursed world and revive their entire race at home.nted the small collection device at the construction of the new security data center. Anonymity was paramount to her mission, so she had dressed as closely as she could to the native women. She was hot and hated covering her face. Still, it was necessary to remain hidden.

    The small “click” made by her hand-held analytical-diffuser was custom-made to sound like a cell phone. What was not seen nor heard was the short burst of xenox rays. The rays would completely pass through objects and simultaneously sent info back so a duplicate of the structure and all items inside and outside for up to 100 meters could be made.

    Having the objects added to their race’s knowledge which their computers, in turn, would convert to pure energy to run their ships and, ultimately, their cities. Soon they would have enough power to take off this cursed world and revive their entire race at home.

    • I apologize for the above. Something happened when I copy/pasted it in.
      Here is what was truly written:
      Knowledge is power!
      @SVBookman 158 words

      She stepped forward and pointed the small collection device at the construction of the new security data center. Anonymity was paramount to her mission, so she had dressed as closely as she could to the native women. She was hot and hated covering her face. Still, it was necessary to remain hidden.

      The small “click” made by her hand-held analytical-diffuser was custom-made to sound like a cell phone. What was not seen nor heard was the short burst of xenox rays. The rays would completely pass through objects and simultaneously sent info back so a duplicate of the structure and all items inside and outside for up to 100 meters could be made.

      Having the objects added to their race’s knowledge which their computers, in turn, would convert to pure energy to run their ships and, ultimately, their cities. Soon they would have enough power to take off this cursed world and revive their entire race at home.

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