Getting to the heart of the matter

Charli Mills has taken us on a  road along which I am happy to follow. Her prompt this week is in turn stimulated by the 1000 Speak for Compassion  #1000speak initiative.

February 11, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that demonstrates compassion. You can explore weltschmerz (enabling us to care enough about what’s wrong) and meliorism (driving us to try to do something about it) if you want to explore those specific terms. Consider posting on February 20, too.

I normally ramble for a bit but not today. I want anyone reading this to go these link and read what’s being said. And then post on 20th February and link back. Let’s make headlines.

As for my flash, well for such a special week I’m treating you to two. Mary’s continuing story and a special.

For Mary, here is the link to the previous flash but first a short synopsis of….

 The story so far

After her father, Peter, dies, Mary North discovers she has a half-brother, Rupert. Her father’s affair with Angela wasn’t known to Mary’s mother (who is already dead).

When Rupert begins to contest Peter’s will, Mary’s discomfort becomes active dislike. Then Angela dies and Rupert withdraws the action, causing Mary to question her feelings. 

In Peter’s papers Mary finds she was adopted. Rupert tells her Peter was her father and her mother, Mandy (Amanda) Johns died giving birth to her and a twin. Mandy was Angela’s cousin.

Penny, Mary’ daughter likes Rupert and, despite Mary’s agonising wants him to be an active family member. Mary however despises him. Paul, Mary’s husband tries to act as peacemaker. Penny has a dog, called Peter after her grandfather.

Mary begins the process of selling her father’s house. A vision of him takes her to the rockery where human bones are uncovered. The police begin tests. Mary is convinced it is her dead twin. The results are awaited

The twin, who Mary thinks of as Sharon, comes to Mary in a dream confirming she is dead and promising to be with Mary. However Mary’s aunt Gloria, her mum’s sister, senses Mary perturbation pointing out Sharon was the name Mary gave to an imaginary friend when a child.

 An arm outstretched

‘Your mum never knew.’ Mary’s Aunt Gloria sipped tea. ‘About the twin.’


‘I don’t know her name. Sharon was your imaginary friend.’

‘Do you know what happened to her?’ Mary shivered; she hadn’t told Gloria about the bones in the garden. ‘She is dead, isn’t she?’

Gloria sighed. ‘Have you asked Rupert?’

Her hated half-brother.

Gloria wiped her mouth. ‘This is killing you, isn’t it? Come on, let’s go and see him and get to the bottom of all this.’ She enveloped Mary in her grandmotherly bosom. ‘Poor thing. Your dad was many things, but not a monster.’

And for this week’s prompt

Embracing the individual


The girl laid flowers on the mossy grave. ‘What was grandpa like, Dad?’

Her father said, ‘He was a mixture of things, love. Kind, caring…’

‘At school they say he was gay.’

‘Yes. He was. After he divorced grandma he realised…’

‘And they say he had a weird religion.’

Her father forced a small smile. ‘A Buddhist. Not many in Liverpool.’

‘And he lived with a black man.’

Her father knelt down. ‘Those things are just dull wrapping paper. You have to rip that off to find the gift inside. Everyone is different but everyone is still a gift.’

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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20 Responses to Getting to the heart of the matter

  1. Amber says:

    As always, just awesome. I am still crossing my finger that Mary finds herself to be written as a novel one day… As for Embracing the Individual, that was absolutely perfect. That last paragraph says it all. “Dull wrapping paper and having to rip it off to get to the gift inside,” This is so true and you captured the words spot on. I think this might be my new mantra.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. susanzutautas says:

    What a beautiful flash!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sherri says:

    Beautiful both…exuding true compassion and goodness knows, it doesn’t take much to offer some in this cold world of ours. Thanks Geoff for your kind, compassionate heart…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Charli Mills says:

    You are many things, but compassionate stands out strongest no matter how gruff and dogs-don’t-get-to-wear-sweaters you try to be. You’re a softie ready to fight for the helpless. Embracing the Individual is stunning. That last line could be an anthem to human compassion.

    So good that you you offered a summary of Mary’s story. You’ve stayed true t making each 99-word piece stand on it’s own, but all the plot complexities and names, it can be confusing for a first-time reader. I’m still amazed at how this story has developed and evolved over a period of prompts and flashes.

    Good stuff!

    Liked by 3 people

    • TanGental says:

      I so want to just give back and pay forward; everything that has happened in my life has made me appreciate that the more you give the more you get. It’s a cliché that it is better to give than receive but, for me, it is easier to give than to receive. I admire those who are willing to be helped and to help in turn. The latter is easy, not so much the former and as a lawyer that made me so driven. Now I can stand back and accept more and I’m all the better for it. And these prompt and the 1000 voices paly to those feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lucciagray says:

    Your flash is wonderful. Sometimes it’s hard to find the gift each person is, in this case because of prejudice, intolerance, and gossip. Other times we’re just plain blind or don’t try hard enough. Someone said: “If you can’t think of anything positive to say you aren’t thinking hard enough.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Norah says:

    All of the above and more. You have certainly captured compassion in that final paragraph “Embracing the individual”. Just brilliant, Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love the post. Love the flash (both of them). 🙂 Looking forward to your Feb. 20th post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Stories of Compassion « Carrot Ranch Communications

  9. It was ever so kind of you to give us two flashes this week Geoff. We are all hanging on awaiting the denouement. The plot has thickened like the proverbial pea soup.
    Embracing the individual – just perfect. That is a response worth remembering and a message that the world should heed. Lets hope a difference is made on February 20th.

    Liked by 1 person

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