Taken aback

Another week, another prompt from the keyboard of Charli Mills. I’m sure I have said this before but the best thing about Charli’s prompts is not the prompts themselves, even though they are excellent, but the preambles. You cannot help but be drawn in. If you’ve read my posts, seen the links back to Charli and passed them by – and no one blames you, we lead busy lives – please have a look this week, here. There’s something of the Garrison Keillor and Harper Lee about Charli’s writing that is both timeless and fresh.

August 12, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who is called to have the back of another. What circumstances led up to this moment? What are the character motives? Think about the interaction, the setting, the tone. What does it look like to have another’s back?

To have the back of someone is a rather American way of phrasing things and it’s at times like this that I hear my father, he on my left shoulder mumbling something disparaging about ‘typical bloody yankees, all meagh’. But if he decried the expression, he would have understood only too well what was meant. He knew, we all knew that in our family, our bedrock, the ultimate back coverer was mum. Unobtrusive, unassuming, unflustered – so many uns – but come the moment, she would muscle past and do whatever it took ro protect her brood, her blood : we came first, last and always.

My gran did it for my grandfather, not that he necessarily welcomed it – a man of his time he hated a fuss – when the army sought to reduce his pension because they wanted regular check ups, despite being told the damage was permanent, to ascertain he still suffered for his injuries sustained when, in 1917 on his way back from France on leave he crashed a by-plane into the White Cliffs of Dover.

The Textiliste does it instinctively for me and the rest of us. And so it goes. Strong women all.

They say you know a true friend if you can call them at 4am without thinking about the time and they reply without thinking about the time. I’ve been lucky to have friends like that. Still do. And I’d say I’ve been fortunate but in all honesty it’s about reciprocity.

And now, as they emerge into their twenties, I see it in the Vet and the Lawyer. That unquestioning support. I see it between them and their friends: like when one friend had been slipped something in a drink in a  club and they took charge, protecting them against the outside world; or sitting with another who was having a crisis that no words or actions beyond being there could alleviate. I’m proud of my children in many ways but knowing they are the sort to have the backs of those around them, well, yes, that’s special. It makes them more than human; it makes them humane.

So to the prompt. I’ve read back through the previous instalments; funny how one misses things, like I changed the sex of Mary’s baby between a scan and birth! I suppose that’s the sort of thing to be corrected in the edit?! I wonder how Soap Opera writers ensure  continuity? Anyway, here is the latest instalment.

Back to the future

‘Sore?’ Paul massaged Mary’s back.

‘Hmm. I need a better chair.’

‘What you reading?’

‘Rupert’s notes. He’s determined to find my twin.’

‘Really? Better?’


‘What’s he found?’

‘She was definitely Katherine not Sharon. That’s my imaginary friend. Katharine was adopted by a family called Potts.’


‘They moved to Ireland in 1984. He’s going to see what he can find. He wants me to go too.’

‘What about you?’

‘Would you mind? I’d take the baby but you’ll have Penny.’

‘You know I’ll do whatever you need.’

‘Hourly massages?’

‘Course. Covering your back has always been my priority!’

And here’s the link to the old episodes.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. 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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23 Responses to Taken aback

  1. Charli Mills says:

    That’s a good man, Paul, covering Mary’s back. Funny that we missed the sex-change, but Mary didn’t even notice with all she has going in her life! Answers or new twists, likely both, are ahead in Ireland it seems.

    You have a legacy of good men and strong women. It is a warm feeling to see such values in action through the children, though, yikes, scary times when people are slipping things into drink.

    And a higher compliment could not be given — Garrison Keillor and Harper Lee! I’m beaming! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Got Your Back « Carrot Ranch Communications

  3. Love this one. I like Paul more and more… Though I completely missed that you changed the sex of the baby by accident. O_o And I’ve been keeping up with Mary, I think. I’ll check…

    As far as soap operas ensuring continuity? I’m pretty sure they don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sherri says:

    Yikes, I missed the sex change, or did I? Still, Paul is a great guy watching Mary’s back in more ways than one.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sacha Black says:

    This is lovely. You are lucky to have friends like that. And how wonderful are your children, I’m emosh tonight, that almost brought a tear…(I never cry!) I want to be that proud of my son one day… 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Norah says:

    Ha! Love the humour you have put there with Paul and Mary. It demonstrates a special kind of relationship, one based on honesty, openness and trust. I’m looking forward to good things coming out of this exploration.
    Adding the ‘e’ to make ‘human’ into that ever-so important ‘humane’ is great. I’m sure that ’empathy’ is a very special ‘e’ that contributes to making it so. You have commented on the reciprocity of having one’s back. You obviously have the Textilist’s back and your wonderful children learned it from your example (another ‘e’). I think the strength of relationships comes from this trust which means having each other’s backs. Great post, and great flash!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Autism Mom says:

    Checking up on continuity means you have the back of the story.


  8. Pingback: Good things… | TanGental

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