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.’
‘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.’
‘Course. Covering your back has always been my priority!’
And here’s the link to the old episodes.