Charli Mills prompt this week is about diversity
February 17, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story of a character who is diverse. Who is this person? Does this character know, accept or reject being perceived as different? As writers, consider how we break stereotypes. Tell you own story of “otherness” if you feel compelled. Or, select a story of diversity, such as rainbows revealing gold. How is diversity needed? How is your character needed?
I wonder at what age I understood that people could be ‘diverse’
DIVERSE: showing a great deal of variety
My earliest years were spent in Caterham in leafy Surrey, up on the escarpment of the North Downs as they loom over London. In the 1960s the inhabitants were white, mostly lower and upper middle class, full of men who commuted into London and women who made babies and homes.
We didn’t have diversity back then – a much more modern construct. We had a few of what were called eccentrics and characters. Some, like the road sweeper who talked to himself constantly, probably had some mental health issue that passed the world by back then because they caused no harm.
I grew up not wanting to be different, hating the idea of standing out. I conformed to whatever I perceived to be the median. Unlike the Archaeologist who didn’t give two hoots if others thought him a couple of flint arrowheads short of the complete long barrow.
I recall a (tedious) trip the British Museum to see a display of Aztec artefacts. Because he wanted to go (as did Mum in truth) I was dragged along. I remember a couple of cats that had been buried in some tomb and this crystal skull – that was ace. But for the rest, it passed me by.
Not him. Back home he studied the Encyclopaedia Britannica that we had and became well versed in Aztec lore. More to the point he made a set of Aztec armour from some cardboard sheets. He may well have made a weapon or two.
Normal people – those who avoid the epithet ‘character’ or more correctly ‘complete wacko’ – like me, might prance round the house in our creation.
Not my bro. He donned his cozzie and, despite some limited reservations expressed by dad, set out to walk up the road, presumably displaying his wonders to some friend.
I sat on the back of the sofa – it pressed against the window that showed the road – and waited for his return. I imagined humiliation. A crowd following him, jeering. I felt a building unease on his behalf. I don’t recall how long I waited. I do recall him strolling back and telling Mum that the side attachments needed adjusting.
Certainly not at the time, but later I could recognise his courage. His chutzpah. His tough as boots skin. Not only was he a character, but he showed character. No, at the time, I think I loathed him for being able to do something I couldn’t possibly do. Or maybe because he didn’t make a prat of himself.
Nowadays I can be that show off. I can dye my beard pink for the Bloggers Bash. And in part I think I have to thank the Archaeologist for giving me something to aim for.
So what about the flash? Mary North is hosting a fund raiser for Mental health charities at the cafe where she works.
One family, all different.
‘Last week he flipped.’
Mary sighed. Chrissy had a blind spot with Brian. He had some learning difficulties and could be stroppy.
‘It’s mental health week. Come on, let’s be nice.’
Brian stood, clearly anxious, the door. Chrissy tsked and went over. He pulled out a grubby envelope.
Chrissy read the card and said something. He nodded and she brought him over. Her eyes sparkled. ‘I said he can help me clear the tables.’
Mary nodded, watched them work, before looking at the card.
It was hand drawn and said, ‘Thank you for caring.’
Of you want to follow Mary’s story click here