The Shut One

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They’ve learned to speak naught about it.

So well that they almost forgot it was. There. Tabooed.

She had tried justifying to herself later. How there had been much to cope with and such minuscule leeway. How choice never truly was, a choice.

But as well as she could explain the circumstances, she could less and less forgive. Herself for the blind eye that she’d turned. Them for making it so that she’d needed to. For making it so that they could not even talk of it amongst themselves.

The crushing price of secrets. A cost calculated not with arms and legs, but hearts.

It haunted her. Nowadays. Now-a-nights.

The shuffling beyond the darkened window. The locks. The cries. The scraps that weren’t really for the dog.

By the time she’d grown enough to contemplate a rescue, there was naught to save.

Her sister. Feeble. Gone.

 

 

For Cristina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Storied Stories

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They climbed in silence, single file, the occasional foot scraping a bare concrete step.

Lindon pressed his lips. It helped stop the trembling. This was his first ‘trip’ off the ward and he wanted to look around. To look at others for their reactions. But new or not, he’d learned enough to understand that it was better not to. He kept his head low.

A scent hit him. Like Grandma’s house. Last month. Eons ago. He blinked.

The stairs ended. He looked up. His eyes grew.

His heart, too.

A room of books.

Stories. Escape.

He knew he would survive.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt © Ted Strutz

 

 

The Scene Setter

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“And then what happened?”

The soft-spoken woman in ugly tweeds shifted in her chair, and Thomas knew he was in trouble. He almost told. She expected him to. She was nice so he’d do what she wanted.

They all wanted to trick him. Especially those pretending to be nice. So he’d do stuff. Make mistakes. Be punished.

Thomas fiddled with the pencil. He wanted to pull Santa’s head off. Instead, he drew circles. 

He hated circles.

He put toys inside them.

Made the toy-boy lie down. Ran him over. 

“Well,” the woman sighed, “perhaps you’ll be more talkative tomorrow.”

 

 

 

Note: Dedicated to the brave children who find a way to tell, even when they tell without words, even when those around them may not see that they are, indeed, trying. May you find someone who understands.

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo: © Jennifer Pendergast

 

Self Employed

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“This is not what we invested all that tuition money for, Robert.”

His mother’s voice remained soft, even pleasant. One may think she was but mildly annoyed.

Rob knew better.

It was the same voice that had sent his boyhood self to the attic without dinner for the slightest infraction. That left a small child to shiver there through endless winter nights. That told his father to retrieve the paddle and “do what needed to be done to make a man of an ungrateful son.”

“I am sorry, Mother,” Rob bowed politely in her direction. Bowed just enough to let her know that he no longer cared nor feared her. “I had made it clear that your plans did not fit mine.”

“Your father expects a partner,” she stated. Ordered.

“That ship had sailed, Mother,” he replied. “I bought the farm. I’ll be my own man. Chart my own course.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

 

Newfound

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(Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash)

She lay in bed and let the day’s words wash over her.

A soft stream in the mayhem.

“You’re a tenacious child,” her teacher said, eyes smiling. “You’ve tried and tried and made this grade your own. Not everyone would have continued, but you did. I am so proud.”

Tenacious, she mouthed into the dark and tuned off shouts and thuds and cries. So proud, she curled into the glow of newfound understanding.

 

 

For Sammi‘s Weekend Writing Prompt: Tenacious in 73 words

 

Challenges In Adoptions of Traumatized Children

 

 

As promised in the previous post, the video above is a recording of my virtual presentation from June 3, 2020, titled: “Does He Even Know How To Be loved?” Challenges in Adoptions of Traumatized Children.”

The hour-long presentation was requested by and offered through Haruv USA, which provides professional development and training on trauma-related topics, to professionals and interested individuals. The presentation is available on YouTube.

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Please note that comments are public, so if you want to ask questions more confidentially, please use the contact Na’ama Yehuda page.

 

 

השלכות של התעללות והזנחה על שפה ותקשורת של ילדים

The impact of neglect and abuse on language and communication in children – a video presentation (in Hebrew)

אפשר לצפות פה בוידאו המלא של ההרצאה שלי מיוני 2, 2020, בנושא “השלכות של התעללות והזנחה על שפה ותקשורת של ילדים” – ההרצאה היא בעברית (ללא כיתוביות תרגום לאנגלית בשלב זה), וניתנה במסגרת “חרוב מהספה” של מכון חרוב בירושלים

שאלות, הערות, והארות? אפשר להשאיר פה בתגובות לפוסט, אבל חשוב לזכור שתגובות לפוסטים באתר פתוחות לציבור, כך שאם יש שאלה או הערה יותר פרטית, רצוי לפנות דרך דף הקישור

The video above is a recording of my virtual presentation from June 2, 2020, about the “Impact of Neglect and Abuse on Language and Communication in Children.” The hour-long presentation is in Hebrew (no English Subtitles at present). It was requested and offered through Jerusalem’s The Haruv Institute‘s “Haruv From The Couch” initiative, which provides virtual professional development and training on trauma-related topics, to professionals and interested individuals. The presentation is available on YouTube.

For the English speakers among you, I am hoping to post a video of another presentation (on a different but related topic), this time in English, in the coming days. That presentation was requested by Haruv USA and was recorded on June 3rd, 2020. I am waiting for it to be made available. So be on the lookout for another video post!

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Please note that comments are public, so if you want to ask questions more confidentially, please use the contact Na’ama Yehuda page.

 

Night Walker

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Photo: Martin Adams on Unsplash

 

She’d appear out of her bed

As if in dream.

An apparition in their kitchen.

A small figure levitating up the stairs

From the nursery,

A flannel nightgown sweeping over the cold floor

And her bare feet.

They might’ve wondered

Why she had become

A somnambulist,

Had they not needed to keep

Any odd thing

Completely clandestine.

So they latched the front door

High,

And kept the very secret

Of her night-walking

Under the covers

Of unspoken sleep.

 

 

 

For the Weekend Writing Prompt: Somnambulist in 78 words

 

 

The Two Stones

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She shivered in the early winter chill and pulled the woolen cloak around her. The wind whipped her hair – always unruly – into her eyes. Her fingers stung. The day was above freezing, but the cold damp still had a way of swimming through her clothing to steal away her body heat. Her face felt stiff and she rubbed her hand over her cheeks and chin to warm them.

She picked up her pace only to slow down again once she neared the stream. The slope was treacherous and she did not fancy the possibility of a dunking in the bone-chilling water. How different this was, she mused, from the summer days of her childhood, when along with friends she had raced down the slope with the absolute intention of being the first to splash in.

The stream had seemed bigger then. Wilder and yet in some ways tamer.

She did not know at the time the other stories it could hold. The risk it would foreshadow.

She was still an innocent then.

As if in answer to her mood, the wind picked up and buffeted the edges of her cloak around her legs, threatening to unclothe her. She pressed her lips together in determination and shook her head. Not here. Not now. Not ever.

Not again.

The stream was lower than expected for the time of year, but she knew the looks could be deceiving. It wasn’t just depths that could kill you. Or the flow.

She picked her way carefully to the bank. She stood a few yards downstream from the ancient laundering stones that jutted at the widening where the narrow brook burbled into a seemingly placid pool before splashing down in tiny waterfalls at the other end. The women still used the flat rocks when she was a young girl. They’d crouch on the stone to slap the fabric as the stream carried away the suds and dirt and the occasional bloody stain.

Moss now covered the stones and she knew it wasn’t just the change of season that had led to the greening. Women had laundered in all seasons. They’d break through thin ice to brave the numbing cold if they had to.

But no one had used the rocks for a long time now.

Perhaps not once since.

It had been a late summer day, the warm air filled with scents of aging flowers and over-ripe fruit and a whiff of sweat. There was the ‘thwack, thwack’ of scythes from the fields and the hum of bees and the calls of children and the wailing of a baby, cranky for the breast. The laundering stones were draped with wet fabric, the water foaming slightly with the soaps.

Then came the scream.

The rush.

The hush.

The wide-eyed horror.

Two small children, tangled in a vine, floated to bump against the rocks at the end of the pool, the current threatening to carry them over and downstream. Like broken puppets on a string.

They’d been playing and must have banged heads under water, or on a sharp rock, or on some other, less understood, thing. Their thrashing would have been noticed, but they must have been lost to the loud playfulness of others, or to the slap of clothing and the scrape of washers against stone. Or to how quickly they dropped.

She shuddered as the image superimposed itself on the empty coldness.

Everything changed after that. She only came here one other time since. And not with company.

The family of the man who had been a child at the time still wielded power in the town. She wouldn’t have been believed if she had told, that the dreamy boy who liked to twirl in the sun and who no one dared tease, had drawn a slingshot in mid-dance and used his spin to hurl small sharp stones into the children’s temples. The “thwack, thwack” was not only from scythes. She wouldn’t have been believed if she’d blamed him for the death of her pet rabbit, even though she’d seen him kill the trusting ball of fluff. Or for holding her down and poking her where no one should. She kept quiet and let the secret nibble holes in her insides.

It wouldn’t have brought the children back.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, bending to touch the water with her fingertips.

The bodies had long been buried, but their souls could not be. Not without the truth.

She rose and wrapped the cloak tightly around her. The clouds gathered and she saw a crack of lighting in the distance. A low rumble chased it, chastening or soothing, she could not tell.

She forced the air into her lungs and turned away.

She will be leaving again. The secret will remain.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

 

Night Flight

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

It was the island that saved her, in the beginning, in the middle, in the end.

At first it had been the noting of it. The realization that there was a place, not large and yet separate enough as to hold its own. Like herself, if she could manage it.

She wasn’t sure when exactly the understanding settled, only that she’d come to trust that if she ever had to, she could go there. To be safe.

That knowledge had held her in the years of interim. The island was the picture that she’d scanned across her mind each night as she tried to not take notice of what was taking place in her, on her, all around her. She took herself there, in a sense, long before she actually did. She nursed her wounds with the option. It was a salve onto her lacerated soul.

Then came the end.

Or the beginning.

Of other things. Of opportunity. Of a rebuilding of what she could be and didn’t until then form into a tangible possibility.

She made her way there under darkness. She’d had all the facts by then, gathered through secreted research and observation: the distance, the temperature of the water in different seasons, the topography, the places where there had been some shelters, and the times when people weren’t likely to frequent.

It rained the night she fled. A calculated risk she took and refused to worry could backfire. To stay would have been worse. She wouldn’t, anyhow.

The chill sucked her breath but also numbed her agony. She swam. She swam. She slammed laden limbs into the water and took herself onto the island and clenched her teeth against the chatter. The crossing had taken all she had. Almost. Just almost.

For from the flicker of willpower that remained, she lit a shallow fire, and the flame sustained her through the night and into dry clothes and the final ease of trembling. By the next night she slept, and by the third she made her plans for what else she’d need to be doing.

And she laughed.

For the first time in a long time.

Because she was safe.

She was not large, but she was now separate enough to hold her own. And she was strong.

He’d look for her, but he would not risk telling others, and he would not seek her where she was. She knew.

Her father feared the water, and from the moment she’d realized how the island could offer an escape, she’d made sure he believed she feared the water, too.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo challenge