Endurance (160 words)
My eyes return again and again to the photograph prominently displayed across the front page of my father’s newspaper.
He folds down the corner and frowns at me, his whole posture exuding irritation. “Don’t you have something to do?”
“Pa,” I dare whisper. I point to the stadium in the photo. “Pa, can I compete there some day?”
He looks at the picture, then snickers. “Women can’t be in the Olympic games, silly. You all don’t have the endurance for it.” He continues chuckling as he settles back in and resumes reading.
I turn to watch my mother in the kitchen, on her knees, scrubbing the floor. The wash hangs in the background, visible through the rear door. I can smell the iron heating over the scent of potatoes on the stove. I look back at my father, who’s been in that chair for more than an hour.
My mother raises her head and gives me a small, knowing smile.
For this week’s Flash Friday Fiction challenge we had to include envy in our story in some manner. At first glance at the photo, I assumed I’d write about a spectator envying those competing, which then led to thoughts of, “What if the spectator were a woman?” Had women competed in the 1896 games? I had no idea, so I looked it up. The answer is no; women did not compete until 1900, and even then they participated in only a handful of events. It took many years after that to reach a fuller level of inclusion, a battle which still continues today.
When I sat down to write, a completely different story came out than I had planned, one focusing on issues much closer to home, rather than on someone actually at the Games. I’m good with that; the unexpected turn of the story gave it a depth I liked. But what do you think of my story?
I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks so much, Jeanine!
Very nice. I could totally picture this, almost smell the hot iron. Hard to do in so few words.
Thank you, Laura! I agree, this 150 word limit makes it quite challenging – but is teaching me to hone my editing skills, for sure. 🙂