Danny

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

I stood before the shed where they found my friend, Danny.

We used to hang out every day, daydreaming about how we were going to change the world.  He wanted to be a lawyer for the poor and disadvantaged while I dreamed of being a social worker.

Danny was more than a friend to me.  He was the older brother I wish I had.  I am the youngest of three girls.  My sisters didn’t have much time for me.  They were too busy with their friends and social engagements but, I didn’t mind because I had Danny.

He and I were thick as thieves.  We were inseparable.  That’s why his sudden change in behavior was a shock for me.  The sweet, easygoing guy I loved so dearly had become a stranger to me.  He had mood swings, was hyperactive and seemed to have trouble concentrating or staying on topic.  He became withdrawn and spent most of his time in this shed.  I learned later, that he was taking Crystal Meth.  It claimed his life and his dreams.

This morning, I wanted to stop by on my way to the Centre where I run a Crystal Meth Addiction Treatment Program.

199 Words.

This story was inspired by a program I watched last night on CNN about a mothers addicted to Crystal Meth.  The story that really touched me was that of a young man whose mother was taking it.  On the wall of their home hung framed photos of him as a boy and as a promising football player.  All those dreams of a bright future were dashed when he became addicted to Meth and if convicted of selling it, he faces life imprisonment.  What a waste of a young life.

This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details, visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  Serenity Acres

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The Attic #writephoto

remains-3

She was in the attic, lit candles in her hand.  While the others were in the drawing room, she had slipped out and come up here, curiosity stronger than caution and common sense.  Philip had shown her every part of the manor, except the attic.  Why?  Was there something up there that he didn’t want her to see or know about about?  It had been where his older brother, Raymond slept.  Raymond.  She shuddered when she thought about him.  She had never met him but had heard stories about him that made her blood run cold.

Apparently Raymond had brutally murdered his wife, Estelle before he vanished.  Some people believed that he was dead while others believed that he was locked away in an asylum.  She preferred to think of him as dead.  Poor Philip to have had such a brother.  No wonder the subject was so painful for him.

She hated attics.  They were always so cold and dark.  She wished they didn’t exist.  She could find no purpose for them.  This one, though was different.  It was once used as a bedroom and study.  There was a three panel window, flanked by paintings on the walls and in front of it stood a desk and a chair.  On the left was a cot and on the right was a large chest.  She looked at the chest, wondering what was in it.

Curious, she took a step toward it and as she moved, something caught her eye.  She shone the light on it.  It looked like a feature.  She stooped down and picked it up to examine it closely.  It was a feature from a lady’s hat.  Whatever could it be doing here?  Did it belong to Raymond’s wife?  She slipped it into the pocket of her skirt and stood up.  She continued toward the chest when she froze.

She could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and she jumped to her feet.  Someone was in the attic.  She could sense it.  The hand holding the candles began to shake.  Heart thudding, she stood there, terrified to look around from whence came the unmistakable sound of footsteps…

“Constance?”  It was Philip.

Almost weak with relief, she swung around to face him as he strode over to her, holding a lamp.  “Oh, Philip,” she cried.  “It’s you I heard.  I thought someone else was in here with me.”

He studied her.  “You look pale,” he remarked.  “Are you all right?”

She nodded.  “Yes, yes.  I’m quite all right, now that you are here.”

“What were you doing in here?” he asked.

“I’m sorry, Philip.  I was simply curious.”

He reached out and touched her cheek.  “I am to blame.  I should have brought you here when I gave you the tour of the house and then you would not have had to come here alone and be scared out of your wits.  Do you forgive me?”

She smiled.  “There is nothing to forgive, Philip. Beside, I don’t like attics.  I find them to be very unpleasant.”

“So, I have no reason to believe that you will come up here again.”

“You have my word that I shall never set foot in this attic again.”

He smiled.  “Very well then.  Your parents were inquiring after you.  Why don’t you go downstairs and join them?  I shall be there shortly.”

“Very well, Philip.”  She turned and quickly left the room, thankful to be out of there.

As soon as she was gone, Philip closed the door and turned as a tall figure stepped out of the shadows.  Holding up the lamp, he stared into the face that was very much like his own.  “What were you going to do if I hadn’t come in when I did?” he demanded.

“I was going to warn her about you.”

“It is a good thing for both her and you that you didn’t.”

“Raymond, you can’t get away with this.”

A frightening expression came over his brother’s face which made him recoil.  There was a maniacal look in his dark eyes.  “But, I have, my dear Philip.  Everyone thinks I’m you, including your precious Constance and as long as they do, no harm will come to her.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have guests.  Goodnight, Philip.  Sweet dreams.”  He turned and walked out of the room.  This time, he made sure to lock the door after him.

Philip sank to the floor and buried his white face in his shaking hands.  Please, God, don’t let him get away with it any longer.  Expose him for the fiend that he is and save my precious Constance.

Hours later when Constance and her parents got home, she remembered the feather she had found.  She took it out and showed it to them.  Her father, Chief Inspector with Scotland Yard, examined it closely.  “Where did you find it?” he inquired.

“I found it laying on the floor in the attic.  It looks like it belonged to a lady’s hat.”

“It looks very much like Estelle’s hat.  I was with her when she bought it.  She was very pleased with it.”

“You’re right, my Dear.  She was wearing it on the night she was found dead in her husband’s study.”

Constance frowned.  “If she was found dead in the study in the home she shared with her husband, Raymond, how do you account for this feather showing up in the Whitmore’s attic?”

Her father scratched his head.  “That, my Dear, is something we will have to look into.  In the meantime, don’t mention the feather to anyone, not even to Philip.”

“Very well, Father.  Goodnight.”  She kissed him on the cheek.  “Goodnight, Mother.”

“Goodnight, Dear.”  After she left, Mrs. Bennett turned to her husband who was studying the feather, his brow deeply furrowed.  “Don’t be stay up too long, Charles” she advised.  “Even Scotland Yard’s finest needs his rest.”

He absently nodded and she left him, her dress rustling as she moved.  The house was quiet.  Only the sound of the grandfather clock ticking was heard.  He went into his study and closed the door.  He sat down at the desk and turning on the lamp, he stared at the feather.  What was it doing in the Whitmore attic?  Why wasn’t it found on the same premises where the murder took place?

Was it possible that Estelle was murdered at the Whitmore residence and then taken to her home to implicate her husband?  But why?  Who would want to implicate Raymond in his wife’s murder?  It couldn’t have been his brother, Philip.  Philip was in the West Indies at the time of the murder.  And the murder weapon had been found in the pond, wiped clean.  It was the silver letter opener which Raymond had given Estelle as a wedding present.  From the very beginning this case had baffled the Chief Inspector and now here was a clue which could very well turn out to be a red herring or a break in the case.  Only time would tell which one it was.

This is in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday’s photo prompt: Remains.  For more details, click here.

Sought After Again

She was once a famous actress.

Sought by everyone.  Accolades

of awards adorned her lavish

home.  Photos of her with other

A list stars lined the walls.   She

was voted People’s Most Beautiful

and graced the covers of TIME

Magazine as person of the year.

 

And it seemed almost overnight…

the roles became few and far in

between and smaller.  She had

heard of Hollywood’s problem

with women over 40 but she

never imagined it would happen to

her.  She believed that they would

always want someone with her talent

and looks.  Writers and producers no

longer saw her as appealing because

she was pushing fifty.

 

Ageism had become her enemy.

The roles she wanted were going

to younger actresses and there

was nothing she could do about

it, except speak about it every

opportunity she got.  Acting was

in her blood.  She loved it and

the thought of retiring terrified

her.  She found herself settling

for roles she would never have

considered in the past.  But,

desperate times called for

desperate measures.

 

Yet, there was a glimmer of hope.

She saw it when she saw Octavia

Spencer catapult to fame at the age

of 41 in The Help and 50 year old

Melissa Leo win an Oscar.  Perhaps

one day, she would again become a

sought after star.  Perhaps she would

have her Hollywood ending.

 

Source:  Huff Post

 

 

The Flat Tire

Broken dreams.  Broken promises.

Disappointments.  Heartache.

Death.  Violence.  Lost friends.

Struggles.  Racism.  Broken

families.  Dead-end relationships.

Two different worlds.  Two different

people.  One day their worlds collided.

 

A flat tire in the middle of nowhere.

Frantic, she tried to figure out what

to do.  Had never changed a tire in

her life.  She called for her brother

but there was no answer.  Her father

was out of town.  Her uncle’s phone

was busy.  What was she going to do now?

 

Then, a sleek silver grey Cherokee jeep

slowed down and then stopped.  A

very attractive man dressed in a grey

pinstriped suit stepped out.  He walked

over to her and asked what the problem

was.  After she told him, He removed his

jacket, and placed it on the hood of her

car.

 

Grateful, she watched as he got

down beside the car and fixed the tire.

When he stood, up she thanked him

profusely.  He smiled an incredible

smile and assured her that it was no

problem.

 

“What’s your name?” she asked.

 

“Trevor.”

 

“I’m Kelly.  Thanks again Trevor.”

 

“You’re welcome, Kelly.  Have a good

evening.”

 

“Thanks, you too.”  She watched him

as he took up his jacket and stepped

back so that she could get into her

car.  He waited until she drove off

before he walked back to his jeep.

As she sped away, she hoped that she

would see him again.

 

An she did and it was quite unexpected.

She decided that it was time to join a

gym and signed up to go three times a

week.  After work, she drove there and

after she changed, she went to the area

where the exercise equipment.  And that’s

where she saw him.  At first, she just stood

there staring at him as he sat on the bench

lifting a weight.  He was wearing a black

vest and navy blue shorts.  It was him.

 

Heart racing, she went over to him.  It

had been three weeks since they last

saw each other.  She wasn’t sure that he

would remember her.  Well, there was

only one way to find out.  As she

approached him, he glanced up and

a smile tugged at his lips.  “Hello, Kelly,”

he said, getting up from the bench.

 

“Hello, Trevor,” she said, looking up at

him.  He had to be over six feet tall.

“I wasn’t sure that you would remember

me.”

 

“I never forget a beautiful woman,” he

remarked, making her blush.  “I’ve

never seen you here before.”

 

“I just joined.  Have you been a member

here long?”

 

“For about five years.”

 

“What a stroke of luck that I should find

you here.”

 

“Perhaps luck had nothing to do with

it.  I believe in Providence.  So, what

kind of workout are you going to do?

 

“I think I’ll start off with the leg press

over there, then the lat pull down and

finish with the chest press.”

 

“Well, I’ll be over here if you need any

help.”

 

She smiled, said, “Thanks” and walked

away.  As she worked out, she watched

him doing the weights, thinking how

nice and fit he looked.  A couple of times

he looked over at her and smiled.  After

he was done lifting weights, he got up

and went on the machine curl.

 

After they were finished working out, he

invited her to grab a bite to eat with him.

She readily accepted and hurried off to

shower and get changed.  He was waiting

in the reception area for her.  They walked

to a nearby bistro.  It was a pleasant evening.

Over delicious vegetarian dishes, they chatted.

 

Then, he raised his glass and said, “Here’s to

life sometimes taking us where we never

expected to be.”  She raised her glass, realizing

that he was speaking retrospectively and not

just about the present.

 

As she touched her glass to his, she silently thanked

God for the flat tire.  If it weren’t for that little in-

convenience, she wouldn’t have met Trevor.

 

That evening was the beginning of a relationship

which ended in marriage.  Two lives collided one

evening on the side of a rural road.  They were

two people destined to meet and the seemingly

chance meeting happened precisely at the right moment.

 

 

Sources: Greatest; Elite Men’s Guide; Quote Fancy

Women’ s History Month

I learned today that March is Women’s History Month and it is a celebration of women’s contributions to society.  Before Women’s History Month, there was Women’s History Week, the birth child of the school district of Sonoma, California which participated in Women’s History Week, an event designed around the week of March 8 (International Women’s Day).  From 1978 to 1979, the idea to secure a National Women’s History Week lay incubated until February 1980 when it was born, thanks to President Jimmy Carter who issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the law which was passed making March Women’s History Month in the United States.  This year’s theme is “Nevertheless, She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”  What a great theme.  Like warriors facing bitter battles with ferocious armies, women face societies, communities, institutions and governments that would deny them their rights.  Nevertheless, like phoenix rising from the ashes, women all around world are rising up, joining together and fighting for what they believe in.  Their voices are raised in unison, refusing to be silenced, in spite of the draw backs they face.  Silence is not golden.  Using one’s voice to be heard is golden.

Throughout history, women have had dreams, hopes, plans and visions which they had to fight hard to realize.  No amount of discouragement, obstacles, nay-saying, discrimination or opposition could quell those dreams, hopes, plans, visions which had taken shape.  Women clung to their faith that one day they would be able to vote, own businesses, own homes, land, get an education, work in jobs and play in sports that were predominantly male oriented.  They had to have the courage and the faith to step out, speak up and conquer a world that had long denied them and still does in some cultures, equality, recognition for their accomplishments and basic human rights.

However, despite the strides women have made in their fight for human rights, they still face mountains like human trafficking, modern slavery which target young girls, child marriage, FGM, access to safe water, realizing their self worth and potential in societies which favor boys over girls, pay equity, access to safe water and quality education.  Just this month, the organization, Freedom United is calling for action for the following campaigns:

Show solidarity and tell Uzbekistan to drop all charges against Malokhat.

Malokhat is being targeted because of her determination to expose human rights violations and forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry.

JOIN THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM FOR GIRLS

The fight to end modern slavery today in order to help girls like Phoebe, forced into the commercial sex trade at just 15 years old.  Women and girls make up 71% of all modern slavery victims. 

These girls should be in school getting quality education so that they would have a bright future.  Sex should not something that they engage in until they are adults and married.  Sex came from God was never meant to be exploited or forced on anyone.  It was meant to be a physical and emotional expression of a husband’s and wife’s love for each other.

Help End Forced Marriage in Lebanon

Momentum is growing to repeal laws that enable convicted rapists to marry their victims to avoid punishment. As well as the horrors endured by victims, this law means many women and girls where these laws exist are then forced into marriage against their will

Marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman not a man and a child.  And any law which allows a rapist to marry his victim to escape justice, should be done away with.  It is a disgrace to human decency and dignity and it violates the victim’s rights.  Marriage is a holy institution and is meant to be entered into with the consent of both the man and the woman.

Call on Niger’s President to outlaw child marriage.

Three-quarters of girls in Niger are married before they are adults. Child marriage often amounts to slavery, for example, when girls have not given their free and full consent, are subjected to control, exploited and unable to leave, so outlawing it is an important step towards protecting Niger children.

Imagine you have a young daughter and that a Nigerian girl her age is being married off to an older man.  At the age of twenty, Fati Yahaya has been married twice, divorced once, suffered a postpartum hemorrhage after giving birth to her first child.  I didn’t have a child until I was 41 years old!  It’s so hard to fathom a young girl going through two marriages, one divorce and suffering excessive blessing following the birth of her first child.  I don’t know how many children she had afterwards or if she suffered any more hemorrhages.  And I can’t imagine giving my consent to have my daughter marry at the age of consent which is 15 or even younger when she should be in school.  I can’t imagine subjecting her to a life of “abuse and unrealized potential”.

End sexual exploitation of children in Kenya

The last place you should expect to find a child is in a brothel; yet for 17-year-old Phoebe from Kenya, this is her life.

Phoebe comes from a poor family. When she dropped out of school, she went in search of a better life – instead she has been forced to have group sex with tourists for no money.

Reports indicate that more than 50,000 children are involved in different forms of commercial sexual exploitation.  It is most common along the Kenyan Coast where the majority of tourism activities take place – in fact sex offenders travel to Kenya for this very reason: to prey on these vulnerable victims.

It’s sad that Phoebe had to dropped out of school and instead of finding a better life, she found herself plunged into a world of sexual exploitation.  A brothel is no place for anyone, especially children.  Sex offenders who travel to prey on young girls should be prosecuted and the brothels should be put out of business.  Basically, the Kenyan government needs to do something.  They need to protect the vulnerable.

Help end domestic slavery

Women and girls leave their homes every day to find jobs as domestic workers in the cities of your country.

But when they show up for their first day of work, some find out they’ve been deceived. Locked inside the homes of strangers — no contact with their families, and often beaten and sexually abused — they are caught in the nightmare of modern slavery.

What a nightmare it must be for women and children to go to what they believe is a job which will help their families only to be faced with brutality and sexual abuse.  They are cut off from their families and forced into a modern slavery.  People are not property and slavery should not have any place in our society.  There need to be tougher rules for domestic workers and anyone caught exploiting their rights should be imprisoned.  It’s time to get tough on those who exploit others.

Women’s History month is not only a celebration of the difference women have made in their communities but it is also a reminder that we still have a long way to go and that raising awareness is key.  When I shared these stories with my husband, he commented that there is a whole different world out there that we are not aware of.  And he’s right.  If it weren’t for organizations like Freedom United, Equality Now and many others we would have no idea of the realities that many women and girls are facing.

Sources:  Wikipedia; AJC.com; Freedom United

Illusive Love

Broken heart, broken dreams

Tired of casual relationships.

Walking through life, looking

for that love that seemed so

elusive.  It shimmered in the

distance like a mirage but

disappeared as she got

closer.

 

It was the love she

read about in books.  The love

she longed to experience but

it was beyond her grasp.

Every time she thought she

had found it, it turned out

to be an illusion.

 

She imagined the walks

on the beach, the holding

of hands, gazing into his

eyes, the love emanating

from them and warming

her in its glow.  The sun

casting shadows on their

faces as they stood facing

each other, the gentle breeze

caressing them and their

arms wrapped around each

other.

 

She could almost hear his gentle

laughter, the sound of the

waves rushing onto the

sand which was soft and

squishy between her toes.

And she would look at the

sailboats bobbing in the

water as she and her

love ambled along the

water’s edge, hand in

hand.  Then she would

turn to him but he was

gone.  Instead of

holding his hand, she

was holding her sandals.

She was standing there

alone on the beach.  It had

all been a dream.

 

Tired of the dreams.

She wanted the real

thing.  The temptation

to give up on love was

so powerful and many

times she almost gave

in but…she fought it

with all she had.  She

wanted to find that

one true love that she

would spend the rest

of her life with.  It was

out there somewhere.

 

So, instead of searching

for love, she would let it

find her.

 

young woman pensive