I have taken part in several flash fiction challenges over the years. I love writing, and writing extremely short pieces of fiction really pushes me and helps me to develop more as a writer. Hopefully at some point I can make time to continue this guilty pleasure.
I had wanted to discuss two different issues on this blog at some point in time; however, after going through my old file of stories, I found something that should really be categorized as “flash flash fiction:” The challenge was to write a story in only 100 words. 100. That is probably as long as my “About Me” page on my blog. Ridiculously brief. And that’s why I took the challenge!
What’s interesting is that the 100-word flash fiction piece addresses both of the issues that I wanted to write about. Why not kill two birds with one stone? I originally wanted to discuss each topic in separate posts, but I will attempt to merge them here and try not to bore you with an outrageously long post.
Anyway, here is the flash fiction piece entitled “Bullies and the Bullied:”
We always made Todd close his eyes in the shower after gym class. Once, during our barrage of insults, I threw his clothes in the trash barrel.
Todd spoke softly with a lisp and only hung out with girls. As far as I knew, he never got beat up; no guy wanted to touch him.
After that school year, we never saw him again.
My son’s junior high photo smiles at me from the mantle. “Of course I still love and accept you, Michael,” I say to it, wiping my eyes.
When you get home from school, I’ll tell you that, buddy.
(I wonder how many of you counted those words…? I might have been off by a few.)
The inspiration for the second half of the “story” came from a conversation that I had with my wife shortly after our oldest son (now seven-years-old) was born. I have read about quite a few parents over the years who had to come to terms with the fact that their son or daughter was gay. When I lived in Japan, I had a Canadian friend who was disowned and told to “go to hell” by his parents after coming out to them.
Of course my wife and I didn’t have to think about our response at all; we would love and accept both sons because they mean more to us than life itself. I would never have the heart to cut off all contact with my two little buddies.
Now, that doesn’t mean we would support the lifestyle. I’m sure you noticed that this blog is written by a Catholic, and I accept and believe what the Catholic Church teaches on homosexuality. But nowhere does it say that anyone should be looked upon as sub-human.
I am really ashamed to admit that the first part of my story really happened. I was young and foolish. Too concerned with trying to fit in, I joined in on the taunting and verbal abuse of my fellow seventh-grader. How I wish I could go back and shake my younger self by the shoulders and scream, “Look at yourself! Think about what you’re doing to this poor kid!”
But I can’t go back. All I can do now is hope and pray that “Todd” is safe and not going through the harassment like he did every day after gym class so many years ago.
Maybe I joined the crowd because the focus of my peers was temporarily off of my awkward, uncoordinated self. Or maybe because I had to take my frustrations out on someone more vulnerable than I; anger and hurt from my father’s continued physical and verbal abuse during my entire childhood would build up from time to time.
There is never a legitimate reason to bully or hate someone. In fifth grade, our family moved to a new city, and that meant a brand new school for my sister and me. By that age, every kid in my new class already had their social groups fixed, and they made it clear that I wasn’t allowed in. Needless to say, I was bullied and even had mud thrown at me. It wasn’t until later in junior high that I finally made a few friends: other outcasts who knew that strength in numbers would be the only way to survive the dark, scary corridors of high school.
Going back to the topic of homosexuality, the Bible and the Catholic Church have never taught that it is a sin. Rather, they teach that homosexual activity is a sin because it goes against the laws of God.
God gave each and every one of us dignity when He created us. As a result, every person on the planet deserves our love and respect.