Narrative Nonfiction: Some Beatings are Worth Taking, Brolly Lady, aka Standing in the Gap…

      …  Memories of a “Brolly Lady” …

     There it was again.  I knew that sound.

“Oy, they’re having a fight down there!”

     That was what Mona thought.  I knew better.  That was an old sound, from a lifetime ago.  One I thought I’d finally escaped.   I should have known better.

     I looked out the window, counting five men holding smart phones up toward the screams.  Then my feet moved of their own accord.  It was only from hearing a muffled shout as the door slammed behind me that I knew I’d left the flat.  The rain had just ended, and the pavement was still wet.  My feet pulled me to the source of that sound.  Not the shouting, not the screaming, but the one I remembered so deeply that it still hid under the table with my inner child.  The sound of a head hitting a wall.

     There it was again, but this time, I could see them.  Both of them.  The woman’s head sounded like a watermelon when she slammed against the wall, sliding down those slimy bricks to finish crumpled on the filthy paving stones.  Her eyes were open wide, looking stunned and frightened, as a giant advanced on her from the ten or fifteen feet from where he’d launched her.  My stomach churned as the pain of that impact coursed through my own body, as if I had been the one tossed like a sack of rice into that wall.

     Looking at the giant, I wanted to flee, abandon this woman to her fate.  But my feet had a will of their own, carrying me right into the one spot where I didn’t want to be:  about 5 steps between each of them.

     I realized that I’d carried an old umbrella with me out the door.  At least those Kung Fu lessons had had one result: they kept me from rushing in where angels feared to tread entirely unarmed.  Then again, my next thought was that this flimsy brolly was more like a liability against that big drunk guy.  I took a second of comfort in hoping that as a foreign PhD student, at least the NHS would cover my hospital stay if I didn’t manage to duck fast enough.

“Move!”

     I flinched as the sound wave from the giant’s lips struck me.  It felt just like the impact of furniture breaking against the wall that night.  When the giant stepped closer to me, my feet moved me back the same step, but my body refused to budge.  That brolly, I now realized, was balanced in my left hand behind me, just like a short staff.  My stomach had turned into a solid ball, no longer churning.  As I saw him look at me, the giant’s eyes suddenly grew wider.  If he hits me, it is going to hurt.  But then why did he seem to be afraid of me?

“Move!”

“No.”

     Who said that?  Oh, wait, that was my voice.  So why did the giant look confused?

“Thank you.”

     I risked a glance backward.  That sobbing voice had come from behind me, as the woman I was foolishly blocking wept, her tears mingling with the rain on the wall as she’d stared up at me.

Focusing on the giant as I’d learned to do in so many sparring classes, I drew a deep breath, preparing.  But the giant stood frozen himself, staring at me with some odd drunken mixture of contempt and fear.  Both were clearly written in his face, as well as the frustration of being denied another chance to strike the woman on the ground behind me.  What was he waiting for?

“You prick.”

     He was treating me like a man?  He really must be drunk.   Then I realized that I’d dropped into an automatic fighting stance.  He wasn’t that drunk, then.

“Ok, but you should be ashamed of yourself.”

     As those words tore themselves from my throat, I began to tremble so violently that I thought I’d begin crying like the woman at my back.  The giant looked so confused that I could practically see the gears turning in his drink-addled mind.  Then, a tall woman stepped between us, her back to me, placing a hand flat upon the center of the giant’s chest.   I found myself letting out the breath I’d not known I was holding, and heard movement behind me.

     I turned to see the two young bar girls helping the woman, finally, up off of the pavement, and taking her inside the pub.  As I looked back at the giant, he had backed away, the tall woman’s arm guiding him to the curb.

     I stood straight, now in tears myself from the relief, and from the shock.  I was still four years old, still hiding under the table, while furniture still shattered, as my mother screamed in the other room.  But this time, I had not stayed hidden under the table.

     This time, I had come out to help.

     Lost in these thoughts, I turned down the bar girl’s offer of a drink.  As Mona came over, saying something I couldn’t hear, I wondered where she had been during all of this.  Recalling her nights of coming home drunk, I realized that she had been standing there, 20 feet away, the entire time.  Now I could see her in my mind’s eye, standing off to the side, just watching.  As the five men and two bar girls had stood by and just watched.  

   All standing idly by while…   And all but the young bar girls were bigger than me.  Including my lover, who had let me stand alone.

     Then, I resolved to get her out of my life.  

Because some lovers aren’t worth keeping.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Shira

Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how this anecdote may encourage finding ways to prevent domestic violence, how to deal with or prevent C-PTSD, and how to build inclusive thinking.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

Fellow Thinkers, have you got ideas on learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning, on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind? 

 

*****************

Click here to read, if you like:

B5, Hakan: Muhafiz/The Protector, Sihirli Annem, Lupin, or La Casa de Papel/Money Heist Reviews

Holistic College Algebra & GED/High School Lesson Plans,

Thoughtful Readers, please consider reading about #ProjectDoBetter.

Shira Destinie A. Jones, MPhil, MAT, BSCS

Shira

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137 thoughts on “Narrative Nonfiction: Some Beatings are Worth Taking, Brolly Lady, aka Standing in the Gap…

      1. It is shocking what many “stand idly by” and watch…

        Hopefully, this narrative can form part of the body of work that builds contemplation around how to solve such problems, and prevent this violence in the first place.

        We can definitely “Do Better”

        Shira

        Liked by 9 people

    1. Thank you for sharing this narrative, Ned: I hope that the long term effects of domestic violence on children will draw more contemplative empathy, leading to more problem-solving around these issues.

      Shira

      Liked by 6 people

    2. Thank you, Ned. My earlier reply to this seems not to be showing up, but I hope that this work adds to the body of writings that inspire hope, strength, reflection, and contemplative problem-solving around these issues.

      Shira

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Interesting: I felt almost numb, on the one hand, and terror in some dim part of my mind, on the other hand, at the time. It was almost as if I were on auto-pilot, and this is one of the reasons that I stopped driving. Triggers still used to hit me so hard that I dissociated, and sometimes at moments when I really needed to be fully present, like on the highway, or at work.

      But most people look at me and assume that I am perfectly fine, until someone tosses a ball of paper at the trash can and misses…

      Liked by 5 people

  1. And I’d never thought of it as journalism, thank you! I certainly hope that this work contributes to the overall body of work serving to help change our world for the kinder.

    Very Warmest Regards,
    Shira

    Liked by 5 people

  2. This happened in 2007, and has taken me until now to be able to write about, though I started a narrative sequence months or even a couple of years ago, about the “Brolly Lady” incident, as someone came to call me, in Bath.

    *whew*

    It feels like such a relief to finally have it off of my chest, and into the world. I just hope that it helps someone else not to have to live though such things.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Well, I’m still not sure if it was brave or just plain dumb! 🙂 Like I said, conscious thought had nothing to do with it: my feet did all the thinking.

      I have no idea who that tall woman was. She gave me a look, after I said he should be ashamed of himself (the giant), and it wasn’t the confused look that the idiot giant was giving me. She knew this guy.

      Hmm, if it’s not clear that I was not the tall woman, then I may need to revise this narrative…

      Liked by 5 people

      1. It certainly wasn’t dumb. Just right. And right isn’t always safe. Bravery is not the absence of fear. You feel the fear and do it anyway. You are awesome! You are an inspiration.

        No, you don’t need to revise it, I didn’t think you were the tall woman, but because you didn’t say who she was (she wasn’t one of the bar maids) I wondered whether I’d missed something. But I hadn’t. It was as you wrote it. No change needed.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Many, many thanks, Violet! I really appreciate your thoughts.
          And good to know that my writing was ok, though I still see room for improvement. Your feedback helps me continue to hone my craft, and I appreciate that, too!
          Especially for when I finally finish editing Do Better and publish it into the Public Domain so that I can get back to *my* work, of historical fiction!
          🙂

          Liked by 4 people

            1. Ah, yes, WP must get stacked up at times. I’m nearly never up or on my phone, even, at 4am, except for the rare times when I simply cannot sleep, and am trying to be productive while lying in bed cursing my smoking/vaping neighbors seeping emissions which overwhelm my poor little air filter.

              Liked by 3 people

            2. Oh, yes! Once in a while I do cede to the temptation to look at my comments in bed, but I generally avoid anything that emits light after about 9pm Pacific Time, unless I’m finishing up some editing.

              Liked by 2 people

            3. This reminds me:
              I’ve just recalled telling Suzzan’s Mom about getting celeriac in my veg box, in Bath, and having no idea what to do with it!! I’ll have to find the comment link for you!

              Liked by 2 people

            4. lol!!
              🙂

              Apparently, you do the same thing that you do with all other root veg, chop it up, slather it in oil, and roast it. But how to chop that dense root up was entirely beyond my energies at that time. I even got chewed out by someone: “Your lifestyle requires a very high level of planning! You’re the hardest working PhD student anybody has seen -you are making the rest of us look bad!” -I guess walking up Bathwick Hill like the Asian students was too much for my colleagues with cars. Forget about explaining why I chose to be a Locavore.
              I’ve actually got a photo of myself, somewhere, standing with the Bath CND’s Stop The War coalition: every time the Chronicle came around, they chose me as the photo girl, as I was the youngest person there by far (among other things). So the neighbors actually knew me!

              Liked by 3 people

            5. Exactly.
              When I told friends in Boston & DC that I was getting rid of my car, back in 2003, you’d have thought I’d told them all to do the same, from their reactions. I’d been careful to say that I couldn’t drive safely due to panic attacks and also that it seemed more sustainable to move to the city, where the “T” covers most of the Boston metro area. People did not react well. Even friends in DC who live very near Metro stations still tend to use their cars most of the time, which baffles me.

              Liked by 1 person

            6. Exactly! Or mark papers, read, etc. That’s why I included the idea of ‘Study Cars’ for students, teachers, business people, etc, in the later years of Phase I (Project Do Better).

              🙂

              Liked by 4 people

            7. Thank you!! I was afraid I’d be told (yet again!) that that was a pipe dream! 🙂 It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me, but you’d have to read the rest of the section to see what I mean, I guess.

              Liked by 2 people

            8. Yes, I will come over and read it. I’m sorry I have had trouble understanding your posts because there seems to be so many different things in each post, but is that because you put a paragraph about the Do Better thing at the bottom, and that’s distinct from what the post is about? I can usually follow it at the beginning but then it goes on into talking about GED lesson plans and Babylon 5 and I end up confused. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand how they’re related.
              Could you separate the different sections with a line of asterisks or something, so that I can read about one subject at a time?
              Or maybe I should just read the Do Better thing and it will all make sense 😀

              Liked by 2 people

            9. Ah, no, this makes sense: someone else mentioned that my post ‘sigs’ were confusing, and suggested just leaving the B5 review and GED lesson plans for the Side Bar, except that most of my visitors come through the WP Reader, which does not show those side bars. So, I’ve been wondering how to make it less confusing for other people (I kind of like the way my past, present, future marches forward, but not all of the posts will let me format that way, and I guess it depends on how the device/browser displays, also, to get that visual, or not).

              Ok, I’ll start separating them with asterisks, for a try, and see how that goes.

              Thanks for this suggestion!
              This is why I really hate doing front end stuff: I like dumping the ideas and writing them up, but visual formatting annoys the heeeeckk out of me!!
              🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            10. No, I meant your icon/avatar/gravatar image, here on WP! 🙂
              But yes, I’ve also updated the post .sigs, starting with today’s, or yesterdays, I forget, but I’ve got alot of scheduled posts that may slip through with the old .sig for a while.

              Hope you’re having a good dday/evening?
              Best,
              Shira

              Liked by 2 people

            11. Oh, yes, and of course, it will all make much more sense once you’ve read the Do Better Project book (I think I’ll just call it the Do Better Manifesto, and be done with it!!), since that shows how everything is connected!
              🙂
              Well, I try to show that in my lesson plans and in all of my blog posts, too, but I’m clearly not doing a very good job of it.

              Ok, let me try a better way to separate out those sections in the .sig of each post (too bad we no longer have the habit of including a .sig at the end of each email: I think that habituated people to seeing something individual about people at the end of communications, along with a sign-off, and their name, for heaven’s sake! I miss people signing letters/emails/posts/etc…).

              Shira

              Liked by 1 person

            12. Oh, sorry! The signature at the end of a file or post or message. People used to have a 1 to 3 line .sig that sort of substituted for a real handwritten signature, back in the 1990s, but that habit seems to have fallen away, sadly.
              Shira

              Liked by 2 people

            13. You’re welcome 🙂 Further to what I wrote before about being confused, I was given advice yesterday, by someone who has done a lot of research, that I think will explain why your posts have left me confused about what to do next. They said “We found that readers don’t click on any links at all if there are more than 3 links (paradox of
              choice). I highly recommend focusing the links on the most important step you want a
              reader to take.” xxx

              Liked by 1 person

            14. Ah!! Ok! This goes back to my problem when teaching in the classroom: I love seeing lots of choices, but other folks don’t, I guess. Ok, I’ll have to find a way to narrow down those .sig links.

              Ugh, I hate visual formatting.

              Hmm, ok, the problem is that I’m trying to make all of the various things that my blog is trying to do available from each post, and that apparently just will not work.

              Hmm, ok, let me get chapter 5 edited, and try for ch6, which was my goal for today, and then come back to it. I’ve been trying to update and repost all of my lesson plans so that I can add them to my new Page and then move on to other language show reviews, and I’m overwhelmed with that and Do Better.
              Then there is Ann&Anna, which is what I’d really rather by focusing on (well, ok, even that was just supposed to be a quick and easy advert for Who By Fire, but it became a bit more…)

              Liked by 3 people

            15. Shira, it’s ok, you don’t have to do it all now. As a writer you should write whatever you’re in the mood for writing. Do it when inspiration strikes, don’t let these mundane tasks side-track you from that. Everything you want to share with people is already on your website, and they’ll find it if they know what they’re looking for. Just work on Anna & Anna until you need a break and come back to sorting this stuff out then. You have to follow your inspiration – you can’t schedule it. Go now – write your book!
              Violet xxx

              Liked by 1 person

            16. Ok, new post .sig will focus on categories:

              Nonfiction
              Lesson Plans
              Show Reviews and Historical Story

              oops, that would be 4 links: Ok, I guess I’ll have to leave out the show reviews, and just focus on

              Nonfiction
              Lesson Plans
              and Historical Story

              xxx

              Liked by 2 people

            17. What featured Reflecto Girl article? It’s just the post you’ve already seen on WordPress. I used to hate the block editor too but I really like it now. You can do all sorts of really cool things with it. You just have to learn by trial and error. Like if you want columns, equally spaced, you can insert a columns block and it will let you choose how many columns across. Or a layout grid. Try that, it’s really neat 🙂 But write your story first! 😀

              Liked by 1 person

            18. Ah, ok, so rather than using the raw html for that, it’s in the wysiwyg/block editor.
              Yeah, I’m running through the last pass of my 3rd draft, and with nonfiction I find it much more tedious to edit than with fiction. I actually enjoy editing my fiction work.

              Liked by 2 people

    1. No worries about that, Violet, no need to say it, I understood and appreciated your reply!
      🙂

      This, in very large measure, is the reason I spend so much time and energy on Project Do Better.

      Our world doesn’t have to be this way.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. “There it was again, but this time, I could see them. Both of them. The woman’s head sounded like a watermelon when she slammed against the wall, sliding down those slimy bricks to finish crumpled on the filthy paving stones.”

    That passage is particularly powerful. It sets the tone (well to me) of the entire passage. I know how watermelons sound if one breaks apart from hitting a hard surface (dropped plenty of them as a child). Not a good sound, more so a human head sounding like that. Effective, visually writing.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. No worries, thank you for your excellent commentary: sorry I’m so tired, need to shut down and get to bed!
        Hey, aren’t you guys supposed to be watching Trek!
        Say hello to your daughter for me, if you want to.
        Good night to you both,
        Shira

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, KG: That was exactly what I was going for, and I also hoped that it might hint at my having grown up in the DC area/South. But mostly, it was that sickening sound I remembered. Glad it came across. Sorry to say.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Good to know that this work is useful, I mean I ‘knew’ it already, but you saying it helps.
          Thank you again; ok, back to editing (after next lesson plan post…)
          (and if you guys have Netflx, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Lupin!!)
          ((and if you don’t, I can summarize…))

          Liked by 4 people

            1. Yes, I’ve seen it. I’ll look forward to seeing more of your words there, if you choose to grant me access, more once I’m done starting up Project Do Better.
              Stay safe,
              Shira

              Liked by 4 people

  4. Reporting comment on share of this post:

    “Excellent writing. If I was a judge in a contest, it would be among those considered for a win.
    But beyond that, it is also excellent journalism: exposing what needs to be revealed, powerful, attitude-changing.”

    In True Service to All

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I appreciate that feedback. And I’d never thought of it as journalism, thank you! I certainly hope that this work contributes to the overall body of work serving to help change our world for the kinder.

      Very Warmest Regards,
      Shira

      Liked by 4 people

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