Strangeways – Friday Fictioneers, March 2016

Copyright Emmy L Gant

Copyright Emmy L Gant

 

The prison has overshadowed these cramped and sooty terraced houses for years.

Sometimes, snug in my bed, I’d be woken by the wail of sirens, and I’d fancy I heard clanging cell doors, the relentless, pounding footsteps of the warders, the frustrated roars of the inmates.

I’d shiver, wondering if that dreadful man, with his strange ways, had finally escaped, and was now darting from doorway to doorway, intent on making his way home.

I hated living so close to the prison, but Mum said we were lucky.

“Some children have to travel miles to visit their fathers,” she said.

“Write what you see,” exhorts the multi-talented Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for Friday Fictioneers.  And in this atmospheric photo by Emmy L Gant,  I saw Strangeways Prison, past which I used to drive twice every day for a dozen or more years on my way into work in Manchester.  Such an oppressive building, with an atmosphere of gloom and foreboding which permeated the surrounding area.  The last execution took place there in August, 1964.

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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

94 Responses to Strangeways – Friday Fictioneers, March 2016

  1. POW! That last line was like a punch to the solar plexus. A beautifully written, very stark, very dark story, Sandra!

    Like

  2. Dear Sandra,

    Vijaya beat me to the punch, so to speak. Amazing story and ever so well written as always.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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  3. Everyone beat me to the punch….what a story, that last line was everything!

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  4. Ohhh…the end. Loved it.

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  5. emmylgant says:

    Very powerful story Sandra. I imagine that prison as foreboding as the Conciergerie, the massive structure on the Seine where prisoners have been kept for centuries and are still held now. Compassion is all over the understated punch line. Bravo.

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  6. Indira says:

    I’ll repeat everyone here. That last line is everything, a punch…Very beautifully written as usual.

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  7. Fabulous last line – made me gasp.

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  8. Very unexpected. Very nice.

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  9. Good story and great twist at the end, Sandra. Well written as always. 🙂 — Suzanne

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  10. The photo prompt also reminded me of Strangeways, which I managed to look round being a nurse in training [1970 ] But your response to the prompt is just brilliant.

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  11. ceayr says:

    Bleakly foreboding and brilliant.
    It has all been said above.
    But let me just add that every week I am astounded – and envious – at how much you portray in 100 words.

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  12. Excellent last line. Punch to the gut, brilliant!

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  13. Not sure mum is very …
    I feel sick for the poor child.

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  14. ansumani says:

    The last line was heartbreaking. Well done!

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  15. Oh wow! What a piece! The last line tears the reader in half and intensifies the terror.

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  16. Joy Pixley says:

    Very sinister feel. I’m not sure whether to feel more sorry for the child, in fear of the dreadful and strange father, or perhaps for the father, who may not be so very horrible but whose own child thinks he is because of this dreadful place where he’s locked up. Either way, very sad.

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  17. athling2001 says:

    Ack! What a twist and how scary.

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  18. storydivamg says:

    That last line tugged at my heart.

    MG

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  19. mickwynn2013 says:

    The last line as everyone has said is brilliant, poignant but at the same time I laughed at the mother’s indomitable will to see the positive for her children.

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  20. draliman says:

    Great last line, what a twist! I feel the mum and child have mixed feelings about the father – nice to be able to visit but not so good if he’s out.

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  21. Fantastic Sandra! And wow what an ending! Loved it 🙂

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  22. gahlearner says:

    The impressions this child has from life in prison, the way she sees her father–and in contrast her mother’s attitude… You open up a life story in 100 words. Needless to say that I too felt the punch, and admire how you put it there.

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  23. The set-up for that last line is pitch-perfect. Well done.

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  24. Jan Brown says:

    That was a powerful twist! I like the way you wove the name of the prison into the piece.

    Thank heaven no more executions….

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  25. plaridel says:

    i’d give it to the wife. what a lucky guy. perhaps he’d come out a changed man.

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  26. Carolyn Page says:

    Hahah, Sandra. Yes, I agree with all before me. A ‘hahah’ escaped my lips when reading the last sentence. Very well structured, and capturing piece… (Yes, pun intended.) 😉

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  27. Through a child’s eyes … the world looks very different. Well done.
    Tracey

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  28. liz young says:

    Poor child – such a dreadful way to live, and her mother clearly doesn’t understand her fears. Great story in so few words.

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  29. Beautifully written and a fantastic last line. I always like the play on ‘strange ways’…

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  30. rgayer55 says:

    Wonder if Mum gets to make conjugal visits? Personally, I think I’d rather live next to a cemetery.

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  31. mjlstories says:

    Great title. And I agree with Claire – beautifully written. A strange little journey in 100 words, from standing in that street to inside a child’s troubled mind.

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  32. raesquiggles says:

    Wasn’t expecting that last line – so much told in a few words.

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  33. wmqcolby says:

    Ooohhh, nice, Sandra! Crisp and clear and incredibly good. Well done!

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  34. Well, I hope dad was only in for a traffic violation and is not the dreadful man. Just trying to make the story nice! Gripping as usual.

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  35. Dee says:

    I was with you every step of the way! We used to drive past Strangeways on the way to my aunt’s house and as a child it always gave me the creeps… Great story, loved it 🙂

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  36. Oh that last line… Some men should not be allowed to be fathers.

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  37. subroto says:

    Wow! You bring to life the images of growing up with a sense of foreboding and unseen dangers, then throw in that sucker punch at the end.

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  38. Amy Reese says:

    Oh, the last line…that really got me! .I was going to say, I live not too far from a prison (in Folsom) but far enough away to not really ever think about it. Some live right on its border, but from I what understand, behind the prison gates, it’s a rather huge complex, like its own city! This was a great one, Sandra. I loved the description of the interior prison, too, its sounds and the fear about living so close. Every now and then, we do have escapees!

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  39. Margaret says:

    Fantastic. The grimness of the scene and the child’s fears are gripping from the start, but the last line underscores it all perfectly. They’ve been visiting the father for years – and she’s still afraid of him!

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  40. This is wonderful Sandra. I love the personification of the prison, how it dominates the landscape and the thoughts of the narrator. The mystery of the “dreadful man” raises many questions, and then the sublie pay off line. Really very good indeed

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  41. Lynda says:

    Sandra, I can’t think of anything to add that hasn’t been said above, but I didn’t want to just click the like button without telling you how much I enjoyed your work this morning. Bravo!

    Like

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