White Manor

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Here’s my contribution to this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers.

Jessica felt the knot in her stomach tighten as the house came into view between the thick hedges veiling it from the outside world. White Manor. It had been in her family for longer than anyone could remember, growing fat on the memories made within its walls.

She had stayed away for almost 20 years, the last visit being for her Uncle Austin’s funeral. This time she had no choice, as her great- aunt had surprised everyone by naming Jessica as her sole heir. Her relatives thought that she had ingratiated herself to the old woman and taken advantage of her. But Jessica knew that it was the house which had chosen her.

The car crunched to a halt in front of the main doors. Jessica sat while the driver walked around to open her door – prolonging the inevitable for as long as she could. The scent of roses hit her as she stepped out of the cab. She was home.

words: 161

Bad Neighbours

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Here’s my attempt at this weeks Monday’s Finish the Story

Finish the story begins with: “A body suddenly crashed through a plate glass window at the Brigadier’s house.”

“Argghh not again! They said they’d fixed that stupid thing.” The Brigadier wiped egg yolk from his beard as he went to inspect the latest inconvenience.

“Jenkins! Get those inconsiderate Reticulans on the holophone right now. I’ve had enough of this nonsense.”

It was a wortbort this time, mostly eaten of course. They only seemed to throw away the messy parts. This one was missing the half of its body, and was busy leaking all over the Brigadier’s clean white tiles. “And bring a mop”.

Due to an unfortunate set of events involving a quantum physicist and an architect, the Brigadier’s home was built above a wormhole which led to the garbage chute of a family living in the Orion Nebula. He’d shoved a few broomsticks up there, but they just seemed to enjoy eating those too. There was only one thing left to do. Send Jenkins up.

The Heirloom

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Here’s my last minute contribution to Monday’s Finish the Story. Thanks Barbara for the prompt!

Finish the story begins with: “On March 9th, 2015, three objects were reportedly seen in the skies over the Borracho Todos los Tiempos Vineyards.”

March 9 2125 – PJ stared down at his grandmother’s prized possession, carefully cradled in his hand inside its tattered plastic sheath. The faded old photograph showed the arrival of the creatures, over a hundred years ago. He had seen it before, when she brought it out on special occasions to show the family, and as always, it wasn’t the ships which drew his fascination. It was the earth, with its the blue sky, green trees, the red earth – it was so alive back then. He imagined what the breeze would sound like rustling through those trees, what it would be like to taste the fruit which grew on those vines.

The image was his now that his grandmother was dead – to share with his grandchildren one day, to show them how beautiful their home once was.

Word Limit: 135

Three reasons why Facebook and children don’t mix

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As the mother of two young children and the holder of a Facebook account, I am often tempted to update the world on the latest antics of my little munchkins.

What stops me are the following:

  1. My paranoia that some creepy stranger out there is looking at photos of my babies;
  2. They haven’t consented to having their photos posted on Facebook; and
  3. My concern that my children will grow up thinking that they, like a member of the Jolie-Pitt clan, are special for doing nothing at all, and will develop some kind of narcissistic personality disorder.

My reasoning for this shocking deviation from the norms of modern day parenting is as follows:

  1. Lack of Consent

Cast your mind back to the immense joy and pride you felt each time you brought a boyfriend/ girlfriend home to meet your parents, and the old family albums were dredged out to expose you in your unadulterated, gummy grinned/ saggy nappied/ buck toothed/ monobrowed/pimply glory.

Imagine if those photos were available to your boss, your workmates, a prospective employer, or your arch nemesis back in high school. Now imagine that a random stranger got hold of one of these unflattering photos, turned it into a meme which was viewed by millions, and you are now a laughing stock around the world..

As parents we don’t tend to ask our children if we can photograph them, nor do we ask them before we publish these photos online.

Older children may be in a position to say yes or no, but many of the millions of babies and toddlers whose photos are posted on Facebook everyday can barely talk, let alone grant a considered approval to having their images posted online.

Sure, some kids may look back at the images of themselves posted online one day and thank their parents for this electronic repository of their development, but they didn’t really have much choice in the matter, did they?

As a parent, I just think we owe our kids some degree of respect by protecting their privacy until they are old enough to make their own choices about something which could have a major impact on their lives later down the track..

2.Privacy

Facebook’s security settings allow you to select who can see your ‘stuff’, and this can range from your friends to practically anyone on earth. It’s legal terms provide that you own all content and information that you post, however, how this information is shared depends on your privacy settings. So for example if your privacy is set to allow “everyone” to see your information, then anyone and everyone can see your photos and comments. By not locking down the privacy setting of your account, you’re also granting Facebook a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License)…”

And then there’s the risk of your account being hacked and images being accessed and downloaded without your knowledge or consent. Just a quick online search shows how easy this is, with numerous sites offering you tips on the best way to hack into your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s/son’s/daughter’s/victim’s account.

If the recent experience of female celebrities having their cloud accounts hacked has taught the rest of us one thing, it is that it would be naive to think that your privacy is safe on the Internet.

  1. Everybody loves a narcissistic threenager

I worry that the over zealous photography of our progeny may give them the impression that they are some kind of Aryan uberchild. Afterall, why else would every moment of actual and/or perceived cuteness need to be preserved for the betterment of future generations?

Constant snapping photos of your children could lead them to feel superior to other members of the family. Some experts are also worried that being constantly photographed might make a child become critical about their appearance, or perhaps even attribute an unnecessary level of importance towards their appearance or behavior needing to be ‘cute’ in order to attract more attention to themselves.

The raising of children is such a personal and sensitive process, and I probably won’t know until my kids are old enough to tell me whether these concerns are valid or unnecessary. I just know that the reason that I take photos is to preserve memories of my family as a private process, shared on special occasions with loved ones yes, but not as a daily advertisement of our lives..