Sunday 17 December 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 317

This week's picture prompt was created by French digital artist Cyril Rolando. They call this one We are dancing in chains. They have made some incredible pieces and clearly their works speaks to me because I have used a few on Mid-Week Flash before: Week 283Week 278 and Week85.

Finally got round to writing this piece that's been stuck in my head. It's a dark one. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

A digital image of a man in blue underwear in the throws of arching backwards and up on tiptoes, while he is chained at the wrists and ankles. A pool of ball and chains is in front of him. What appears to be spray of water follows the movement of the chains as he flails backwards. The title of the art is We are dancing in chains, created by Cyril Roland.


There was that sound again and he was gone, triggered back into a time he had worked so hard to put behind him. But suddenly he could see that room again and smell the rancid sweat, not just of the visitor but of his own fear. And he could feel them – the chains, on his ankles and on his wrists, holding him, keeping him there, keeping him submissive, keeping him as their play thing.

He was frozen to the spot. He worked to take a breath and remind himself it was over, it would never happen again. But even after all this time (he’d be celebrating ten years next month) the sound of chains did this to him. It didn’t matter where they were – today was the harbour – or why – they were hauling in an anchor – it didn’t fail to paralyse him, stopping him dead in his tracks.

He felt his mind switch over into automatic pilot. He managed to continue walking back to his car, and get in and drive back to the office. It was like he was watching himself as he made all the correct motions on the way back, while his mind tried to stop him from falling into the pit of darkness that would shut him down mentally for days or even weeks. At the office he made all the correct sounds and expressions for people to believe he was fine, but once alone behind his desk he knew there was one person he had to speak to; the one person who could help him get a handle on this flashback.

“Hey, Giles, it’s not like you to call me during the day, is everything okay?”

She knew, she always knew.

“No, not really. I had to go down to the docks and watch something being loaded, and it happened …”

“What happened?”

“Chains on concrete.”

“Oh shit. Do you want me to come over?”

“I’m still at work.”

“I can meet you after if you like?”

“I just needed to tell someone who understood. I just needed to say it out loud.”

“I understand. Sounds are the hardest part – and smells.”

“Yeah. It’s like I could smell it again, though it was just in my mind.”

“I’ll meet you after work, we’ll have dinner. It will break the cycle of the reaction.”

“Good idea.”

“When’s your next therapy session?”

“Next week.”

“Not too far away then.”

“No. Hopefully I can report on how I processed it.”

“You already are processing it by calling me.”

“True. Thank you Shaunna.”

“I’m just happy you called. I’ll see you outside at six, okay?”

“See you then.”


Giles put the phone down. He felt like he was coming back to himself again. He felt like he could focus on what was in front of him on his desk. He’d managed to switch off the autopilot.

He didn’t know what he would do without the support of another who had been put through the same. Someone who knew the horror of being sold as a child, and used and abused for years. Some days he hated that they had survived to live with the memories, but most days he was just grateful to be free.

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