Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Three Word Wednesday - Bait, Jump, Victim


Mahmood practiced writing his new name.
Moody.  Moody.  Moody.
When the entire page was filled, he set the pen down, sat back and looked at his handy work.
He absently stroked his smooth naked chin.  After shaving, he had marveled at how pale that skin was.  He’d forgotten that he had a cleft in his chin.
“You’re acting like a victim.”  Fatima’s voice made him jump.  How long had she been standing there watching him?
“What I’m trying to do,” he stated slowly, giving maximum effort to affecting his new accent, “is erase every sign that I am different.  If I am like them, they will have no cause to hate me.  I look too foreign.  And listen to my accent.  Half the time they don’t understand anything that I am saying.  It’s no wonder they blame me.”
“But you weren’t even there.”
Moody turned the paper over and started writing again.  This time, Michael, Michael, Michael.  After a couple of lines he turned smiling at his sister.  “You know,”  his pronunciation was improving, he could tell, “I think that Michael is an even better name than Moody.  More recognizable.  More American.”
Fatima shook her head.  “You’re just baiting them.  You know that, right?  They’ll never leave you alone now.”
He watched her mouth when she spoke, correlating each movement with the sounds produced.  She was ten years his junior and had been here since she was six.  She had no accent at all.  Her voice was very American.
“How so?”
“No one respects a sell out.”
“What is a sell out?
She rolled her eyes and placed a hand on one narrow hip.  He decided that when he got his next paycheck, he would take her to buy a nice pair of jeans and somehow convince her to stop wearing the damned scarf.
“A sell out is a person who doesn’t respect himself enough to stand up for what he is, or what he believes in.”
He considered this for a moment.  “Ah, but one can change himself and his beliefs.”


  1. This has a certain heft to it, considering today's climate of hate.

  2. Thanks for reading Thom.
    Yes, I know. When i started writing this, I didn't consider that it would become this. Thanks so much for the prompts. I started with the words and like a little dust devil, the story swirled and took shape around it.

  3. woah! i dont know why but this had a strange effect on me... great piece..

  4. Great post. I look forward to read more from you.

    like an automata

  5. a very interesting end to this tale.. one can change one's beliefs.. but does that change affect who one is?

  6. Thanks all for reading.
    Leo, good question.
    I think that if indeed one does change his beliefs, certainly who he is internally does change. That said, can one really change his or her beliefs? For me, it is never that easy. A change in beliefs comes not from pressure whether societal, familial or otherwise. It comes from trial and error, from cause and effect, from earnest introspection. Mahmood, I think is a reactionary. He has been changed by his experiences. But his beliefs? I'm not so sure. We'll see maybe.

  7. I wonder though, what would Mahmood do should he get a job in say Saudi Arabia.. would he revert back from Michael to Mahmood and grow back the beard and force his sister/wife to wear a scarf? Could an idea be called Belief if it changes out of fear?

    Thought provoking story.. Nicely penned
    Came in here via 3WW

  8. Thanks for reading Mysoul.

    You are absolutely correct. And I think this was my point. He is so focused on the temporary manifestations of his "change" that he has forgotten that real Belief goes much deeper. This is a man who sets himself up for a mental breakdown. At the very least serious unhappiness with what he becomes in the end.

  9. I live in Dearborn, MI. We have the largest Arabic population in the US.

    All I can say is this fascinated me and disturbed me greatly, both.

  10. Nicely done,created much to think about with so few words..

  11. Excellent, thought provoking piece. Well done.

  12. Everyone goes through a stage where they question their identity and sometimes try on new ones, so this rang very true for me. One has to be careful, though, that superficial changes aren't contrary to one's core beliefs. It's hard to escape a role once you've started living it.

  13. You are right Ann. While I personally don't know anyone like Micheal, I have heard of several. It is a dangerous thing, though, because for someone like him, it is tantamount to lying to himself. What could be worse?

  14. Excellent piece of flash fiction.

  15. Great tale, and excellent characterization.

  16. The "sell out" factor is in the eye of the beholder, it seems.

    Nicely written, a fresh, different, and most pertinent topic.

  17. Now there is a trap quite difficult to get out of.

  18. What fascinating characters.

    As we grow to adulthood we are constantly putting on new identities; and I think mostly reverting to the comfortable realities of how we were raised once they don't work out. Not all change is bad though.

    But Moody's new identify seems to fit a specific need, and I can see the disappointment ahead - even without K's clarifying comment.

    Still, I really liked the topic, and the conversation. The dialogue revealed the characters motives, the actions reinforced it.

    Well done K.