Do We Dare…?

runners, running, women's raceWe all heard the piercing ding at the same time.

Which is saying something, since over 20,000 of us – women of all sizes, shapes, colors, ages – were gathered at Boston’s Charles Street to begin the Women for Health 10K run.

Joanne elbowed me as we stood side-by-side waiting for the starting gun to go off. “Do you see what I see?” she asked, staring down at her phone.

I had heard the ding but was trying to avoid my phone, which sat in the back pocket of my black running shorts. Besides, I was mortified by how many people were checking out their cell phones. We humans had become robots for God’s sake: heads-down, uninvolved, funny-looking robots.

“No!” I answered my friend. Like all the other robots, she was checking out her phone.

Just then the gun, which was really a high-pitched one-second siren, went off as the woman announcer shouted from the microphone – “GO!”

But not one runner .  .  .  ran. They were all looking at their phones.

The announcer tried again: “GO!”

Instead, woman after woman lifted their faces up toward the gray cloudy sky. Joanne whispered excitedly in my ear, “The text says ‘Look Out and Look Up.‘”

The announcer tried one more time. “G O …?”  Then,  her voice raised an octave as she shouted through the microphone. “Oh.  My.  God!”

At that point, I looked up also.

Clouds were forming words. Yes, in the bleary drizzly sky, bright rainbow-red clouds gathered together as if by some remarkable, unknown force.

M

 

 

K

 

E

Make? Make what? Everyone stared at each other, then peered up at the sky again.

 A

Make a…? Make a what? I wasn’t the only one with chills crawling up and down my spine.

C

 

H

 

A

 

N

 

G

 

E

Women began to cry. Their significant others left the sidelines to join them. Some shouted “YES!” Other women laughed. Some screamed.

Me? I wondered if we dare follow that advice, and who or what dared us to.

 

D.W. Peach, speculative fiction

Thanks to D.W. Peach for the push to pursue speculative fiction. https://mythsofthemirror.com/2019/01/16/iceman-januarys-writingprompt/

 

 

 

140 thoughts on “Do We Dare…?

    • For the past five years I’ve been participating in this Boston 10K with a good friend. I took the photo on the top of this post. I wanted to shout on the loudspeaker, “pull your heads up!” Thus, this story appeared out of my own “head space,” 🙂

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  1. First of all i say you raised the bar in responding to photo prompts..and i bet Diana would be so proud of this….and secondly, i love at how simple the story line maybe; but you told it in a voice that draws my emotions..stronger and stronger until the last line..your a very good story teller..

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    • Thanks for understanding what I was trying to do here with this story – quite an off reach from Diana’s prompt, but somehow the blue frozen prompt led me to this plea for CHANGE. And so much of the story is absolute reality! :-0

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  2. Nice one, Pam. This story made me grin. Yes, yes, yes. And we don’t need a rainbow-colored message in the sky, do we. I think a lot of women have gotten the message already and the momentum has started. Great story and thanks for the shout-out too! 😀

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  3. You had me at the starting gun, Pam. And you inspired to change my outlook today: Calm down instead of “gun it!”

    I had not heard of speculative fiction until I saw the postscript from D. W. Peach. What a clever adaptation!

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  4. Well, I’m glad that the word “a” was in this message. Otherwise it’d have told you to “make change,” as if you were a daydreaming shopgirl who forgot that she was at the register ringing up a customer. 😊

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    • You have the best sense of humor – one that doesn’t only hear (or read) something one way. Your mind is open to see/hear whatever variations are out there. I think many a daydreaming shopgirl and nurse and teacher and lawyer and banker and wife and mother and (the list goes on) were out there at that race, looking up, and already figuring out how to ‘make (a) change.’ 🙂

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  5. I loved the setting you chose for this timely and so important message. How frightened we can be of changes forced upon us. With “Make a change,” we are in control of the change we make. Which one shall it be? Great post, Pam.

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    • Excellent point, Janet. There was such power at this all-female race. (As there is at the Women Marches throughout the country). Hopefully we don’t need a reminder ‘ding’ on our cell phones, or a collection of clouds, to encourage us to make the change we know we can.

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    • So sweet of your son, but so smart of you to ignore your phone once in a while. I get chastised a bit also when I forget to ‘check in’ with my phone because (gasp) I might miss a text or two. In some ways, I miss those days when people couldn’t reach us 24/7. ;-0

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  6. A clever and creative write-up, Pam. Hehe, everyone looking down at their phones isn’t always a bad thing. Just taking it slow rather than rushing a race. After all, we all get there to the same place at the end. We’re all in this together too 🙂

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    • I participate in this event almost every year, Andrea. The power and joy of all these women running/walking/being together throughout the city for almost eight miles is tremendous. You know what’s really wonderful? Everyone is cheering each other on – and most are strangers. ❤

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  7. I love this post! Especially in these times. And, I totally agree with your “robot” comment. In real life, phones have taken over the world. We actually had a birthday party for my 83-year-old mother-in-law today, which Mark and I organized. The grandkids came, which was nice. But, when two of them stared at their phone for minutes at a time, at the dinner table, I told them how rude I thought this behavior was. Oh well, I’m extended family. I can express my mind without consequences. 🙂 Of course, I have it easy saying this, as I don’t have a phone and therefore can never be called a hypocrite.

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  8. Your question ‘Do we dare?’ reminds me of a Berenstain Bears Book “The Spooky Old Tree”. Do you know it? Of course, the answer is, “Yes, we dare!”
    Great piece of writing, Pam. I enjoyed your story.

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  9. You are the first person I’m telling this to. I have quit my addiction to my phone. Yep. Just recently hubby eliminated wireless in our home and put hardwire ethernet in, and the only way I can use my phone is with DATA on. I was forced to put down my phone. But let me tell you. I have freedom like you would not believe now! Days go by where I don’t even turn my phone on. I check for texts and if there are none, off the phone goes. I’ve seen SO many people with their attention in their phones and NOT present around them it just saddens my heart so! I LOVE this post! Yes make a change, darn it, so we can become HUMAN again!!! YAYAYAYAY!

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    • You are a brave and terrific woman – you DARE be phone-free. W O W. You’ll need to post about the experience sometime. It is amazing how much freedom there is to not always be ‘on call,’ and not be tempted to always look down at the phone screen, instead of looking around at the world around us. Cheers to you!

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      • I do plan on posting about this. It feels wonderful not to have that phone on. I don’t want to spoil the story but this I will say. Something Hubby did forced my hand regarding my phone and thus, had to put it down. And so I did. One of the best decisions I made in a long time!!! 😁

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    • Haha, very funny Marty. But as long as you’re on the treadmill (not out in some glorious nature landscape, or in the company of friends) it’s totally acceptable for you to be on your phone reading my post. 🙂 🙂

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    • I know, Debra, Until the very end, this post is very much true. Think – all these women gathered to run a race, and yet as they wait to begin, they’re looking down at their phones. U G H. Perhaps we all need a ‘wake-up’ call from the clouds…. :-0 xo

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    • Now that’s a GREAT idea, Judith. Wouldn’t that have been funny? The text would say, “anyone reading this must disregard the starter gun.” Those of us not reading the text would have been first in line! I was rather horrified when I looked at the photo on my phone (after the race). I had taken it just because it was so exciting to see so many of us there. But when I saw the photo later of all those faces looking down at their phones, I was amazed (in a sad way).
      But that said, yes, this is the time we all must dare to make a change….

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      • I think that would be easier got my generation than our children, Pam (now just forty) and their children. They look appalled when I ask for no mobiles at the dinner table. What saddens me is seeing mothers taking children to school; texting and talking on the phone instead of to their children. But then I’m old-fashioned, I guess. Grandson thinks it hilarious we didn’t have mobiles until the 1980s.x.

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  10. Do we dare make a change? That’s a tough question, Pam. Fear of the unknown is something every human has deeply ingrained in their subconscious even if they won’t admit. But i loved this piece, especially the part about the robotic humans.

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  11. I love this Pam and the perfect message for the beginning of a new year…and the fact that it was boldly written in Red is a game changer. Wishing you all the best in 2019. xo

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    • I just had a thought. Do you participate in a type of “10K” ski race up there in ski country? My grandsons are in races every weekend up in the Sierra mountains (Squaw Valley – Tahoe). Suddenly I wondered if they have those for adults. In the 10Ks etc that I participate in, the ‘high-end’ runners go first. The rest of us get out about 5 minutes after the ‘gun’ goes off. 🙂

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  12. Pingback: January Photo-prompt Round-up | Myths of the Mirror

  13. That tugged at my heart strings. I am a runner who ran the half marathon in Salt Lake only days after the Boston Marathon bombing. I will never forget our opening ceremony on that day. It was almost like this; very emotional. All of us wanted to run for those who no longer can, and those who were traumatized by the terrorist acts. It was incredible wearing the blue and yellow colors of the Boston Marathon. I truly enjoyed your story.

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  14. Make a change. I love that. I think just being there at all is a great step toward change-making. Weird about the phones, but I shouldn’t be surprised. Life is slipping right by and it’s not on our phone screens! Beautiful tale. 🙂

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