This is a response to a Flash Fiction prompt from ‘Putting My Feet In the Dirt’, Writing Prompts hosted by ‘M’. Which can be found by following the link below..
Prompt ~TIMID TOM
by John Yeo
Tom had a story that he wanted to share with the world. His eyes were forever searching the literary terrain, looking for inspiration within the turmoil of his mind. The story began to be formed, moulded and was soon coming together. He fought hard against his own personal harsh critical resistance. Always pushing onwards with a sharp insistence expressing his feelings in an explosion of words. He was always searching for perfection, fighting against a passive resistance. Always honing, rewriting, editing and subtly improving, it seemed publication would be forever postponed. One day he overcame this unexplainable timidity by typing his manuscript online and pressing the send button.
Timid Tom is now well known as his words were read and appreciated by the online community. The moral of this story is if you keep something to yourself it will never reach anyone.
Happy Endings Tell us about something you’ve tried to quit. Did you go cold turkey, or for gradual change? Did it stick?
by John Yeo
I think this post is a delve into how people have handled their New Year resolutions in the past. For me the most memorable resolution was made some forty years ago when I suddenly decided to give up smoking. I was brought up during an era when almost everyone around you, smoked, even your parents. There was a culture of smoking and smoke-related adverts everywhere you looked. Advertising hoardings, the television and newspapers were full of adverts for different brands of cigarettes and almost everyone you came into contact with, smoked.
I smoked behind the cycle shed with my friends, in other words I was subjected to peer pressure in my early days to go along with the crowd. I didn’t smoke much in those days, just the occasional drag or a small packet of five cigarettes when I could afford it. Cigarettes were considerably cheaper then and pocket money seemed to stretch further.
I continued to smoke for many years,
I was subjected to even more temptation to smoke, when I took up employment as the manager of a newsagents shop that also sold cigarettes. The cigarette company representatives would aggressively push certain brands of cigarettes, and I would receive many free samples of the current brand that they were marketing. The upshot was that I was smoking about 40 cigarettes a day, and I would agree that I was hooked on smoking. I did not have to go without cigarettes at any time as they were always available, I was able to walk downstairs at any time and purchase a packet of cigarettes. I did not even have to go out in the rain to the local shops to purchase cigarettes at that time, they were always available.
Then one memorable day, I decided to kick the habit. I am sure this decision was the result of a continuing advertising campaign that drew attention to the hidden dangers of smoking. My quitting smoking was certainly not an instant switching off and stopping, it was a gradual process that involved many failures, then stopping once again, after finishing that very last cigarette. First I switched to a low tar brand and I smoked on for a while, until one day I realised that the only way to stop smoking, was to stop smoking.
I then had the bright idea to chew sugar-free gum every time I felt like a cigarette. I was continually chewing gum, as I worked my way through the interminable craving for a cigarette. Sometimes I would accidentally chew the inside of my cheeks, actually drawing blood. Slowly but surely the craving for cigarettes disappeared and I continued chewing the gum for a while. I then stopped this rebound habit and I have never smoked again in the last forty years.
My reactions to the stopping of cigarettes were incredible, I found I could savour the taste of food, as my taste-buds began to come back to life again. My breathing became a lot easier as I was no longer continually choking up cigarette smoke, and I have saved a lot of money that would just have gone up in smoke over the years.
Stopping smoking forty years ago was a very good call for me.
Forty years after, I see the many restrictions on buying cigarettes and tobacco, brought in by the government having some effect on the young. Advertising is banned by law, cigarettes are no longer allowed to be displayed on the retailers shelves. Above all, the most impact has been made by increasing the price of cigarettes and tobacco way out of the affordable price range of most young people.
The travellers were weary on the trail through a parched, dry, arid, waterless wasteland. The sand stretched out for miles in every direction. Then the wind whipped up sandstorms that penetrated every orifice in their outer clothing into the very pores of the skin beneath. Fresh water is the most valuable substance here and every drop is conserved and squeezed out to the best effect, to enable the survival of the travellers. Sadly the pack animals are the first to suffer and drop, refusing to go on, simply giving up the struggle to continue. Our only course of action is to grant them a merciful release from the torture of death by a slow painful thirst that eventually turns everything to dust. The jeep and the all terrain vehicles struggle to keep a grip on the sandy desert floor as the exploration search party continues on their perilous quest.
“The tree of life is our goal, we will know it when the rain time arrives!” Blind old Pete said offhandedly. Blind old Pete was actually a twenty-four year old medical scientist who was colour blind. “When the what? arrives!” Marg exclaimed derisively. “I don’t think this place has ever been rained on ever.” They both laughed, almost conspiratorially, they had been very good friends for years. Donald Prestwick, a leading medicinal botanist, laughed loudly at this exchange. “We are searching for a particular tree that survives for long periods without water. We need to harvest some of the dark grey bark, which is reputed to have unique anti-ageing properties that could be the key to longevity in humanity allowing some people to triple their lifespans.” Blind old Pete grinned at Marg and pointed to yet another vicious-looking whirlwind on the horizon. “We’d better take cover! ” He shouted. After the storm had abated and passed on, the travellers had to dig the vehicles out before continuing their journey. Suddenly there were dead-looking trees all around the vehicles. Marg had never seen such a bleak prospect in all her days. “Surely these trees are dead, not the wonder-bark that is going to make us all very wealthy!” She exclaimed The Don, as Donald Prestwick had affectionately been re-named, behind his back, almost jumped for joy. “Yes! Please take as many samples as possible, we need a good supply to work with when we get back to the lab.”
Then the arduous return journey was soon underway, many times there were holdups due to vehicle problems and eventually our versatile trusty mechanic Willie, almost gave up as the jeep died, but miraculously was nursed back to life again. We almost missed our main watering oasis on the way back due to a faulty compass reading. However after some more sparkling adventures in the desert, our only thought was to get back home. Some weeks later we were all back in our super sterile lab, measuring and testing the precious samples. Marg thought inwardly, “It will be many more years before any of the expected wealth arrives! The memories are preserved and my long, probably tripled, average life expectancy will be enhanced by the addition of the royalties to come.
Copyright (c) Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.