Marnie's graduation of dreams and nightmares flash fiction

Of dreams and nightmares

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” Bonus points for throwing a badge into the tale. Go where the prompt leads.

The prompt led me back to Marnie, a character about whom I have written a number of flash stories, as I try to figure out who she is and what her world is like. We know that she was both neglected and abused at home and bullied at school. One special teacher Miss R has been her confidante and champion over the years, instilling in Marnie an inkling of self-worth and giving her the will to survive. This story takes us to her graduation day.

Of dreams and nightmares

Marnie snuck into the back row. The ceremony was underway. “Follow your dream” and “What is your dream?” were displayed on the large screen above the stage. As each graduating student took the microphone to share their dreams for the future, images of past achievements were projected onto the screen. Marnie should have been there too: but what could she share? Who would listen or even care? Only Miss R. Marnie craned her neck for a farewell glimpse, then left as quietly as she had entered. Once she had escaped her nightmare, perhaps then she could begin to dream.

You can read more of Marnie’s story here.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

45 thoughts on “Of dreams and nightmares

  1. Hugh's Views and News

    My goodness, this follows many of us who’s worse nightmare is walking into a room full of strangers and having to make conversation, Norah. I could so feel how terrified Marine must have been. Then, like her, we probably follow our dreams while alone. You did some great writing, with his piece of flash fiction, in bringing out one of my worst fears.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Hugh. Although I performed in plays at school, I never like speaking up as me – speaking as the character was okay though. It’s taken me years to overcome my dislike of speaking in front of crowds and it still depends on the situation whether I do it or not. I think it’s a common fear.

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      1. Hugh's Views and News

        I agree, Norah, although I have seen people who relish the prospect of being put in front of a crowd. I get very nervous. The fact that people can see the microphone skating in my hand is proof of my nervousness. And, when faced with going into a room of strangers and having to make conversation, I do perspire rather a lot.

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        1. Norah Post author

          I guess there’s one good thing about our nervousness – we know we’re not alone. It’s not long until the Bash. I assume you’ll be meeting lots of new people and possibly making a speech. I’m sure you’ll do very well. Enjoy!

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  2. Jules

    I can identify with Marnie on many levels. My graduations (H.S. and 2 year college) are just memories that lead to disappointment. However with the input of a few good teachers… I did find some courage to continue dreaming. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so sorry to hear that your graduations led to disappointment, Jules, but delighted to know that some good teachers helped you find the courage to continue dreaming. We readers now receive the benefit of your wisdom shared through your writing. Thank you, and thank you to those teachers who encouraged you to continue dreaming.

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  3. Charli Mills

    Marnie shows resilience in action forged in the fires of the growth mindset — not, yet. Her story shows many facets of why education matters (and it’s not for the achievements that take center stage).

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Charli. I think it does show why education is important and her growth mindset is taking her far from the crippling attitude of home. I think things will get better for Marnie when she’s away from that.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Jennie. Your interpretation of Marnie’s story is spot on. I like the analogy of crossing the bridge. It works well. Actually, in one of the other stories, taking place many years later, she does cross a bridge and, when she pauses, she releases the past and embraces her new life.

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          1. Jennie

            I hadn’t found you yet in 2015. Thank you for sending me the story. One of the comments said that she liked how you wrote about Marnie in a non linear way. I do, too. It makes her character more interesting. Wonderful post, Norah. Thank you!

            Liked by 1 person

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            1. Norah Post author

              Thank you, Jennie. That’s so kind of you to pop back and read and leave a comment. I guess I just write snippets according to where Charli’s prompt takes me. There are some inconsistencies, as the character has been developing as I respond to the prompts. I’m looking forward to delving a little deeper to find her “true” story and make it consistent at some time. For now, I’ll just respond as the prompts take me. 🙂

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  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    This is poignant and too true; some students are always excluded and marginalized in school; except you and Ms. R haven’t forgotten Marnie. You know I recently found out a kid I was worried for, after a time of down and out and homelessness, he is now a social worker and working at the state level to bring about change for … kids like him.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Charli Mills

      Through the nightmare, he found his dream and is helping others. That’s the hope we have and we can share it with others. Maybe they don’t get to take the stage today, but they’ll get there one day.

      Liked by 1 person

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    2. Norah Post author

      What a wonderful story of someone who turned his life around. Somewhere in there he saw the hope you had for his future and he found the inner strength to make a better life for himself, and for others. I love stories like that. Some cruise through life with everything handed to them and don’t fully appreciate it. Your young man appreciates what he has so much he wants to share it with others. What an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

        A selfish share. Some years as a teacher are better than others and when a student comes back to you in person or through another with a positive memory or outcome, well, it sure helps. When it is a tough student from a rough year, it helps a lot. Marnie is going to make herself and Ms. R. proud. But you knew that.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Not selfish at all – generous. We all get to feel the good vibes when we hear of the positive ripples sent out. It’s wonderful to hear good news about any student, particularly of those for whom we had concerns. How delightful to know they found the strength and tenacity to pull through. Who can ever tell how many of those little words and ideas you sprinkled nourished the growth of this one? Even one life turned around is a huge success. Thank you, from parents and children everywhere, for the difference you make in lives every day you front up for work and show them what can be. Miss R is the teacher I dream (or dreamed) of being, Marnie the student who defies the odds.

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  5. Steven

    I would also say that this is quite sad. The final sentence offers optimism, but it is drowned out by everything before it. In that way, I find it to be quite powerful and effective.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      It’s sad for what was and what never was. It’s happy for what will be when she escapes. I appreciate that you consider it “quite powerful and effective”. Thank you.

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  6. Annecdotist

    A poignant flash, Norah. If only they’d asked you to help out with the graduation ceremony they might have understood that not everyone feels able to broadcast their achievements.
    It reminds me of my PhD ceremony because it was the exact opposite! A few hundred of us who’d slogged over our research for at least three years had to sit quietly while listening to long speeches about the capitalists who were receiving honorary degrees. Finally we got the chance to walk onto the stage and walk off again with only our names mentioned. Not that I’m bitter (almost four decades on)!

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      Four decades on and I don’t think PhD or graduation ceremonies have changed any. I’ve been to a few over the years and people have crossed the floor, accepted a “fake” certificate (they get the real one later) and walk off – not very inspiring after all their work. Like many, Bec didn’t attend her PhD ceremony. I think they find the whole thing meaningless. I “made up” the graduation ceremony I described. I don’t know if any actually do that. I think most would find it far more interesting than the dry speeches telling how wonderful the institution is.
      I think Marnie only had one thing on her mind that day – to get away.

      Liked by 1 person

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