A Tale of Two

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for April 24. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week is a throwback from before I started playing along and comes to us courtesy of Madison Woods. My story weighs in just over 100 words, but I trust you will all forgive me.

2015 05 08 rerun

Copyright Madison Woods

A Tale of Two


Visiting Aunt Martha in Georgia is an adventure for Nadine. The ten-year-old absorbs every new sight and sound. In town, she sees two drinking fountains. Curious to find out what colored water tastes like, she skips toward that fountain. Aunt Martha yanks her back.


Nadine takes several teens from her church into an inner-city McDonald’s. While ordering, she notices all the people in one line are white while those in the other line are black. Except her daughter. Blond-haired Julia stands in the shorter line behind three dark-skinned adults.

Colored water, it turns out, tastes exactly the same as any other water.

47 thoughts on “A Tale of Two

  1. Dear Marie Gail,

    I clicked ‘like’ but I wish there was a ‘love’ icon. So much said in the two separate sections. All Julia sees is a shorter line. We should follow her example.




    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Rochelle. Julia is based on my sister, who did exactly this when she was in junior high. She has never seen color, and I sat and cried the day that someone else forced her to see it–She was already married to a wonderful black man.

      Marie Gail

  2. micklively says:

    It’s a clever take on the photo prompt: well done.

  3. ansumani says:

    Beautiful story on race. Nicely done.

  4. paulmclem says:

    Wow. Did that sort of thing really happen in Georgia in 1985?

    • storydivamg says:

      Sadly, the situation on which I based the second half of this story happened in the late 1980s in Wichita, KS. I never cease to be amazed at humanity’s propensity for racial discrimination, but at the same time, I am also constantly amazed by the loving, accepting nature of people like Marie Johnson and my sister, Joy, who are the re-life inspirations for me this week.

      Thanks for reading and weighing in, Paul.

      All my best,

  5. A distinctly unique take on the prompt. Love it!

  6. Still we separate on those superficial differences.. before open… today maybe unconsciously which might be even worse.

  7. Brilliant. I grew up in apartheid South Africa so have a feel for what that’s all about. Nadine’s done a good job there.

    • storydivamg says:

      Wow! You lived things I hope never to see firsthand, I’m sure. One of my former coworkers migrated to the US toward the tail end of Apartheid. She has much wisdom and insight to share, and I value her experiences as they shaped her into a wonderful, thoughtful woman. Still, I tear up when I think of the horrors of any regime that builds up a supremacy of one race over any other. Thanks for your kind comments.

  8. I like the way you portrayed this, Marie Gail, since the reader expects it to be totally different, but really not much has changed, at least in the story. At least the segregation is not forced now. It takes people like Julia to change it.

  9. Horus says:

    Amazingly captured Marie ! Loved it !!

  10. draliman says:

    A powerful message which you delivered absolutely beautifully. Very well done!

  11. Great story – one day perhaps nobody will see colour.

  12. Beautifully written. I can’t believe there were separate lines still in the late 1980s. Was that enforced or just something people did?

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you, Claire.

      The separate lines have not been enforced by law since 1968, but it seems “birds of a feather” are still wont to “flock together.” Sad, isn’t it?

  13. Dave says:

    I once lived in a place with the second hardest water in North America. I applaud the metaphor, and the story’s point…while noting that colored water often does taste really, really bad.

    • storydivamg says:

      Oh, yes, you are definitely right on that one, Dave. I have family that used to live in Breathitt County, KY, and the water there was reddish with sulfur. Definitely not tasty–and not particularly effective for washing clothes either.

  14. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Marie Gail, I grew up with “colored” water fountains and you are absolutely right – they taste the same. I’m so glad that has changed over the years – How stupid to be segregated! Great story! Nan

  15. wildbilbo says:

    This was brilliant – coloured water tasting differently… Bravo indeed.

  16. Great piece! Loved the water analogy. Thanks, MG.

  17. rgayer55 says:

    A fine piece of writing, MG. I think we’ve come a long way since 1965, but the wheels turn slowly.

    • storydivamg says:

      A Jesuit friend of mine would use the term “glacial” to describe the speed at which these things seem to change. But progress comes in time.

      Thanks for weighing in.


  18. Sandra says:

    Inspirational take on the prompt. Really well done Marie Gail.

  19. gahlearner says:

    I love this story. If only there were more people who see ‘people’ and not colour, gender, sex… the world could be a more pleasant place to live in.

  20. THe beauty of innocence. I long for a world filled with more of it.

  21. Well written. It is difficult writing a short piece that deals with racism. We recently had that as a prompt at Carrot Ranch 99 word flash fiction. It is such a huge issue that to get it said so well in 100 words is great writing. I really like the coloured water. That says it all. I’m sorry your sister has suffered. She sounds like she is a lovely strong woman.

  22. Margaret says:

    I love the angle you took on your theme. The coloured water is a wonderful motif and the way you’ve structured your story around two moments in Nadine’s life works really well.

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