To the Heart of Marriage – by Drew Payne

 

May GLBTQ Flash Fiction Yahoo Group winner

 

Gay Flash Fiction has been running a Yahoo workshop group for many years. That group has now metamorphosed into the GLBTQ Flash Fiction workshop group.  By ‘workshop’ we simply mean that prompts are regularly posted and group members send in stories which are discussed in an easy and relaxed way.

We have included a monthly poll for members to vote for the best flash fic for the month. That one which is selected will be posted onto the website here.

I am happy to post our first flash fiction from this poll. It is from the May poll.

Any who might like to join in the fun at GLBTQ Flash Fiction are most welcome to join us, here is the link.

 

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To the Heart of Marriage – by   Drew Payne

(c) 2013.

“I just can’t stand it anymore,” Sarah announced.

“Can’t stand what?” He asked her, without even thinking about it

“You know perfectly well what.”

“No I don’t,” Nick replied. He now looked up and saw Sarah had a newspaper in her hand. God, what was she going on about now, he thought.

He’d come into the staff room for his lunch hour. The sandwich bar had been packed and he wanted somewhere quietly eat his lunch. There had only been Sarah and Nat in the room when he entered.

Frumpy and plain, Sarah was one of the “Senior Administrators” in the office, and stomped around in her cardigans and pleated skirts as if she ran the whole place. On his first day there she’d given him a bundle of Christian leaflets, all about “repentance”. Since then he’d realised she was the office Christian and would preach her beliefs without any encouragement.

Tall and elegant, Nat was one of the solicitors there. He knew so little about her. She wasn’t snobbish, but he had so little contact with her. She was was elegant in her dark suits, short dark hair and small oblong glasses.

“Haven’t you read any of the emails I’ve been sending out, this is our last chance to save the sanctity of marriage,” Sarah replied, her voice rising with excitement.

He saw the headline of the newspaper she held, it was about that day’s debate in parliament on the Marriage Equality bill. Nick felt his stomach sink.

“Oh,” he managed to say.

“Is that all you can say? Marriage is about to be destroyed by these Godless politicians. I’m at my wits end. I prayed all last night about this,” Sarah angrily snapped.

He’d only been doing this job for three weeks and was trying to keep his head down. He needed this job and didn’t want to jeopardise it. It wasn’t the job he wanted but it was all the Recruitment Agency would find him. He’d wanted a permanent job but instead all he could find was an agency work, employed and paid by the week. It was the economy, he knew, but that didn’t help it.

Five months ago he’d moved in with his boyfriend. He was nineteen and Charlie was twenty-one, they hardly had any cash and he needed this job, he had to keep it. Now he was faced with Sarah, the woman who signed his timesheet each week, and he didn’t know what to say.

“This is destroying the very fabric of marriage and we Christians are sick and tired of being ignored,” Sarah said.

“Bollocks!” Nat’s rich and well toned voice cut through the room.

“Don’t speak to me like that,” Sarah snapped at Nat. “This is a very serious matter. They’re trying to destroy marriage and no one will listen.”

“Bollocks!” Nat repeated, staring at Sarah. “No one is destroying marriage.”

“Don’t be naive. This gay marriage will destroy the very heart of marriage. Marriage is between one man and one woman, for life. They’re trying to redefine marriage and no one is stopping them,” Sarah complained.

“God, you’re talking bollocks!” Nat replied. “Get your facts straight or shut up!”

“This is redefining marriage and no one is speaking out.” Sarah snapped again.

“We’ve been ‘redefining’ marriage since marriage began. I remember when the law changed and rape within marriage became illegal. We had Christians shouting against that,” Nat said.

“That’s different,” Sarah protested. “Here we’re talking about changing marriage to make it unrecognisable.”

“Bollocks! Marriage now is completely different to as it was a millennia ago. We don’t sell women into marriage for a dowry, women can now consent to marriage, women can divorce their husbands. Marriage isn’t even the same now as it was in the Victorian age,” Nat said.

“Gay marriage will destroy marriage altogether. Christians will be sacked and put in jail if they say they don’t support gay marriage. This is an attack on Christianity,” Sarah replied.

“For God’s sake stop lying,” Nat said. “This is marriage equality and well overdue. I’m sick of your constant lies about it. The world won’t end because two men get married and Christians won’t get locked up. There are no laws in this country that would.”

“That’s not true, there’s that Equality Law. My church campaigned against it too but we were ignored,” Sarah said.

“Because of all the homophobic lies that pour out of you. I have spoken to HR about all those emails you keep sending out. If they’re not in breach of our equality policy I want to know why,” Nat replied.

“I expected this prejudice from the likes of you,” Sarah said to Nat, as she stood up, then turned she on Nick. “I expected you to stand up for me, after all I have done for you. Well, don’t expect to be booked for next week,” she said and then stormed out of the room.

Nick felt his stomach sink again. He’d kept his head down, hardly said anything and that had still lost him this job. He’d have to go back to the Recruitment Agency and beg them for another job. Great, he thought, he couldn’t win.

“Don’t worry about what she said,” Nat’s voice cut through his thoughts.

He looked over at her and in reply she said:

“Sarah marches around here like she runs the place but she doesn’t. She doesn’t have the authority to book or dismiss agency staff. All she does is organise the signing of your timesheets. You’re a good worker and there’s a job here for you as long as you want it. Screw what Sarah says, I’m feed-up with her anyway.”

“Thanks,” he said.

“It’s nice to have some gay-boys around the office.”

“Oh,” he felt his face blushing red. Was he that obvious?

Nat laughed before saying:

“I’m an old bisexual, I know a gay man when I see one. Now, when you’ve finished your lunch I’ve got some work for you. It’s about time you stopped doing Sarah’s job for her,” Nat said as she elegantly stood up.

Nick smiled back at her, relief cooling his blushes.

*****

I live in London, England, where I work as a nurse. I have been writing prose and drama since I was a teenager, which I have had published, in various publications, with increasing success, year on year, for the last ten years.

I have had work published in the anthologies, Nurses on the Run, Don’t Judge This Book By It’s Cover, Telling Tales and Courage To Love. My essay, “More Then Just Making Beds and Emptying Bedpans”, was published in the 2010 anthology Nurses on the Run. I have had short stories published in the magazines Chroma, Velvet Mafia, ScotsGay, Creative Week, and Moonlicht Nicht plus the website Gay Flash Fiction. I am also a regular contributor to FS Magazine, a National Men’s Health magazine, Nursing Times and Nursing Standard, Britain’s leading nursing publications, and for the Nursing Standard I have three times been a guest editor. At present I am working on a novel, set in the contemporary London, and a fantasy novel also set in the present day.

Website  |  Blog

*****

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3 Comments to “To the Heart of Marriage – by Drew Payne”

  1. nick was saved by nat. if nat hadn’t been there, his only recourse would have been the Head Supervisor, which, oddly enough, he took Sarah as being, theDepartment of Labor, Gay Rights Groups, and/or the utilization of a new temp agency. paying the rent would have possibly become an impossibility, indeed. this was a fine story about how incarcerated and powerless any employee can be at a job, especially with coworkers abusing them.

  2. Oh yeah, good observation Pete. Even without the gay element Nick would have been powerless, but add something that can be used by a bully to attack him with, and he is even more so. Just shows the basic feudal nature of the workplace.

  3. Thanks for seeing one of, what I thought, the minor elements of the plot. In the past I’ve worked as a temp and I remember how much I had to keep quiet not to upset the permanent staff. I used that here because I didn’t want the central character being part of the argument and I wanted the argument to be between two women.

    There is a postscript to this story. The Marriage Equality bill has past through parliament and will become law next year (though you wouldn’t know this by the silence from our media)

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