Waving the Flag

Writers’ Trigger:

Kept and revealed secrets offer many plotting possibilities.

Joyce Carol Oates‘ most recent publication is A Widow’s Story. In it she writes of her 47-year marriage to Raymond Smith who died in 2008. For all Oates knew, their marriage had been a good one.

However, on going through her husband’s belongings, Oates discovered project notes that were based on time he had spent in a sanitarium. In those notes, Oates read of his falling for a fellow resident. A psychiatrist had told him that he was “love-starved.”

What a shock!

Oates wrote, “He hadn’t told me he’d been ‘loved-starved.'” Now, Oates wonders how well she really knew her husband. She regrets how the secret has affected her view of her husband and their marriage.

  • Begin by brainstorming possible secrets.
  • Choosing one secret, decide whether you want to reveal the secret in the beginning and follow-up with accommodation and/or consequences…
  • Or… maybe the secret is exposed at the end.
  • If you have time, try it both ways.


Sometimes I find the American penchant for flag-waving over-the-top. I can live with flags at parades and flags flown by individuals and places of business, but I draw the line at an all-encompassing flag that purportedly represents each and every one of us. Often, it is the size of the flag that makes me cringe.

Please, do not think I’m a flag-burner. I fly the flag on Memorial Day and 4th of July weekend. Mine is an old, two-stars-short, casket flag. I found it at a garage sale. The name of the soldier for whom it was intended, is inked in block letters on the binding. I bought it and fly it to honor the soldier who died in service to his country. I am appalled that anyone would discard their family flag in such a thoughtless manner.

The larger the flag the scarier it is. To me, large flags represent Big-Stick foreign policy and an unquestioning, easily swayed citizenry. Large flags suggest American Exceptionalism – America, right or wrong. America has done many things right, but not everything right. We are exceptional, but we are not exceptional in every arena.  

Westcliffe/Silvercliff (two, small, Colorado towns) have a large number of dedicated veterans. They are proud men and women and do good work on behalf of those who have served and are in service. To that end, they have purchased flags that line Main Street. They are smaller flags, and I can live with them.

But at a meeting to introduce and brainstorm The Bluffs Park Project, it was suggested that a large (used car-lot size) American flag anchor the proposed park at the west terminus of Main Street. 

Should this flag be featured in the final plans, I will have to speak up. Everyone cannot agree on a large flag with its negative connotations. We can agree on the uninterrupted panorama of the lush green valley at the base of the purple mountains’ majesty.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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