PTSD

By JayTee

Rating: PG-13

Genres: dark family

Keywords: challenge

This story has been read by 1390 people.
This story has been read 2348 times.


WARNING:  Physical abuse of a child, discussed in general terms.

Summary: Malcolm, as a young man, reflects on abuse suffered as a child.

Author's note: Some eerie sections of "Silent Enemy" and "Shuttlepod One" inspired this story.

From Silent Enemy: (writer: Andre Bormanis):

MARY REED [on monitor]: Is he all right?
ARCHER: He's fine.
STUART REED [on monitor]: Is he in some kind of trouble?
ARCHER: No, sir. Malcolm's doing a great job. I'm sure you know it's his birthday in a couple of days.
MARY REED [on monitor]: Yes, yes, it is. September 2nd.
STUART REED [on monitor]: We haven't seen our son on his birthday for quite a few years.
MARY REED [on monitor]: He called from San Francisco to let us know he'd been assigned to Enterprise but we haven't heard from him since.
STUART REED [on monitor]: What are Malcolm's duties on your ship, Captain?
ARCHER: He's my Armoury Officer.
STUART REED [on monitor]: Well, his grandfather would be pleased. He was an ordinance officer himself in the Royal Navy.
ARCHER: It must be in Malcolm's blood.
MARY REED [on monitor]: The Reeds have been navy men for generations.
STUART REED [on monitor]: Until Malcolm decided to join Starfleet. I suppose the ocean wasn't big enough for him.
ARCHER: He's a long way from home in any case, Mister Reed. I'd like to do something for his birthday, make him a special dinner. I was hoping you could tell me what he likes to eat.
MARY REED [on monitor]: Captain, Malcolm's never been comfortable making requests.
ARCHER: I'm not sure I understand.
STUART REED [on monitor]: He always ate whatever was put in front of him.
ARCHER: Are you saying he doesn't have a favorite food?
MARY REED [on monitor]: Not that he's ever told me.

From Shuttlepod One (writers: Brannan Braga and Rick Berman):

(Malcolm is presumably writing a letter to his parents):

MALCOLM REED: Captain Archer claims you told him you weren't even aware that I was serving on Enterprise. I find that difficult to believe . . . . [Y}ou must have spoken to Aunt Sherry during that period, and I know she received my letters. I would hate to go to my death thinking that either of you felt I was trying to avoid . . .

  No offense intended towards any person.


 

 PTSD

 

The man's heart is a shriveled prune. Certainly my father has some excuses  He was never coddled as a child, as he never ceases to remind us. Indeed, at family gatherings Grandma often waxes poetic about the salutary effects of a "good old-fashioned flogging." 

My father's obvious discomfort with these tales was not enough to dissuade him from continuing the tradition.    

"Get the strap!" my father would bellow, at random peaceful moments. Years later, I still cringe at the sight of anything similar.

In the Reed "home" a searing assault on the backside was fair punishment for . . .  well . . . almost anything. Once I had left my socks on the floor. Once I took a bite of my pudding before the whole family had been served. . .  .

Ironically the biggest crimes of childhood went under the radar. Maddie and I were adept at secrecy.  It had seemed more prudent to steal that old holo-viewer, rather than explain why it suddenly listed a "viewed program" not on the history channel.   

If Stuart had been paying more attention, he might have noticed how we stashed his viewer with the cleaning supplies. He might have been amused to learn that his boy's worst vice was a fascination with the stars of Inter-World Westling. He might also have noticed that his strict upbringing had produced a boy who was unfailingly polite, stoic in the face of physical pain, and committed to duty.

He should have been proud, but he was clearly disappointed.  

And it wasn't as if the man was incapable of love. Stuart seemed to love Maddie. With my sister, he'd been merciful. Her few "floggings" ended quickly. My father would wilt at the first howl of pain.  "Let that be a warning!"  he'd shout with mock sternness. The only time she really got it good was the time she vainly tried to intercede on my behalf.

And where was mom on that occasion? Off  wailing in some corner.  

I suppose, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I no longer need his approval. I'm certain that I can serve more productively in space than on Earth's oceans. (No offense to the Navy men.)  

I'm a credit to my family, whether they ever acknowledge it or not.  

It was Aunt Sherry who saved me. Almost no one knew what was happening. Why would a child publicize his "flogging"? The few friends I told seemed startled. "Don't you mean a 'spanking'?" Calvin asked me warily. It all sounded incredible to playmates who'd never experienced anything worse than a few swats on the bottom.  My father seemed so civilized.

One day in the 6th grade, I had to spend a weekday at Aunt Sherry's house. I'd been suspended from school. While in her care, she noticed bruises and started asking questions.  Reluctantly, I spilled the story, torn between hope and shame.  Perhaps I'd found an ally who could help me out of this nightmare?      

I'd wrestled a bully at school. Brought him to the ground with a Vulcan V-Hook and finished him off with Gornzilla Tail Slap. Of course I expected the suspension, but crazily I also expected a wink and a pass from the man who'd often bragged about his schoolyard brawls. Instead, my father reacted by hurting his adolescent son worse than any bully ever would again.

Aunt Sherry told me I needn't be ashamed. At least not of my punishment.  My father was the one who ought to be ashamed.  Floggings in the Royal Navy were illegal, she reminded. Had been for centuries. And didn't a 12-year-old boy have at least as much right to safety as sailors in the Royal Navy?

I stayed with my aunt two days. Following a flurry of hushed phone calls, she pulled me aside: "I've put your father on notice. He's promised to never hurt you again, and if he does, you must tell me."  I nodded solemnly, leaking tears of relief. Then remarkably, my stern aunt hugged me.

My father regarded me gruffly when I returned home. "Sherry thinks I've been a little rough on you, boy. So I've agreed to try it her way. I hope I'm not making a mistake." It was the closest thing to an apology that I would ever get.

Years later, I learned that my father could have been dishonorably discharged if domestic abuse charges had been filed and proven. If that had happened, I would have never seen Malaysia, would have never been a Navy brat, could not have used my Navy preparedness as a stepping stone to Starfleet. Yet I sometimes fantasize about an alternate reality in which my father was forced to face what he'd done.

In Malaysia, the horrors of the past faded like a bad dream. My life improved dramatically for a number of reasons. Primarily because I discovered girls.  The comings and goings of various girlfriends through the house put Mr. Reed on his best behavior, and he seemed impressed with their quality. Once I even heard him remark to my mother, "I never dated anyone that pretty." A moment later he amended:  "Other than you." Both my parents laughed. It seemed as if I'd joined a normal family.

But I don't entirely trust that.

Part of my motivation for joining Starfleet is to be part of something larger than myself. I do want to make my family proud, but failing that, I will strive to make you all proud.

So that's my story. The health instructor suggested this assignment might help with my PTSD.

 

Malcolm Reed, Starfleet Recruit.   

*********************************************************************************************************************

 Malcolm read the paper over several times. He was satisfied. He pushed "DELETE"

 


Comments:

Escriba

Ohhhh... I loved it. Very touching, in a good sense, not in a melodramatic way. Just enough emotion to make us understand Malcolm without making us extremely uncomfortable.

 

There is a quite famous movie here, in Spain, called "El Bola" that talks precisely about child abuse. And it shows you (just once, but it's enough.) I felt the same sensation: frustration. Frustration for not being able to help child Malcolm when he suffered all that.

 

Also, I like how the Aunt intervenes and how she gets to stop Stuart (good touch here, that Malcolm calls his father "Stuart" and not "Dad".) It's a good explanation of why Malcolm isn't irreparablealy damaged, why he still can be a decent Human being. It's painfult to see that his father didn't pay for it. But that's life.

By the way, loved how he deletes the entire paper. Very Malcolm ;)

panyasan

You protrayed a very plausible and realistic family, including the slapping and reserved father, the mother who doesn't interfere and the favorite sister. Loved the aunt. Very well done.

 

Linda

I enjoyed this!  It explains a lot about Malcolm, especially his pushing the delete button at the end.  Just a couple of ideas here that would make it seem more English to me - wouldn't he refer to his mother as "Mum" and his school "grade" as a "form", like "sixth form"?  These are only small criticisms, mostly from my coorespondance with a friend in Suffolk and how she refers to things.  As an American I find the descriptions of English foods that she makes and her church bell ringing team activities simply fascinating.

Elessar

I love this... It's not exactly a story, in its "journal entry" style, it's very much like an "acceptable" form of a completely internal monologue.  We're right there with Malcolm the whole time,  sharing his deepest, darkest secret.  I also think it explains Malcolm's reticent, quiet personality very well... and it is right on the nose to explain his parents' somewhat "uninvolved" image that we got from Silent Enemy.

 

Well done!

JayTee


Also, the only way he can be so open in telling his story is he is about to erase it. I think it is in character that he would meticulously follow the suggestion of a superior in order to solve a problem. But it is on me if I wasn't able to convey the context.

JayTee

My backstory is that he is in general boot camp/classes type training for Starfleet and in that context the instructors talk about PTSD in a general way. Like: Here are some typical health problems that may be experienced by military personell (I know there isn't supposed to be any combat, but . . .). If this occurs don't be afriad to ask for help, your problem will be treated confidentially. So Malcolm takes advantage of the this, to ask, what should he do if he is experiencing some PTSD. The recommended "treatment" here is apparently, that he write it all down. He doesn't necessarily have to show it to anybody. So he can probably deal with this.

I had a real hard time figuring out this story exactly because of the problem you pointed out. By the time we meet Malcolm on Enterprise, he shows "symptoms" of past abuse only in that he is almost too good, overly competent, something of a perfectionist. And he seems surprised when the crew is nice to him in "Silent Enemy." You are correct that he doesn't seem to have any serious ongoing problem. At first I was going have Malcolm reflecting on his past and how he healed as a missing scene during some established episode.  But that's just silly. To many other events have happened in the meantime, both normal and tramatic, for his childhood to be particlarly salient. Suddenly I realized I had to do this thing in the first person and have reflection/healing happen immediatly after his childhood and before official service in Starfleet. 

Alelou

Other than finding it odd when Malcolm calls his dad "Stuart" here, I think it's quite plausible and I can hear Malcolm's sardonic clipped tones telling the story.  

So are you saying Malcolm was diagnosed with PTSD in Starfleet Academy because of the floggings? (BTW, you call it PDS at the end of the story). I find it a little odd that a health 'instructor' would get involved in treatment or diagnosis of a private matter like this, if only because I can't imagine Malcolm voluntarily bringing it up outside of a medical or therapeutic setting ... and even then I imagine he'd resist a bit.  Presumably, he got over it, though?  One hates to think Starfleet would put a man with an active case of PTSD in charge of security on a space mission.

Asso

Strange.

It gives a lot to think about.

bluetiger

Moving story. This is very plausible considering what we know of Malcolm.

Distracted

Why is it that we both see an abused child when we see Malcolm?  There was no trace of it on screen.  I do agree that the converstion with his parents and his odd lack of food preferences were kind of creepy.

JayTee

"Maddie." Got it!

WarpGirl

Now THIS is Malcolm's story. NO WAY did he have a good childhood. Every child has a favorite food. One little nit-pick his sister's name is Maddie.

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