WRITESPIRATION #99 52 WEEKS IN 52 WORDS WEEK3 #FlashFiction Lost Things

This post was written in response to Sacha Black’s third weekly prompt for 2017 (52 weeks in 52 words).

52-words

Sacha will post one prompt a week for 52 weeks, and the challenge is to write a story in just 52  words exactly. Sounds like a fabulous idea. The value of conciseness for a writer is invaluable, as Sacha herself reminds us: ‘The art of being concise is nothing if not a muscle flexing ‘write’ bicep curling device’.

This week’s prompt is to write about Lost Things. I’m afraid I’ve come up with some sad words this time.

****

Lost Things

‘My keys?’ Beth asked searching frantically.

‘Tried the first drawer, darling?’ James replied with a smile.

‘Of course!’  She kissed him. ‘Why do you always know where everything is?’

‘Magic.’ James lied, wrapping his arms around her.

He held her tightly.

How would they cope when James became yet another nameless face?

****

Alzheimer’s, in any of its many forms, is a cruel disease.

I’ve witnessed its devastating effects in close relatives.

Lost is a word which would identify the feeling.

Patients feel they are living in another world, with other people, unlike anyone they ever knew.

I suppose it’s like taking a step forward and not recognising where you’re going or what you’re seeing, and when you look back there’s nothing there, except a void.

Finally, one day, you look in the mirror, and the only person you were still sure about becomes another stranger, staring back at you.

Devastating for the patients, carers, friends and relatives.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: Symptoms

This week, at Carrot Ranch’s  weekly flash fiction challenge, Charli Mills asked us to write a story to reveal a character’s symptoms in 99 words exactly, no more, no less.

The symptoms of Dementia are devastating.

My flash deals with the symptoms of Alzeimer’s, which is the most common type of dementia, by focusing on the mental alienation many sufferers experience, especially in the final stages.

I watched my father and several aunts go through this alienating and cruel illness. The process was gradual, but eventually everything was misplaced or misunderstood. They seemed to inhabit a new planet full of aliens, including themselves.

*****

Aliens

Someone had locked the door and hidden the key, so he crawled out through the window. His clothes and shoes were no longer where he had left them, so he walked through the streets in his slippers and pyjamas.
When he tried to return, the house was no longer on the same road. They had built a lake in its place. He flew across and landed in a spaceship where some Martians were experimenting on a new species.
He smiled at the alien and asked, ‘The man in that mirror looks familiar. Is he your chief? what’s his name?’ 

*****

Check out some of the other stories.

Writing 101, Day Sixteen and Seventeen: Loss and Fear

Twist one: Reflect on the theme of ‘Lost and found’.

Twist two: Address one of your worst fears. Write this post in a style that’s different from your own.

I’m combining both assignments today, by writing about both loss and fear, partly in my own voice, and partly in another voice.

Elephant Graveyard

The most terrible loss is losing oneself. Looking into a mirror and seeing someone else stare back, someone who we don’t know; someone who has grown distant, and absent, and can’t remember his name, or recognize his own voice.

We first realized there was something wrong when he couldn’t find his way out of a room or into the bathroom. It was as if he couldn’t see the door, or turn around, but he could see, and he could move, only the door was meaningless to him. He had forgotten doors are entrances and exits. His world had become one long, one-way tunnel, in which each step taken disappeared behind him, never to be retrieved.

Then his character and his behavior changed, he started confusing words, and places, and names, and people, until he slowly drifted away from everything he had known, including himself…

My father died as a result of frontotemporal dementia, and so did two of my aunts. It could be one of the cards I’ll be dealt. My frightened fingers tremble as I admit it’s my greatest fear. There’s no cure, at the moment, and it’s painfully invalidating. It could be equally burdening for those who love me, and I wouldn’t like to be a burden. I wouldn’t like to forget my children, or my grandchildren, but worst of all, I wouldn’t like to forget myself.

Today we have been told to speak in another voice. That’s a relief, of sorts, I can’t even bear to think of myself without myself, inside a body that is not mine, living with people I do not know…

My voice today, is the voice of a man who believes he is an elephant, an elephant who has left his herd and is on his way to the legendary graveyard where aged and dying elephants, like him, retreat to die. They say there is a supernatural force which leads them there, but it has never been found, which does not mean it does not exist.

Elephant-African_SS_110613-617x416

‘I knew I’d become an elephant one day. Other animals don’t understand elephants. It’s lonely being an elephant surrounded by these other, strange creatures. They trapped me on my way to the sacred place, but they can’t stop me. I’ll get there in the end.

I’ve taken a special dislike to zebras. They stare at me and prod me with painful instruments, and make squealing noises. I don’t like their stripes or their long manes and bushy tails. I’m stronger than they are, but I’m alone, and although they’re weaker, there are so many of them that they’ve got braver. They’ve tied me to the bed, but I’ll be breaking free soon.

Occasionally lions come into my room and roar at me, but I know that lions wouldn’t dare attack an adult elephant, like me. I can make a long, hollow sound by blowing my trumpet, which frightens them away.

Sometimes monkeys drop by. They sit on a chair and stare most of the time. Sometimes they chatter and screech, not at me, of course, they do that amongst themselves.

I can see my long curved ivory tusks reflected in the window by my bed, they are what makes us special. They will save the earth when we are gone.

My comrades are calling me, and I have to join them in our secret place where the rest of the herd and the other animals will never find us.

My voyage continues tonight. I’ll break away from my chains and fly through the window, towards the desert once more, and rest in the Sacred Place, where all elephants go when they no longer belong…’

 

Have a look at some of the other posts

Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View.

Today’s prompt: For today’s assignment, write a scene at the park. Up for a twist? Write the scene from three different points of view. A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Tom’s Sweater

Who are these two people and why on Earth are they sitting here beside me? Why are they looking at me, rudely, as if they knew me, and why is he whimpering? I’m going to ignore them, that’s what I’ll do. Ignore them so they’ll go away.

It’s not working. They are still there, still staring. At least he’s stopped crying, but now he’s smiling. What does he want? Does he want to sell me something?

‘I’d like to show you something.’ He says awkwardly. I don’t like him.

‘It’s a picture, a photograph of…’ I cut the idiot off, ‘I’m not buying anything, thank you.’ I tell him gruffly, hoping to scare him off.

He smiles back and says that’s all right. What does he mean it’s all right? Perhaps he’s a thief. I grab my handbag firmly and squeeze it tightly under my arm. It’s uncomfortable to knit like this, but I’ll manage. I can’t stop knitting now, the time is running out.

***

I need to say something to break the ice. She’s just sitting there ignoring us, and it’s breaking Tom’s heart.

‘That’s a lovely sweater you’re knitting.’

She nods, and continues busily. Well, at least she hasn’t ignored the comment, so I go on, ‘Who’s it for?’

She knits on, as if she hadn’t heard me.

‘Is it for a little boy?’

She huffs and pulls an impatient face. Silence.

We sit there for a few more minutes. I fix my eyes on my watch, hoping for the time to pass. We need to take her back home for dinner. It’s getting chilly in the park.

***

I hate coming here. I hate the way she looks at me. I hate the things she does, and the things she says. I hate the person she is now. I hate what’s happened to her. Why doesn’t she look at the photos? She might remember if she looked, but she won’t. She doesn’t want to remember! She never loved me, she always preferred Jim, but he’s dead, and now I have to look after her, and she doesn’t even know my name. I’m in tears again. I can’t take more of this. We’ll have to find a home for her.

Suddenly she stops knitting and smiles at me.

‘You know who it’s for, it’s for Tom. He likes red. Do you know my son, Tom?’

***

End of Post. Check out other entries.

This is really part two of Day Four, which was a three part prompt we haven’t done yet. In Day Four, I narrated personal experiences of Alzheimer’s. Today on Day Nine, I’ve dramatized the loss of oneself that this illness represents, and I’ve also aimed to show how difficult it is to understand and cope with, by relatives and carers, who suffer greatly.

Were the three narrators’ voices distinct enough in such a short narrative?

Did you like the way they were separated by *** ? My novel has multiple narrators, too, and that’s how I indicated a change.

Do you have any other suggestions for signposting a change of narrator?

Thanks for dropping by!

 

Writing 101, Day Four: The Serial Killer. Loss.

Today’s prompt is: write about a loss. The twist: make this the first post in a three-post series. Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

I didn’t want to get sentimental today. I’ve tried hard to write about loss in a positive way, but I’ve given up.

Loss is loss. It’s hard and devastating and often irretrievable.

I want to face loss. I need to face loss. The greatest loss that can happen to a person is, literally, losing oneself, not knowing who you are as a result of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other types of neurological conditions.

I first came across dementia when I was a teenager in the 1970s. My mother, my sister, and I, used to travel from London to the north of Spain via Paris by coach, and ferry. We stayed with my mother’s cousins, aunt, and uncle, who had escaped to France from the Spanish Civil War. They lived in the outskirts of Paris, in suburban town houses, much like our house in north London. We always enjoyed our stay there (I’m sorry to say we’ve lost touch now), they were merry and welcoming, and took us to visit the sights like tourists, and cooked us delicious meals, which always ended with lots of different types of cheese and Champaign.

One year, my mother’s Aunt Asunción was different. She kept saying things over and over again. She no longer cooked, or went out. I sensed something was wrong, but she looked healthy. She had put on weight, and seemed to be happy, and smiled most of the time. Until one day she asked me how my father was. My father didn’t live with us, so he never came. In fact, I’m sure she had never even met him. But she insisted in Spanish, which was the language she usually used to speak to me, ‘Where is Antonio, your father? I haven’t seen him this morning in the walk.”

It took me a few minutes o realize she was talking about my grandfather, whom I had never met, because he had died ten years before I was born. Then she called me by my name, which was also my mother’s name. Once more I soon realized she wasn’t talking to me, but to my mother. She thought I was my mother, and she was asking me about her father. I was shocked and distressed, so I rushed to tell my aunt, her daughter, who told me not to worry, ‘Just say yes, and play along.’ She dismissed. I asked her if we shouldn’t tell her about her confusion, and she told me that she was ill, and would never recover her former self. We had lost her, but worse still, she had lost herself.

As far as I can remember, there was no name attached to the condition, at the time. It was dismissed as ‘old age’. Apparently, it had happened to other members of the family who had lived long enough. Years later, in the 1990s, another aunt, on my father’s side, suffered the same ‘strange illness’, which now had a universally acknowledged name: Alzheimer’s, and people started talking about it openly, and investigating to improve the lives of sufferers and their families, but it was early days yet.

This dreadful loss was to cross my path twice more…

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-four/ Check out what others are saying about loss.