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…’

 

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