Don’t Take Their Stuff

Ernie scanned the room for what seemed like the millionth time. He was struggling to remember…anything. Lucidity came and went and he was looking for clues to fill in the ever growing gaps in his memory. But he didn’t see anything besides little gifts and trinkets that visitors left. His children and younger brother mostly. When they came he recognized them but sometimes got them mixed up with each other. To be honest though, just recognizing them was good enough. There was a picture of his wife…sometimes, like today he recognized her too. He always knew she was someone important to him, but there were times he didn’t know why.

On better days, he could remember the home they shared, he and his wife, for nearly forty years. But as it came into focus he tried to grab it like a drowning man grabbing a raft, but he couldn’t fill in the details and it slipped away. His world had been reduced to a small room with a window that looked out into a courtyard, he could see some trees over the top of the far side of the courtyard but he wished they were closer. When they came in and took him down to the dining room to eat, there was a big window facing the outside and the woods beyond the building. But they never let him sit there and just look.

And so it was back to his room with the TV on the old movie channel. He remembered some of the old movies but mostly it was like he was seeing them all over again. Anyway, these were strangers play acting in a fake world that had nothing to do with him. They passed the time for awhile, but he couldn’t watch too long. He needed to remember…and the TV just got in his way. Once he recalled the day they brought him here, telling him it was for his own good. He asked where his things were, things that were important to him. His daughter hugged him and said “daddy, you don’t need all those things. We picked a few things out for you.” But none of them were of any use to him. They provided weak clues, there had been things with deep, rich memories attached; but they were long gone.

And so he sat there day after day, fighting to remember, looking for clues that weren’t there, listening to people talk about him…”he doesn’t remember much does he?”.

And he felt more and more frustrated. But mostly what he felt was fear; unrelenting fear, fear that he was lost forever.

The Fear Inside

Crap. It had to be mathematics. She leaned over to Rosie and said “damnit, I can’t do this.”

Rosie reached over and patted her arm “you can do this, I mean you did fine on the Trig test.”

She looked around, she didn’t want the proctor to think they were cheating, it was one of a series of entrance tests for the Guild School. Guild was a special school for high potential students and she wanted in badly “That was different” she hissed between her teeth, “that involved symbols and words. This is just RAW numbers.”

“Do you want in the school or not? You’d better not fuck this up and make me go alone. Just grit your teeth and get through it.”

Easy for her to say she thought. But thank God for Rosie, no one else even tried to understand. Even she didn’t understand. Since she’d been in pre-school, seeing a list of numbers on a page terrified her. She had no idea why, she didn’t even know what she was scared of. The numbers just evoked this raw, visceral fear. The closest thing she could think of was of being trapped in a closet while a killer looked for her. Her body would get cold and clammy as she broke out into a sweat, and she had a hard time managing her breathing. It was not the ideal situation for a mild asthmatic.

Usually she could control it if there were no other stressors around, but taking tests, especially high stakes tests like this one were triggers. Her mom had taught her a trick that sometimes worked. Picture your Aunt Leonia bragging about her porcelain dog collection. It was a running family joke, they were cheap trinkets she picked up from 5&10 stores but she acted like they were the crown jewels. They loved Leonia though so they just all put up with it, teased her a little until she told them all to go to hell, and then got down to eating.

She looked down at the paper…almost on autopilot she had finished the first two questions. She got Rosie’s attention and gave her the thumbs up.

Rosie smiled and whispered “Love you like a rock girl.”

© Glenn R Keller 2021, All Rights Reserved

Singing or Crying In The Rain Prompt

You’ve not eaten all day and you’re at the point where the hunger hurts, but there is no desperation…yet. After all, you’ve some options to find a meal, though admittedly they are narrowing as the evening comes on. The damned rain is not helping. The best thing you can say for the rain is that the dampness is taking your mind off the hunger. But soon you may be trading hypothermia for starvation.

Would you really starve? The rational part of your brain is saying “no”. You have water at the public drinking fountains and you know if you got desperate there are…well people that you could go to. And they would feed you, happily. But that would be indeed a high price, one that you are not yet willing to contemplate. That’s the rational part of your brain.

There is a wrestling match going on between your rationality and a rising panic. You are not a street person, you’re not resourceful. What if you couldn’t eat for another 24 hours and then it became 48? Would you go to him then…or to her? After what they’d done. You’d come so far, only to go sliding back.

And then you see it…you had not even thought to look but there it was. Friday night community fish dinner…free to all. You hadn’t gone to church for years aside from a wedding. In fact you don’t even believe in God. Until maybe, just now.