Lost

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I need to go home now.

I keep telling them, the girl with the watery-eyes and the other one. I don’t know their names. No one tells you anything here and I don’t know why. It makes a fluttery ball form in my chest when I think about it, so I try not to think about it.

They’ve put me in a room but it’s not the right one, because the sun comes in from the wrong angle. The sun’s always come in from left to right, not right to left. And it’s the wrong shape- I get a wiggly shadow on the floor that never used to be there, not when I was home. I’ve told the girl with the watery eyes, but she just smiled and patted my hand. I didn’t want her to pat me- I’m not a dog. But the sun had moved all the way to the left, which means it’s nearly time for something and I get all jittery and find it difficult to think when I know it’s time for something.

At least the girl with the watery-eyes smells nice, like… something sweet. Something to do with a big piece of wood and a rolling pin.

The other one just smells like mince, like she’s got a pound of mince tucked into each bra cup. Dirty cow. What’s she doing looking after old people when she’s got mince in her undies. I tried to have a look, lifted her arm, tried to pull down her top to see how she was keeping it in place, but she grabbed my wrist. It pinched and I tried to wriggle free so she pinched some more. I screamed like billy-o until the watery-eyed one came and took me to my room. She’s got a soft voice, like a wood pigeon’s coo.

Almonds. That’s what the watery-eyed one smells of. Almonds, like that cake with sliced fingernails on the top and jam on the bottom. Sliced almonds, that’s what I mean- but they look like fingernails, like my Mam’s fingernails when she took the polish off with a ball of cotton wool. The cotton would start white like a snow cloud and end up with a smear of sticky red like a post box.

The food’s all wrong, too. They don’t mash the carrots and there’s no butter in them and no matter how much I try, I can’t find my cruet set, the one with the push-button on the top. I asked one of the old women today if she’d seen it, but I think she was a bit simple because she started to tell me about her cat being run over. The old lady had sticky spit in the corners of her mouth and her nose was running. I didn’t have a hanky, so I wiped her nose with her dressing gown. My Mam used to spit on a hanky to clean our faces- the spit smelt of cigarettes and she always scrubbed hard until I cried.

The watery-eyed girl told me her name. She says she told me what it was before, but I think she’s got me confused with one of the old people, because I’m sure I never knew it. When she told me and I smelt her smell again, I thought of a wooden table big as a door, sunlight slanting onto it through a high little window. The table’s white and dusty, covered in flour. There’s a ragged circle of something beige and a metal pie dish and my Mam standing over it with a rolling pin. And her fingernails are clean and white, just like the flaked almonds that sit in a bowl in front of me.

My Mam making Bakewell Tart.

I don’t know why the thought made me feel so sad, but I started to cry and the watery-eyed girl put her arms around me. I told her, she needs to send me home now, else my Mam will worry. The watery-eyed girl patted my back and I didn’t want to shrug her off this time. She sat me in the chair they’ve put in my room where the light’s all wrong and said she’d fetch a cup of tea. I asked her for a slice of Mam’s Bakewell Tart, but she just smiled and left the room.

I really think they should send me home now.


Today’s Writing 101 challenge was to write a post about losing something.

Much of my fiction seems to involve losing things- people, memories, minds- it’s clearly something I’m fixated with. But then it’s a good subject to write about, making the protagonist terrified, agonised, forcing them on a quest to recover what’s gone.

Sadly in this story, my protagonist suffers from dementia and has lost her connections with the present, with her own past and she’ll never get them back. But she grasps at moments that comfort her- the memory of watching her mum baking.

My first published stories were in an anthology called Still Me in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. If you’re interested in supporting the society and reading some short fiction and poetry, do take a look at Pewter Rose Press

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12 thoughts on “Lost

  1. Wow. This was so real – I really felt this. The concluding sentence really captured the reality of Alzheimers and the confused state of this characters memories and thoughts. You are a very talented writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynn, I’ve a suggestion (which you can ignore if you think I’m talking nonsense): ‘What’s she doing looking after old people when she’s got mince in her undies’ – might be worth thinking about scrapping the ‘old’ here. Up until this point, I wondered what’s wrong with the narrator, if s/he’s in hospital or a psychiatric unit maybe because the voice sounds quite young (which is the point, I think). But when s/he said old people, I knew it had to be dementia. I suppose it depends on how early on you want to reveal it.
    Another great one, though. As I said, the voice reads like a child’s, but there are little clues that made me wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sonya for the feedback. I guess I was trying to suggest that, even though she’s in an old people’s home, she doesn’t recognise herself as such- she still believes she’s a young girl.
      Valid point, though and very much appreciated- I’ll have a think.
      I love writing short fiction, but have been pretty unsuccessful at getting much published so far with more rejections than accepted pieces (mind you, I haven’t had anything else published yet, either!) So any constructive feedback like this is really useful.
      Thanks again

      Like

  3. Excellent work. Loved the imagery. “Soft voice, like a wood pigeon’s coo.” Her association of the people with their own fragrance was telling. I am glad you added the commentary at the end. It made the piece have so much more depth for me. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Dementia is one of the most tragic illnesses for me- we are a composite of our experiences and our memories of that experience. Are we truly the same person if we’ve lost the memories that made us? Thanks again for your words- it means a great deal.

      Liked by 1 person

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