For months now I’ve been telling myself to participate in Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenges. Well, I finally got my crap together and did just that. Not sure I picked the best week to start. This one was a hard one.
“This week, I want you to write about something that scares you.
This can be something overt and obvious (CHAINSAW CLOWNS) to something deeper (“I am afraid of losing my mind to Alzheimer’s”) — but I want you to take aim at it and lay it bare on the page and construct a story around it as best as you can.
You have 1000 words.
Story due by 1/20, noon EST.
Post at your online space, give us a link below.
Write your fear.”
The story below is the fear I’ve had since my stroke. I do have to say this was a little therapeutic. You can see his original post here. And while you’re there, check out the rest of his site. It’s worth the time, trust me.
My eyes opened slowly. Where was I? What happened? The last thing I remember was that headache. Oh God, that horrible piercing pain that I felt in the depths of my ears and the center of my teeth. That at least had subsided, though the echo of it was still there.
Cream colored walls with a horrible teal and purple border greeted me. A white board hung on wall across from me telling me the date and who my nurse for the day was. But that couldn’t be right, could it? Ten days? I’d been in the hospital for ten days. We can’t afford this. Our insurance is awful. I began to mentally tally the bills we had and what was due when. I wonder what kind of payment plan they’d give me.
It occurred to me in the midst of my calculations that I hadn’t moved since I woke. A pillow lay across my stomach with my arms resting on it. I could feel the IV but couldn’t drop my gaze to look at it. I tried to lift my arm, but my fingers didn’t even twitch. A persistent beeping came from my left but I couldn’t turn my head to glare at the machine it came from.
A woman in pink scrubs walked into the room, stopping when she saw me. She stuck her head back out the door. “Page the doctor. She’s awake.”
“Hello. We wondered when you were going to wake up. Let’s see how you’re doing.” I wanted to answer, to ask her what happened but I couldn’t form the words. Her touch chilled my skin when she checked my IV. She put one of those plastic clamps on my finger and took my temperature with a swipe across the forehead. The whole time, I laid there unmoving. A cold, dark panic took up residence in the middle of my chest.
God, no. What was wrong with me? Somebody help me.
I tried to reason with myself. To calm myself. Maybe they had me drugged for some reason and I just needed to wait for it to wear off. “Hello, Ms. Smith,” a deep voice came from near the door and the nurse stepped aside. A short man with dark thinning hair and thick glasses came to stand beside the bed. He grasped my wrist between his thumb and two of his fingers.
“Do you know where you are?”
The hospital. I’m in the hospital.
“You’re in St. Thomas Hospital. Do you remember what happened?”
No. Tell me! What’s wrong with me? When will this go away? Help me.
The doctor pulled a penlight from his pocket and shined it into my eyes. They blinked involuntarily. He put the light away. “Can you blink for me, Ms. Smith?”
‘Of course I can,’ I wanted to say but no words came. I tried to blink, to flutter a lid, but nothing happened. That core of fear I’d thus far managed to keep in my chest swamped me. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry but I could do none of it. God, help me.
“She’s non-responsive,” the doctor said, removing his hand from my wrist. “I’ll order a brain scan and we should get her family in for a consult. We’ll give it time, but it’s unlikely at this point she’ll recover much more.”
No! I’m in here. Let me out! Help me!
The doctor stopped in the doorway, looking back at me with a furrowed brow and thin lips drawn down into a tight frown. I tried to move, to blink, to grunt, anything. He shook his head and walked out the door, the nurse beside him.
I’m in here.
Let me out.