This is the story of Jackie, who one day finds that a friend is missing, then another, and then a lot of people are gone…Where are they, what happened to them? No one knows, read Jackie’s story as she struggles to figure out if she is losing her mind, or people are really just gone. At first blush it wouldn’t seem obvious that this was inspired by the idea of surviving a zombie apocalypse, but it was. The idea that at some point along the way that surviving just isn’t enough anymore, and with no end in sight, being bitten would be a blessing.

As a child Jackie had read a story about a girl who found her face on a milk carton and everything changed. The girl soon discovered that while she lived a happy life with her “adoptive” parents, or as she called them, parents, her biological family had been devastated. There was no going anywhere alone, always a parent present, their lives had been forever changed.

Jackie guessed thats kind of what she expected. It would make sense that a person disappearing would leave a hole in the the lives of the people around them That the not knowing would drive them crazy, though Jackie felt that in some cases knowing was actually worse.

So when one of Jackie’s closest friends, Betty, had disappeared, she did not expect what came next. More specifically she did not expect to be the only person who remembered Betty. She couldn’t understand how this was the case. Betty taught second grade, she had a boyfriend, parents, a sister, an apartment, and a car.

When Jackie went looking, she could find no evidence of any of this. Betty’s parents knew her as the girl down the street, Betty’s sister loudly stated that she was an only child. Betty’s boyfriend, single of course, resided in Betty’s apartment, and drove her car. Each person Jackie spoke to, looked at her as if she had two heads, they had never heard of Betty.

It went about as well as you would imagine, when Jackie showed up at the police station to file a missing persons report on someone who had no record of having ever existed. Seventy-two hours later she walked out of the psych ward with a prescription, a follow-up appointment, and a tentative diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Jackie however knew the truth; Betty was real, and Betty was missing. She took the medication though, despite the side effects, because Jackie believed in modern medicine, and even she had to admit her own story sounded insane.

Then she went to visit Betty’s sister again, only the person who opened the door wasn’t Betty’s sister. Martha had never heard of Grace, or Betty, and offered to call someone when she saw how upset Jackie was getting. Jackie left, and headed straight for Betty and Grace’s parents, who still recognized her as the girl next door, but claimed, rather vehemently, that they had not had any children.

This time Jackie skipped the police station, and a week later Betty and Grace’s parents were gone. Jackie got her meds adjusted, and it seemed like that solved the problem. No more of Jackie’s friends, and family went missing, and even she agreed it did seem likely that she made them up. Even though her imagination was never quite that good, and she still had very vivid, life-long memories of these people.

It was almost a year later when she started to notice the cracks in the foundation, so to speak. While Jackie’s friends and family were around, there seemed to be less people around in general. Cafe’s, theatres, and other business’s everywhere were just a little too far below capacity for it not to be noticeable. It wasn’t just her that noticed this either, well, it kind of was. It was complicated.

No one seemed to notice that people, on the whole seemed to be missing. Instead the reports focused on the negative impacts of over-development in small towns, how building too much was almost as bad as too little, that local business owners were struggling to keep the doors open with so few customers coming in each day.

The strangest part was, they seemed to accept it, despite the fact it quite obviously made no sense. If no one was gone, no one had left, no fewer people come to town, then why were the businesses struggling now? Why, wasn’t it a problem 10, 20 years ago when they opened? None of it made any sense, and It seemed everyday now someone disappeared, a shop missing, never opened, and then it happened.

She stepped into her parents house to see a wall of pictures of only her. Ben never existed, her own brother was gone The worst part was, all she felt was relief. It seemed to travel in families, the disappearing, and that meant that she would be next. That there wouldn’t be anymore waiting, no more fear, no more pills.

When she saw the thing in the fog, she didn’t run away, but walked towards it. It looked, surprised as she eagerly took it’s hand. “About time.” She said amiably, and it filched. The fog grew heavier and heavier, until at last Jackie couldn’t see even herself, and she too was gone.

Night Owl

This was based a little upon my own discovery of revenge bedtime procrastination, an ADHD meme from Tumblr, and just some overall irritation at someone I know using the term functional until I felt more than a little violent.

It was one thing to discover that others deliberately stayed up to late to get time to themselves, and another to discover that it had a name “revenge bedtime procrastination” and a list of known causes and effects.

There was a certain flare of indignation that went up at being so targeted, and then a small measure of relief at the knowledge that this was not just being broken, this was a thing. Just another of many of the things that Brandon had, but would never take the time or money on having diagnosed, because frankly no one cared.

Brandon was single, had a good paying job, and as long as he was, as the shrinks say “functional” and wanted no specific accommodation, there was not reason ot get one. In fact, there were nothing but negatives, with the current perception of mental health as it was, haivng this on file could only hurt him. In his line of work it would practically make him unhirable, and for what exactly, a certificate declaring what he already knew to be true.

No no, he was better off just dealing with it alone, the best he could, as he always had. And following the tips on the article, because he really could use some more sleep, oh, wait, those trees can do what?

The Nature of Memory

This was written for a writing course I was taking, and we had to start at one time, and then skip forward or back in the life of the same person. I started in the 80’s and then skipped forward to the near present. Again, it seems to have a theme of being happy with what you have, and I guess the theme of 2022 is self acceptance. Please note, that I am not trying to accept being a serial killer, this note will make more sense after some of my later posts.

I coughed as I tried to escape the fumes, hoping that no one lit a match near my sister’s head. “Come on, Jenny, you have enough hairspray that you could use your hair as a helmet. We are going to be late.” I stamped my foot, and then reached down to pull up my neon pink leg warmer.

I couldn’t wait to get to the roller rink, but Jenny was busy trying to get just a little more volume that Amy Pilsner, and so I was stuck. Mom wouldn’t let me take my bike across town alone at night, so I was stuck waiting for Jenny, as usual

Tracey looked down at the photo, that had brought back the memory rushing back like it was yesterday. Jenny had been so proud of her hair, that she begged Mom to take a Polaroid of it. There were three of them. The first one Tracey was sneezing, and the second Jenny’s eyes were closed, but the third was perfect. We were so happy back then.

Tracey’s phone dinged, and she pulled herself out of the chair, wincing a little at the pain in her right knee. She would have to rub some A535 on it later, and take some tylenol. It only took a month for her to heal from that first sprain back at the rink, but she was still feeling last years, even after the physio.

She finally got to the phone, and saw the notification. It Emily, Jenny’s granddaughter, posting a picture of her and her mother Clara on Instagram. Emily looked so much like Jenny had at that age, it made her heart ache. Tracey felt a stab of guilt at how long it had been since she had went to see Jenny, but it wasn’t like Jenny would know. Jenny hadn’t remembered her in a long time.

Every time Tracey left the nursing home, she was paranoid for weeks. Each time she forgot her where she left her keys, she wondered if this was it. Was this was the first step, though she was reaching an age where it wouldn’t be early onset anymore. At least Jenny seemed happy, happier than she was at least.

Tracey looked around her small two bedroom house and frowned at the quiet. She wondered at times if her mother had been right. If Tracey should have settled down, settled that is, and got married and had some kids. There wouldn’t be the linger rumors at family occasions that she was in fact, a lesbian.

It was such a strange concept to others, that she would prefer being alone, that they instead tried to come up with ideas on why she didn’t have someone. The lesbian theory was the best of the bunch, the others leaving her either traumatized, or too pitiful to keep someone. They couldn’t imagine that she might not want someone, that this may be the life she wanted.

They were too busy comparing her to Jenny, who in her illness had her history rewritten. People spoke of how sad it was that Jenny couldn’t remember her children, how happy they had made her, how much she loved them. That this illness had torn apart such a happy family, and that Jenny never got a chance to know her own grandchild , oh it was such a terrible thing.

Some of it was even true. It was tragic that Jenny didn’t know her own grandchild, and it was true that she loved her daughters, but the reality stopped there. People seemed to gloss over Jenny’s teen pregnancy, the alcoholism, the seven weeks her second daughter spent in the NICU for FAS, or the two years the kids lived with Tracey and Jenny’s parents until Jenny got back on her feet.

It was the same way they glossed over thirty years of nursing, the volunteer work, and all the traveling Tracey did in her own life. In the end, all anyone saw when they compared the sisters was Jenny’s two surprisingly well adjusted daughters, four grandchildren and Tracey’s empty house.

Tracey’s phone dinged again, and she saw the reminder: Cards with the Girls. She looked around her empty house again, and smiled. She loved her nieces dearly, but she really wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

The Madness of Faerie

This started as a prompt to write a YA synopsis and and NA synopsis. It morphed into the story of what happened after the first book I think. So its set between two novels I haven’t written about a young girl with early onset schizophrenia. I did do some research on Schizophrenia before I wrote this, but please tell me if I got anything wrong. Will warn you it has a bit of an ambiguous ending.

“Gemma?” A strange woman, asked her as she paced back and forth agitated.

“Yes?  That’s me.  I don’t understand, what is this place?  How did I get here, where is my family? Who are you?  What’s going on here?” She demanded.  The woman escorted her to a sparsely furnished office.  When the were settled the woman started to speak.

“I am Dr. Roberts. I am a psychiatrist, and this is Meadow Woods, a psychiatric care facility.”  The woman explained slowly.

“What? I don’t understand, I am a regular 16-year-old girl. Why I am I here?” She yelled in frustration.

“Gemma, do you remember talking to the Fae?” Dr. Roberts asked tentatively.

She went to deny it, but a part of her had a half memory of faeries.  A dream maybe? “I think I had a dream about them, but what does a dream have to do with this?  Dreams are all nonsense.”

“It wasn’t a dream Gemma.” Dr. Roberts started, but she interrupted.

“What, the Fae are real then?” She scoffed.

“No, its, there is no easy way to say this, but you have been diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia.” The doctor said gently.

“What, no, I feel fine,” Gemma started, and the doctor held up a hand to stop her.

“Let me explain a little.  In early onset schizophrenia, it usually presents as mood swings, irritability, confusion.  With your age, your parents divorce, no one thought it was strange.  Then you went to your aunts for the summer. She assumed you not wanting to spend time with them and your young cousins was a teenager thing. You however, were in what we call an episode, and were having vivid hallucination about the Fae. This worked out fine at your aunts where you were relatively unsupervised, but once you were back…  Well at first your parents thought the upset was the divorce.”

It was the second time Dr. Roberts said that, the divorce.  She could remember her parents telling her, but it felt like she was being forced to wade through Jell-O to get her thoughts together.

The doctor stopped for a sip of water, and then continued.  “There was an incident. You were out all night in the snow. You came back cold, wet, and when your mother asked where you had been…. Well, you explained that you had been in the faerie realm.  Your mother contacted us, and we brought you here, to treat you.  It’s been hard work. Your case was particularly resistant to medication, but it seems like we found a combination that works.  I know its a lot to take in.”  The doctor said, leaning forward, and taking one of Gemma’s hands in hers.  “Can you tell me how you feel?”

“How I feel?  Are you joking? Is this a joke?  I mean, I feel, I dunno tired.  This though, this is crazy, I can’t. I mean, I am 16, you don’t just go crazy at 16?  God, how much school have a missed?  Am I going to have to repeat the year? I won’t be able to graduate with my friends.  Do they know what happened?”  There was something on the doctor’s face that stopped her.  “What is it?”

“Excuse me?” The Doctor asked, looking a little confused.

“I recognize that look. It’s the one mom used to get when they were hiding the divorce. What aren’t you telling me?” Gemma demanded

“I think we should let this sink in for a bit, and continue our talk later.” The doctor started, pulling away, but Gemma grabbed her hand.

“Tell me.” She demanded again.

The doctor let out a long sigh. “Gemma, I.  I explained that your case was hard to treat.  That finding a combination of medication was trial and error.  It took a lot of time.” 

A sinking horror came over Gemma and she looked down at her hands.  Her summer tan was long gone, and her hands bony as if she had lost weight. “How long?” She asked, voice shaky.

“Gemma.” The doctor said gently.

“HOW long?”  She half screamed the demand.  She had to know.

“Three and a half years.”  The doctor replied shortly.

Gemma felt the room spin a little as it hit her.  Three and a half years. That would make her, 19, maybe 20?  Her friends, would be gone.  Not just out of high school, but even if they had taken that gap year and gone to Europe they would be back by now.  In schools, probably spread across the country. Her older sister was pregnant, but the baby, God the baby wouldn’t even be a baby anymore.  It was like she time traveled, like, and oh, the irony.  She started to laugh.

“Gemma, are you alright?” Dr. Roberts asked.

“I am fine.” She said through a laugh, it wasn’t funny.

“Gemma,” the doctor was looking concerned now.

“Sorry, sorry, its not funny, but it is you know.  I just, before all of this, I was reading about Faeries, and they explained that people that got trapped in the Fae realm, when they came back it was like they had time travelled.  Sometimes years had passed and their lives were gone.  And now here you are telling me that exact thing happened, years passed while I was thinking I was in Faerie, and its just the irony.  It struck me funny. I know, its not, but I guess, its laugh or cry.  What do I even do now, now that everyone has moved on without me?” She asked, the laughter stopping as abruptly as it started.

“Now that you are with us, we adjust your meds.” Doctor Roberts said voice even.

“We make it so that they work as well as they can. Then we work on getting you caught up, ready to go back out into the world.  It will take some hard work, but you won’t be behind as you think.  A lot of people take time before going to college, or finding the job they want. You’ll see.” The doctor was trying to be comforting, but there was a part of Gemma that wanted to go back.  Back to the happiness of delusions, where she didn’t know that the world had left her behind. 

In the corner of her eye she saw a spark, and something move, and she wondered if she would stay here or follow it.