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.

Walking the Wire

Okay, so I decided to give the six-sentence stories a trial run till October, and this is the next one! The work of the week is NET , posted by girlontheedge. I chose to write about someone with an unspecified mental illness, take from it what you will

There are days when I get up and everything is wrong and I am teetering on a high wire without a safety net. On these days people can see that I am not okay, and they buzz around full of endless suggestions that only make me feel more off-balance.

Then there are the days when I get up and it’s as if the wire never existed and I walk sure footed with my head held high, a smile on my face.  On these days people see that I am fine, and they think that it is over, and that if I try hard enough that I can always be this way.

What they cannot see is that the wire never really goes away and the difference is just that some days balancing is easy so I can play a person, but the rest I am doing everything I can just to keep from falling off.  

They do not understand that this change they see is even harder for me because I am walking the high wire without a safety net and every step I take could be the easiest or hardest of my life and I do not know which it will be until I am already taking it.