Thanks Rochelle for hosting.  All links can be found here.

 

 

 100 Words

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The theater Elizabeth had gone to, the beach home where she spent her summer vacations, all gone.

“Mom, you remember Bill. My husband?”

Arms crossed, leg bouncing up and down, Elizabeth turned, her glazed over eyes met Bill’s.  “You lost weight.”

Bill had barely gained or lost a pound in twenty years.

“Mom?”

Mom whispered into Bill’s ear.  “Someone keeps stealing my garbage cans.”

Bill looked up at his wife as his mother in-law Elizabeth suddenly squealed with childish delight at the kids playing in the pool.  Elizabeth’s keepsakes hung, out of reach, on the back wall of her thoughts.

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Ohhh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY bus driver. 

44 thoughts on “Storage Wars

  1. Dear Tom,

    Sad and tragic. I do not want to go there but wonder whether I’ll recognize the moment when it is time to pull the trigger. Memories slip insidiously away until we cannot remember what it is we cannot remember and what we were supposed to do once that happened.

    Good work.

    Aloha,

    Doug

  2. Dear Tom,

    I found myself getting lost, but I’m thinking perhaps this is your intent as we’re reading Elizabeth’s mind’s demise. Yes?

    Some practical things. You need and apostrophe in Bills in the 3rd paragraph. Comma after legs bouncing up and down.

    All too close to my own mother-in-law who still remembers us, just not where she is. Tragic.

    And…thank you for the birthday wishes. The celebration will continue all month.

    shalom,

    Rochelle

    1. Rochelle,
      I edited the comment for you as you asked. I also had to remove an extra “the” you had added by mistake.

      This conversation is very close to a conversation I use to have with a lady across the street from my girlfriend’s house. The first time she met me she said “You look good. You lost some weight.” I had never met her before, a few seconds later she complained about her garbage cans being stolen and whispered it in my ear like it was our secret. A few days later it was the same conversation. Alzheimer and Dementia are sad to watch. My cousin’s mom has it and she goes from paranoid one second to acting like a happy child the next. It’s very sad to know that memories are kept someplace in storage in their mind. Thanks for the tips and Happy Birthday!

      Tom

  3. It’s interesting to me how when someone starts to lose their minds due to old age that they do try to hide it. Like how she remarked that Bill had lost weight maybe to cover for herself — not knowing who he was.

    1. Linda,
      I am glad you picked up on that. It leaves you to wonder are they doing it because they think you are someone else or are they doing to cover up the fact that they are losing their minds? It’s so hard to tell. Thanks for stopping in.
      Tom

  4. My Dad had dementia the last few years of his life. It was sad, and really hard for the caregiver. The hospice lady told us that the sick person often outlives the caregiver because of the added stress. I sure took a toll on Mom. This one hit close to home. Well written, Tom.

    1. Russell,
      It is an extremely stressful thing to go through. I am sorry for your loss. The caregiver is under constant stress and I could see how that would cut a life short. To watch someone slip away over the years has be to hardest thing in the world. Your mother is a strong woman standing by your father’s side. Your Dad was a lucky man.

      Tom

  5. Hi Tom, this one touched something in me. My Nan had a breakdown following divorce from my Granddad and lost the plot for a while. She was so bad that the doctors waited until my Dad turned 18 so he could authorize the hospital to carry out a lobotomy on my Nan.

    After the operation she was like a child and was confined to an institution where we used to visit her a couple of times a year. I remember as a small boy walking down dimly lit corridors and keeping to the middle of the corridor to avoid the hands reaching through small barred windows in the doors and trying to grab me. Thank God we don’t treat our mentally ill and impaired like that anymore. Good story. 🙂

    1. Thank god we do not treat our mentally ill the way we use to but we still have a long way to go. Many of the mentally ill get locked up and put behind bars. It’s a shame but it’s the truth. I didn’t mean to bring anyone down but you know me I normally write about “real people” and the crap we go through.

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom,
    I guess we all have that stuff hanging on the back walls of our minds, and that was a very innovative way of saying it, and an inventive take on the photo. Hope all is well in Long Guyland. Ron

    1. Ron,
      Don’t you mean to say Strong Island…”Long Guyland” is how we say it and yes, all is well here. I really got a kick out of your story this week. Thanks for the fine comment.
      Tom

  7. What a sad story and such and excellent last line, Tom! I think this possibility is something we all dread and hope never happens to us.

    Now, taking up my editor’s pen, do two things for me–write “the beach home where she spent her summer vacations (ditch the “at), and add a comma after “Mom, you remember…”. (That’s how you know it’s really me commenting. 🙂

    janet

    1. Janet,
      If I ditch the “at” you owe me a word. I got ya on the comma….Great seeing you here Janet. I hope all is well with you.

      Tom

    2. OK I took out “at” and added playing in another sentence….you’re lucky I found my own word. I wouldn’t want to be “at”…that’s right I said it.. at 99 words.

  8. I love the title of this one, Tom. A great story. I think you could have easily gotten away without including that it is Bill’s mother-in-law, Elizabeth as you make that relationship clear when he is introduced as the daughter’s husband. You could have gone with either Bill’s mother-in-law or taken Bill out and just said Elizabeth. Using both weighed the sentence down a bit on my read. I hope you don’t mind the comment. Again, a well done story.

    1. First off let me say your are right….I have a hard time with knowing when people are following along with who is who. Second, let me say thanks for noticing the title of the story. Third, let me say I never mind a good point or comment. Thanks for your honesty and for taking the time out to read my little story.

      Tom

  9. Dementia is such a scary and tragic thing… your first sentence alone seizes this. To lose the memories of the beach house where Elizabeth spent summer vacations (and, presumably, wonderful times) is greatly sad. And then her not remembering her son-in-law… you really convey a terrible memory loss.

    1. Thanks Dave. The second to last sentence is a little tough to read but hey, you can’t win them all. Thanks for stopping in and for taking the time to read.

      Tom

    1. Lindaura Glamoura,

      Don’t be sad. The world is a shit hole you just have to embrace that and be happy that you have what you have.

      Tom

  10. It is great how you have taken snippets of what has happened to you in reality and fixed them into the flash – it makes it all the more believable – towards the end I was confused a little with the sudden change but obviously it is reflective of the disease.
    Alzheimer sufferers have memories that slip through time and space, and eventually return to childhood. Almost.
    Your flash captures how that feels.

    1. You make some excellent points. Thanks for the kind words. As writers if we are not taking from the real world we are not capturing the essence of what it means to be human. I often store away things I hear or see to be use them later. Writers are gathers who explain the human condition and I see it as our role to make note of moments, events and feelings that are around us all the time.
      Tom

  11. A very creative take on the prompt. Your last line was lovely – keepsakes hung on the back wall of her mind… Beautiful!

    A couple minor suggestions to fine tune the writing for maximum emotional impact:

    First, stick with either Elizabeth or Mom throughout the entire piece. Going back and forth and throwing in a “mother-in-law” makes it read a little choppy, especially since this is only 100 words. Also because no one would call her all three of those things. (You wouldn’t call your mom by her first name, nor would you call her your husband’s mother-in-law, for example). Being consistent in what you call her will give your readers a better sense of your narrator’s relationship with this woman.

    Second, try writing from first person point-of-view. You have three characters in this piece, but I don’t feel like I quite connect with any of them (perhaps in part because the narrator’s relationship to the woman is unclear because of the Elizabeth/Mom thing). For extra fun, write it from each person’s POV. Each one will have a very different feel to it. See which one you like best.

    With such a powerful subject, you could fine tune this to pack a serious punch to the emotions. The story is poignant, but I think the above suggestions would tighten it up and make it more intensely personal.

    1. I agree with you about the name changing and flip flopping. It was a definite mistake. I was trying to make it easier for people to follow along and instead I made it harder to follow. I would love to put the time into this piece and make it tighter and more personal but if the truth is to be told… I use FF as a way to keep the creative juices flowing and I normally do not spend more than a half hour from first seeing the picture to completion of the story. There are just too many fish to fry and as it is commenting, writing and blah blah blah consume a lot of time. I will keep it in mind for the next one and for future stories. You make some excellent points. Writing this from all three of their perspectives would be extremely useful and would more than likely result in a better story. If I only had the time…as I type my youngest craves for my time, there are dishes to do and we are going out fishing today. I appreciate your honesty and time, keep the the comments coming they are very helpful.

      Tom

      1. Oh, I know! Time is in short supply here, too! I rarely go back and change my FF stories for that very reason, even if the suggestions are spot on. Too many other things going on…

        1. Time always seem to be in short supply. I type this at 930 in the morning on just a few hours sleep…What I would do for just one more hour of sleep.

  12. Tom
    As has been mentioned already, dementia is such a terrible illness. It robs the sufferer of the ability to respond to memories,people and places and the family and friends of a loved one, and leaves them feeling guilty because there is absolutely nothing they can do.
    Well written sad tale Tom
    Dee

    1. I think all of us will go through a conversation or two like this in our lifetime. Sad indeed…didn’t meant to bring you down. Thanks for the read.

      Tom

  13. My grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s. The erosion was painful to watch. As were the varied reactions from love ones. Me, I decided to meet her wherever she lived that particular day and not fight the disease. That way I got to discover a gem every time she visited the “keepsakes hung, out of reach, on the back wall of her thoughts.”

    Suggestion: I don’t think you need the “Mom?”

    1. That suggestion is dead on and I appreciate it. Alzheimer’s and dementia are perhaps the one of the hardest thing to witness.

      Thanks,
      Tom

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