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Creative Writing Challenge

I recently referred to a great creative writing challenge regularly presented by Saturday Scribes. The last challenge for the year is based on the theme “Journey’s end” and three words – anathema, epitome and denouement.

Here is my contribution to the challenge and my first attempt at Saturday Scribes (so please be gentle)


My earliest memories are stark white peppered with silence.
Even in old age, I can recall the stiffness of the hospital sheets pulled taut across me, the hardness of the mattress below me, the quiet murmurs of the nurses as they prodded and poked me, their grim faces and vacant eyes, the endlessly white claustrophobic walls stretching around me. There were moments when colour splashed across these walls – sickeningly fragrant flower arrangements from my poor mother’s garden.
Those cursed flowers were the beginning of the end of my life’s journey.  For days on end, I would lay there watching them slowly fade as the water in the vase turned murky and green.  I would hold my breath, as they exhaled their last stagnant perfume, and without forewarning the petals would suddenly turn grey, limp and dead.  I counted the petals as they would break free and drift towards the floor.  As much as I willed them to stay a little longer, fresh and pert, they never did and I suffered with them in their demise.  At the time, I firmly believed that if I could only capture their essential beauty and keep them eternally poised in a moment of gloriousness then I too would heal.  Even in the courtroom I pleaded that the years of hopelessly watching this relentless cycle from pulchritude to putridity had significantly affected me.  No one seemed to understand the depths of my anguish.  No one seemed to care that to watch the slow decay of beauty was anathema to me.

As I courted adult years, my body maintained its wretchedness.   I skilfully dodged any chance of catching my reflection.  I averted my eyes before mirrors, and avoided shiny surfaces that might imprison my image.  If I didn’t see the ghost of myself, then it (I) didn’t exist.  There are no photographs of me … no, that is not strictly true.  There are three – a direct front view, a left and a right profile but I don’t want to talk about those.  How I screamed when they took them.  I hurled myself at them, I flung myself against the wall, I raked at my face and body, I cursed at them, but they refused to be averted from their meticulous task and forcibly held me to take the shots.  The misery was unbearable.  I cannot understand who would want to record my array of deformities – hunchback; twisted legs; gnarled gross hands; bulbous nose and flayed skin.

For many years, there is only one that could look upon me without scorn or fear – my beloved nurse.  She is the epitome of grace and kindness.  When she administers healing balms, her soft gentle hands soothe my aching body.  On our daily walks into the garden, she shoulders my weight without complaint, and patiently waits while I pluck each glorious bloom from its stem and crush it underfoot.  She has never asked my why I do this, and I believe that in her heart she understands that is far better to destroy beauty in its greatness than to watch it waste away.  She humours me, and lets me pluck the grey hairs that have started to sprout around her temples.  She understands.

They say that my neighbour – a surly fellow who was obsessive about my nurse and for whom I have little regard – found me lying beside her.  They say that my contorted hands were scarlet with her blood.  They say that today they have been waiting for the denouement of this pitiful and hideous case.  I do not understand why they have not allowed nurse to be here with me for I am lost without her.  I feel as though her essence is slipping from my memory.

Today, I heard the clattering of a key and the grating of grey cold steel.  Today, I feel the hardness of the mattress beneath me and I pull the grimy grey and threadbare blanket tightly across me.  All I can see is the endless grey gloomy walls echoing around me, and there isn’t even a spatter of colour to watch as it fades into grey.


6 Responses

  1. Wow, very vivid. I like that first sentence, it hints at the harshness to come.

    Thanks for dropping by Saturday Scribes, hope to see you back again in January.

    – dr

  2. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Desert Rat. I might be back in January.

  3. Very, very powerful.
    Bet you thought I’d never come by didn’t you? LOL

  4. Thanks Krishanna for coming by and for your feedback. Be seeing you on NaBloPoMo!

  5. Very vivid and evocative. I too like the first line, but almost more for the sense and feeling it causes. I can almost taste the air in the room. It is a disturbing piece and one that causes the reader to think, which I think is always an excellent achievement.

  6. Zilla’s Other Half – thank you so much for reading the piece and for your gracious comments.

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