writing update • 17 jan 2020 • novel word count • 31,912
If you're a writer and you use Twitter, you'll most likely know what #vss365 means. If you don't know, it means Very Short Story 365.
Everyday a word prompt is provided by a host (each month the person hosting changes. A quick search using #vss365 should enable you to find out who is hosting). Below you will find a series of Very Short Stories, or as have named them, Tiny Tales. The first prompt, TORRENT, kicked off this little series.
Following the very supportive and encouraging comments I received on Twitter after writing the first one, I decided to further challenge myself by continuing the fictional story of a daughter's thoughts about life with her ailing father. While it was an emotional series to write, the feedback I received on this series of Tiny Tales has been very positive, and a little overwhelming in a very nice way.
If you use Twitter, and love a daily word challenge, these are a great exercise.
A Father's Mind is the result of connecting 14 consecutive word prompts.
I ignore the torrent of abusive language firing from his tongue like machine gun bullets. I wipe the spittle foaming from his lips—the lips that once kissed the top of my head and said 'Night my sweet pea.'
When he asks who the hell I am, I whisper, 'I love you dad.'
He attempts to delve into his bowl of oatmeal, belly-flopping his spoon onto the food's gray surface. Chunks of congealed oatmeal spray, a glob glueing itself to the bib he thinks is his tuxedo shirt.
'Let me help dad', I say, prizing the spoon from his trembling hand.
If this week had a reputation she'd say it was nothing but trouble... Bed wetting, spitting, pulling her hair whenever he could grip it in his weak hands, vacant stares when she smiled at him. Despite it all, each night she thanked God for giving her father one more day.
I've made a list of things I need to tell you—before it's too late—things I put off saying because I was too busy, too tired, too far away. The thank you's I left unsaid for all you always gave. In the unlikely event Dad that you wake up one day and remember who I am.
Before the dementia, before forgotten days with unremembered faces, before his disease broke my heart into a million piece jigsaw, before his mind was worm-holed and eroded from a once verdant landscape to a gray barren plain, my father was a brilliant, loving, kind man.
Somewhere in his broken mind is a stack of memories that I'm sure would measure a mile in height, if they could ever be found. But as is the way with this wretched disease, things go missing—not things like cups and plates, we could replace them—but faces, names... me.
Elsewhere was where Dad resided most days. His room, our house, merely spaces he occupied as he lived his muddled days. Belongings he’d been surrounded by for years as foreign to him now as newly invented gadgets would be. Elsewhere was his island… no room there for us.
I've seen the looks on some people's faces, the rolling of eyes, the whispering behind hands used as shields, and I try not to let them bother me... They don't realize Dad's outbursts, his twitching, his grunting are not extreme folly, but the curse of a cruel disease.
The kids were hysterical when Grandad dropped his trousers on Christmas Day to reveal his Superman underwear. For their sake, we'd said it was Grandad's joke. Later kids in bed, sadness and fear replaced holiday joy, as we realized any one of us might one day become him.
There's no answer when I ask Dad what he'd like for dinner—his glazed stare and body rocking replace his silent tongue. There's no answer when I ask God why he confined Dad to this prison. But when I silently question if I'll be next, a voice in my head says, "probably."
Hell had been her home for what felt like eternity. It wasn’t his fault, and she often wondered which of them had it worse. But what if the doctors were wrong? What if one day he was back to being the caring father she remembered? Surely it was possible if she believed.
Somedays Dad's like a wounded stray dog. His frightened mind fearful of those working to keep him alive. Other days he's a feral cat, hissing and clawing, determined to push away hands that help, and hearts that love. That glitch in his brain stronger now than he is.
I'd give him wings allowing him to fly out of his diseased mind, if I could. I'd say, "Fly Dad... Fly away! Fly to where you're free to remember, where you get to choose what you want to forget. Fly Dad, Fly!" As a family we'd flock behind him, our wings a flap-flapping.
Despite the horrors of our days, each night as I watched Dad sleep I was able to slip back in time. I could forget his dementia, forget his vitriolic tongue, forget his forgetfulness, and remember instead the man who once upon a time lovingly called me his little Queen.
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