This time around, our Play with the Prose challenge was to write a 300-word or less story about someone halfway to a large goal. I gave it a go:
|Jeremy went to his small closet and carefully got down a hard-shell suitcase. The other residents at the assisted living facility were twice Jeremy’s age, but he was still going to miss them. Later today he would be moving into hospice.
His intention was to pack following lunch, since his energy had been flagging lately. At least the back of his head only throbbed lightly nowadays; the stronger pain medication was doing wonders – gone were the days of eye-squinching, fetal position headaches, although he really had problems maintaining his focus.
In the suitcase Jeremy made a base of socks and underwear from his top drawer, and then added pants on top of them. The changing pictures of the digital photo frame on the dresser caught his attention, and he picked it up just as an image of a cocker spaniel appeared. He heard from the adoption center that Clara was in good hands now; she was the closest thing he had to family. Jeremy turned off the frame and placed it carefully into the suitcase, then without thought climbed onto the bed for a short respite.
The afternoon on-duty nurse knocked lightly before entering the room, smiled, and walked over to the bedside where he carefully moved the half-filled suitcase off the foot of the bed to the chair nearby. As he fixed the man’s upturned collar, the nurse stiffened, then quickly felt for a pulse. He paged the front desk, confirming the D.N.R. order, and the doctor on call was notified.
The nurse’s smile returned, sadder now, and he rubbed away some moisture from his left eye with the back of his hand, smoothing out Jeremy’s half-opened jacket. Waiting as footsteps partway way down the hallway approached, he gently lowered the suitcase lid.
The judges’ comments:
K: This is an oddly comforting little story. I thought I was going to be distraught by the unknown as Jeremy left the building, but I enjoy that this story closed the book on his life, and did it with class and dignity. I could stand to go that way. SILVER
P: The tone set here is good. The small parts, like the digital photo frame are done with care, and the implied tragedy of only getting to life half the life is haunting. This story did a good job of weaving the half filled suitcase into the overall narrative. GOLD
More bling! So now, where does that leave things? STANDINGS
- I wanted to do something with a little more emotional impact this time around. I think I did that.
- My idea came while choosing music videos for WGOM, where I was the VJ for the week; my muse was Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill“, and the ending was inspired by the ending of a story I remember from HS English class, “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” by Katherine Anne Porter.
- Besides the half-packed suitcase, I threw in a lot of other half references: half the residents’ ages, waiting half the day to start packing, half-opened jacket, halfways down the hallway…
We’ve already got our marching orders for the next challenge — hopefully I choose wisely…