This one is in response to Friday Flash Challenge prompt Twist and in response to Writing 101 one word prompt Regret
Prompts come in many different forms. Sometimes, a single word is all you need to get your mind’s wheels turning. Here are six words:
Select one word in this list that speaks to you in some way. Have you always wanted to write about that wrong decision you made? Are you a long-term traveler looking for the right city to settle? Do you want to write a poem about your relationship?
The beauty of the one-word prompt is that it’s open to interpretation. What do you think of when you hear this word? What do you see? This word is simply the seed for your post: feel free to shape your idea as you see fit.
If you like these one-word prompts, consider a Prompt Box: an offline well of inspiration that you can draw from on a rainy day. Writer Andrea Badgley keeps prompts on slips of paper in a Chinese tea tin; I use an old jewelry box I once bought from a market in Italy. In whatever vessel you choose, add slips of paper with single words, as we’ve practiced here. Short phrases work well, too.
Cheri and the WordPress.com Team
I scrub my hands trying to get it off but it won’t go away. It sticks. What happened? Why are there people in my room?
“Allison?” I look up; the woman seems nice. She has a soothing voice. “My name’s Amy. Can I come in?”
No. Yes. Maybe. Why? The only way out’s the window. I can’t jump; it’s too high. But I want to jump.
“It’s ok Allie. Can I call you Allie?” I don’t know. Only mum calls me Allie. “They won’t come in.”
She kneels and crawls towards me. She looks like Misty when she’s innocently trying to grab our food. She isn’t threatening. And when she looks at them, the men leave.
“Can you tell me what happened?”
She points at my bloody hands, at the knife between my crossed legs. But I don’t know. I don’t remember. I just recall waking up because of Misty’s barking and the screams. So much fear. The woman takes my hand.
“It’s ok. Don’t worry.”
“I don’t know. How’s my mom? Jason?” Somehow I know the answer, but I don’t know why. Amy looks sad.
“I’m sorry Allie. Your mom and brother… they’re gone.”
Another scream in the room. Mine. And tears. I haven’t cried in a long time. What did I do? There are arms around me. Amy’s hugging me. Why? I push her away.
“My stepdad’s daughter.” I correct.
“We don’t know yet.”
“She can’t come here. She can’t see this.”
“She won’t. But you need to go with the medics. In case you’re hurt.”
I’m not hurt, merely groggy, confused. My meds do that to me. They take me away nonetheless. They think I killed them. Did I? It’s possible. I guess. But I haven’t gone off my medication. I know what can happen if I do. I don’t understand.
“You’ll feel a slight pinch Allison.” What? Oh, the needle. I don’t. Tests, meds I’ve had those for half my life. The medic looks at me. “Do you take drugs Allison?”
Aren’t medications are legal drugs? I shrug.
“I’ve been on a bunch since I was 12. Prolixin. Clorazil. Zyprexa.”
“You were diagnosed with schizophrenia at 12? How old are you?” He seems surprised and doubtful.
“24…” I need to explain. “At first they thought it was bipolar disorder.”
“You don’t have to explain. It’s ok.” It’s obviously not ok. But I don’t know.
At the hospital they run tests; more needles, more scans. I’ve had those. Elsewhere. But definitely not with a cop by my side at all times. When he handcuffs me to the bed it hits me. I killed my mom and brother. But I wouldn’t have done that. I couldn’t have. I loved them. Even in an episode, I could never hurt my mom or Jason, even though they were blind. I never did.
My stepdad? That’s another matter. I’ve imagined killing him many times. I tried, which got me in a ward for 6 months when I was 13. But I don’t remember it. I’m glad he is gone. At least, he won’t hurt Jenny. Where’s she? I thought she was supposed to spend the morning with mom and Jason. Or maybe she was at Stacy’s for that pyjama party she’s been talking about for 3 weeks. Did I try to hurt Franck and lose it? Could I truly have done that to mom and Jason? I’m not sure. What if I did?
“Hey Allie.” There she is again, Amy. She thankfully interrupts my spinning mind. She’s a cop obviously. “How are you?”
“I don’t know. You seem to think I killed people I love. Have you found Jenny?”
“We have. She wants to see you.”
Jenny enters, also in a hospital gown, tears marking her face, sorrow and anger in her eyes. It’s there sometimes when she can’t do or have what she wants.
“Hey sweetie pie.” I attempt. But she doesn’t answer with her usual Alley cat.
“They’re gone.” She runs towards me. Her weight catches me off. I fall against the bed.
“I know baby girl. I’m sorry.”
She doesn’t answer, but tears wet my hospital gown.
“You’re not going too?” She asks sobbing. Her hair under my hand is unruly. She didn’t brush her hair. Where did they find her?
“I don’t know sweetie. That won’t be my choice I think.”
I never lie to Jenny. Almost. Not on important matters, except one. She pushes me away angrily.
“You can’t go. What about me? I need you.”
“And I you darling. But… it’s complicated. You know I’m not well.”
“I want to be with you. Nobody else.”
She’s getting upset and I don’t know if I can deal with a full tantrum. I’m too close to breaking down. A nurse comes in and gently pries her away from me. Or tries. Because Jenny starts screaming until a doctor comes to sedate her.
When they’re gone, Detective Amy asks.
“So Allie, does Jenny know you’re her mother?”
“What? No! She…”
“You said she’s your stepdad’s daughter. All your neighbours believe she’s your sister. Except Damian Sheffield. He calls your stepfather a monster. Seeing how drugged up you’ve been for years I tend to believe him.”
“Schizophrenia? A child of 12. Almost unheard of. Your meds were filled with GHB. We’re running more tests on you two.”
“You can’t tell her. She’s only 11. Mom raised her as her own. Nobody knew.” She looks at me doubtful. “It’s true. My mom didn’t know she’s Franck’s daughter. He convinced her I slept with guys from school, that I needed help. Since she couldn’t have more kids, she pretended Jenny was hers. You can’t tell Jenny.”
“Allie, we don’t need to. She knows. She killed them. Put the knife in your hands. You’re not sick but she is.”
“She’s just a kid.” It hurts so much. Regret. “I wish I killed Franck before.”
“We’ll get her help. But Allie…”
He’s destroyed our lives.