32nd Day – Speakeasy #143

This is not the photo prompt.  It is a photo I had of a similar flower.
This is not the photo prompt. It is a photo I had of a similar flower.

There was a loud crash in the hallway as I stumbled over a cart that had been left outside my door.  Water dripped from the hem of my ankle-length nightshirt, my feet sliding on the linoleum as panic seized me again.  I slipped and grasped at air until I landed on the floor with a thud.  Breath knocked out of me, I tried to inhale enough to scream.  I didn’t need to; Nurse Hutchinson ran down the hall towards me.

“My lands, Myra!  What on earth?”  She hooked her arms under me and pulled me up.  She saw the puddle on the floor and grabbed the radio at her waist.  “Anna, we need new linens in room 213, and a mop in the hallway.  Myra Brandon soiled herself again.”

“No,” I gasped.  “I didn’t soil myself.”  The fact they thought it made me ashamed.

“Shhh… it’s okay, sweetie.  It happens all the time.”  She led me back into my room.

I shivered when I saw the painting again.  I tried to retreat, but Mrs. Hutchinson packed a lot of power into her five-foot-two-inch frame.

“Myra, come on.  It’s three in the morning and I don’t want the others to wake.”

I understood.  Sylvia, Roberta and Tina resided in the room next door.  They all shared the same body and were varying shades of mean.  Across the hall, Catherine Winters steeled herself against the voices that never slept.  On the other side of me, Evelyn cleaned during most of her waking hours that weren’t spent in therapy sessions with Dr. Akins.  And then there was me.  I didn’t belong here.  I’m not crazy.

Nurse Hutchinson and the aide, Anna, dressed me and changed my bed.  Together, they placed me back under the covers.  My eyes settled on the painting, titled 32nd Day, while my body remained in a catatonic state.  Thoughts and words ricocheted in my mind, but none found the way to my mouth.

I wanted to explain that a demon lived beyond the stream and every night, he beckoned me to join him in paradise.  Sometimes I could resist and he’d go away, but most times my feet followed against my will and I couldn’t escape his grasp. Each time, he took me farther down the stream where the clouds became grayer, the grass browner, and the stench of rotting fish wafted from water.

The first time it happened, only days after I bought the art from an estate sale just over a month ago, my voice hadn’t stranded me, so I told my husband.  He freaked out and got me a room on the second floor of the psych ward.  I think he sent the painting with me because a part of him feared I might be sane.  And a part of me hoped the painting would be returned to him upon my death so he would join me.

The women finished tidying my room and flipped the light off as they exited.  I wished I could tell them to leave it on.  I closed my eyes and smelled the sweet aroma of hibiscus.  I uncurled my fingers and saw a crushed pink hibiscus flower.  I tried to scream, but a force outside of me pressed against my chest.  The weight grew stronger.  I struggled to breathe.

I jerked my head to the right and caught sight of the tick marks I’d made on the wall after each journey into the false paradise.  Illuminated by the nightlight beneath them, I counted each black line.  Tonight made thirty-two.  The significance of the painting’s title occurred to me.

Everything went black.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

This bizarre tale was written in response to the Speakeasy weekly fiction challenge, which is to write a piece in 750 words or less, (1) using “There was a loud crash in the hallway.” as the first sentence, and (2) making some reference to the photo prompt, of a hibiscus flower floating in a stream.

The challenge is open to anyone, so if  you’re interested, click the badge below to check it out!

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51 thoughts on “32nd Day – Speakeasy #143

  1. ImeldaI January 5, 2014 / 9:53 AM

    Another well written piece, Janna. I feel sorry for Myra. I hope she can pull through.

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2014 / 7:36 PM

      Me too, Imelda! How frustrating it would be to be in her position.

  2. nrhatch January 5, 2014 / 12:19 PM

    The line between sanity and insanity is often blurred by our differing perspectives on things. Well done.

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2014 / 7:37 PM

      Very true, Nancy. Thanks so much for reading!

  3. Lala Rukh January 5, 2014 / 1:05 PM

    This is not at all a bizarre story Janna it is great ! I love the details you give in each scene that makes it more interesting and easy to visualize. I sometimes feel like Myra with a difference that I am not in a psych ward……. The story was amazing and scary too in a way. Great attempt ! 🙂 xx

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2014 / 7:43 PM

      Your comment touches on where my mind was at when I wrote this. Sometimes I wonder if the insane are really insane or if they are misunderstood. Maybe some are even the enlightened ones. In this case, Myra could be “crazy” and imagining the whole terrifying thing, or, she could really be the target of a demon that others can’t (or won’t) see.

      Anyway, I majored in Psychology in college, so matters of the mind fascinate me. Thanks so much for taking time to read it, Lala!

      • Lala Rukh January 6, 2014 / 4:12 PM

        You are absolutely right Janna !
        Are you a psychologist ? And now I know why your writing have a deep effect on us 🙂 You can read our minds, No ? 🙂 Love xx

        • jannatwrites January 6, 2014 / 6:39 PM

          Oh no, I’m definitely not a psychologist. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but that’s it! Still find matters of the mind fascinating, though 🙂 I’m terrible at reading minds, too. (My husband can attest to this!)

        • Lala Rukh January 7, 2014 / 8:26 AM

          I find them fascinating too as I am a psycho myself 😛 Haha may be you are, but I your husband is so lucky that he got you 🙂 Love you xx

        • jannatwrites January 7, 2014 / 8:41 AM

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m psycho (or at least a little off kilter 🙂 )

        • Lala Rukh January 7, 2014 / 8:46 AM

          Lol no I was talking about myself 😛

        • jannatwrites January 7, 2014 / 8:58 AM

          I think it works for me, too 🙂

        • Lala Rukh January 7, 2014 / 9:11 AM

          🙂 xx

  4. Diane Turner January 5, 2014 / 4:05 PM

    Poor Myra! I’m rooting for her. Your writing is excellent – visual and laden with tension. Thanks for sharing.

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2014 / 7:44 PM

      Thanks so much for reading, Diane – I’m glad you liked the story!

  5. Kathy Combs (@Kathy29156) January 5, 2014 / 6:49 PM

    Poor Myra. I felt sorry and scared for her. Bless her heart. Brilliant piece of story telling. ♥

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2014 / 7:44 PM

      It would be terrifying, Kathy. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 5, 2014 / 11:50 PM

      Thanks, Widdershins! Appreciate you stopping by 🙂

  6. Sean January 6, 2014 / 10:32 AM

    That was well done. You do have a knack for bringing the mysterious and creepy to a nice level. I’m sure there may be a mystery/horror story in the future. thanks.

    • jannatwrites January 6, 2014 / 6:29 PM

      Thanks, Sean! I’m glad you think I can do creepy 🙂 Sometimes those stories just happen, but I don’t think they are quite my strong suit.

  7. Laith January 7, 2014 / 10:32 AM

    Wonderfully done. I love it.

  8. ranu802 January 7, 2014 / 3:30 PM

    Wow, Janna I loved your story.

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2014 / 10:03 PM

      I’m glad you liked the story, Ranu – thanks for taking time to read it!

  9. Rachel January 7, 2014 / 10:00 PM

    Very cool, right down to the descriptions of other residents. I’m curious about Sylvia/Roberta/Tina!

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2014 / 10:04 PM

      Haha, that trio could probably occupy their own story 🙂 Thanks for reading, Rachel!

  10. znjavid January 7, 2014 / 10:05 PM

    That was amazingly visual writing. Well done! By the way did you know that your name Janna with a T or Jannat means heaven in my language? 🙂 Best wishes, Zainab

    • jannatwrites January 7, 2014 / 10:15 PM

      Thank you so much, Znjavid! I appreciate you taking time to read and comment 🙂

      I didn’t know that about my name- glad you shared that!

  11. Cynthia Rodrigues Manchekar January 7, 2014 / 11:11 PM

    Wow! Your story illustrates one very important fact. The insane may be very sane to themselves. In other words, every other person might well think us insane too.
    I love the way you brought out the little details of the psych ward. The way you introduced the other inmates especially. Before that, I just thought she was in a home for the aged or something. And that husband was a mean touch.
    Great going, Janna.

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2014 / 8:32 PM

      Sanity is very subjective. And Myra might not be crazy…maybe she sees a reality that the others can’t. I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Cynthia. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  12. rubyemz January 8, 2014 / 6:26 AM

    Pfft. Typical man 😛 Haha . . . So many good stories to be had from a mental asylum, another to add to the collection 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2014 / 8:34 PM

      😀 I’m sure there are an infinite number of stories. I wouldn’t want to experience them, firsthand, though!

  13. EagleAye January 8, 2014 / 11:31 AM

    Ooh, that is just chilling! You really built up sympathy for the character with her story. I could visualize it all easily. And the ending with 32 tick marks was the final punch in the gut. You really drew me in with this excellent story!

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2014 / 8:47 PM

      I’m glad to find it kept your interest, EagleAye! This was my second attempt with the prompt, so I was beginning to wonder if I could pull anything together for this one 🙂

      • EagleAye January 8, 2014 / 10:22 PM

        Sometimes it goes like that. My piece took hours longer than I expected with all the rewrites. Certainly yours was worth the effort and it turned out terrific.

        • jannatwrites January 8, 2014 / 11:43 PM

          Thanks, EagleAye! I have to say your story was worth the effort, too. It’s got one of my votes 🙂

  14. Sandra January 8, 2014 / 1:59 PM

    You are such an artist at showing, not telling. This was fantastic. Each revelation brings the story to final completion. I really enjoyed this!

    • jannatwrites January 8, 2014 / 8:50 PM

      Thanks so much, Sandra! I’m glad you liked the story 🙂

  15. jenbrunett January 9, 2014 / 8:02 AM

    ooh, eeeeeerie. Love it!

    • jannatwrites January 9, 2014 / 8:17 PM

      Thanks, Jen! Glad you liked the creepy 🙂

  16. Suzanne January 9, 2014 / 11:31 AM

    Yikes! Poor Myra. Too bad she can’t ask the nurses to send the painting back to her husband. This is a great story, Janna – so creepy and so creative! 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 9, 2014 / 8:17 PM

      That would be funny to send it to him sooner than later, Suzanne 🙂

  17. pattisj January 11, 2014 / 10:55 PM

    Very descriptive writing, I felt the thud as she hit the floor, grasping for the same air. I wonder what happens on day 33?

    • jannatwrites January 12, 2014 / 9:43 PM

      Day 33…that is a good question, Patti. I’ll leave that for readers to imagine! Thanks so much for reading 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 12, 2014 / 9:44 PM

      Wow, thanks, Ted! I appreciate you taking time to read my story.

  18. mandyblake95 January 15, 2014 / 7:36 AM

    I’m just now catching up on some of my reading, but it is obvious why this won. Great job Janna, this was terrificly creepy.

    • jannatwrites January 15, 2014 / 10:54 PM

      Thanks for taking time to read it, Mandy! I’m glad you enjoyed the story 🙂

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