The Things we Lose in the Forgetting

Submitted for Contest #64 in response to: Write a romance that involves one partner saving the other from a fire.... view prompt

96 comments

Oct 21, 2020

Drama Mystery Suspense

“Can I get you anything?” the interviewer asked, putting on a pair of thick-rimmed glasses. “Something to drink, perhaps?”


“No, thank you. I’m fine.” John answered. 


“Alright, shall we begin then?” 


John nodded, pulled the blanket draped over his back tighter around his body.


“So when did you first notice the fire?”


“Uh, it was around 2:30 in the morning.”


“And you were in the house at the time?”


“Yes.” 


“As was your wife, correct?”


“Yes,” John answered, shifting in his seat. “Do you know when I’ll be able to see her?”


“Tell me,” the interviewer continued, “Where were you when you noticed the fire?”


John glanced around the hospital room. He watched as doctors walked past, clipboards in hand. He wanted to see his wife but knew that he needed to finish answering the questions first. “Um, I was downstairs. I was watching the stock market news for the next morning. I don’t sleep well. I usually leave the bed if I start tossing and turning too much; so that I don’t wake Scarlett.”


“Right,” the interviewer wrote something on a notepad. “And your wife?”


John stared blankly at the interviewer. Did he not just hear him?  “She was in bed.”


“On the second floor?”


“Yes.”


“And the fire, where did it start?”


“I first saw smoke coming from the garage,” John answered, thinking back to the incident that felt almost like a distant memory at this point. “It filled the kitchen and by the time I had entered to refill my cup of coffee it was so thick you couldn’t see your hands in front of your face.”


“Is this when you called 911?” The interviewer gazed into John’s eyes. Determined to see what laid behind those windows. 


“No.”


“Why not?” 


“I wanted to make sure Scar was safe.” John held back emotions. He felt tested by this man for some reason. As if he didn’t believe him. “Where’s my wife? I’d like to see her now.”


John moved to get up out of his seat. 


“Please,” the interviewer said, holding a hand out towards John. “I have only a few more questions.”


“And then I can see my wife?”


The interviewer didn’t answer. Rather, he tilted his head and made a stronger gesture towards the chair, insisting that John take a seat.


John did and the interview continued. 


“What happened next?” the interviewer asked. 


“Well, once I saw the smoke filling the kitchen everything else happened pretty quickly.” John thought back through the foggy haze that cluttered his mind.


Why was it so hard to remember what happened only hours before?


“When did you first see the fire?”


“When I went up the stairs to the bedroom.” John squeezed his body with the blanket. “It had eaten through the floor of the guest room. It’s right above the garage.”


“Where did you go next?”


“I’m sorry,” John interrupted. “Am I in trouble or something? Cause—”


“Of course not, Mr. Harper. We just want to understand what happened that night.”


“Last night.”


“Right,” The interviewer flashed John a forgive-me smile. “Please, continue. Where did you go next?”


“I,” John paused, thought hard. “I went into the bedroom to wake Scarlett.”


“Who was still asleep?”


“Yes.”


“You’re sure?”


“Yes. Why would I not be sure?” John asked a fire sparked in his words. 


“Just doing my due diligence, Mr. Harper. After you entered the bedroom, you woke your wife?”


“Yes.”


“And was there any fire in the room at that point?”


“No.”


“Are you positive?”


John thought. He pictured the room. Him standing over Scarlett, shaking her from her slumber. The room was dark. No sign of fire. “Positive. I woke her and pulled her out of bed. Then we ran out of the house. That’s it. Now can I see—”


“When you came down the stairs, did you notice whether the fire had spread?”


John eyed the interviewer. What was he getting at?


“No.”


“Think,” the interviewer prodded. “You must have noticed that by the time you came to the stairs that the entire stairwell was engulfed. That the first floor had almost entirely been consumed in the flames. Where did you go next?”


“I just told you,” John said, nervous to give so much confidence behind his own words. “We ran down the stairs and out the front door. Ask Scarlett. She’d tell you the same thing.”


“Do you remember get—”


“Did you ask her yet?” John interrupted. “Where is she now? I’d like to see her.”


“Mr. Harper, please—”


Now!” John’s patience had been tried. He rose from his seat, letting the blanket fall from his shoulders, and moved to the door. 


“Mr. Harper, please,” the interviewer called from behind. 

John ignored him. 


“Donovan,” the interviewer said and a man appeared in the doorway. He was a big, muscular man wearing scrubs like the rest of the hospital staff. 


“What’s this all about?” John asked, his feet frozen in place.


“We just need to ask a few more questions if you don’t mind Mr. Harper.” 


“Do I have a choice?” John asked, eyes darting back and forth between Donavan and the interviewer. 


“Of course you do,” the interviewer answered. “We have but a few more questions to go over.”


John paused for a moment. Then turned around and sat back down in the chair, leaving the blanket on the floor. 


“Thank you, Mr. Harper.” the interviewer said and continued. “You said you came down the stairs with your wife and fled through the front door, correct?”


“That is correct.”


“Then you called the police?”


“No.”


“Why not?”


“The neighbor across the street was already out. She met with us and said she had already called.”


“Mrs.,” he paused and flipped through a few pages on his notepad, “Jeannet Walker.”


“Yes.”


“It appears we have some testimony from her as well,” the interviewer said, keeping his eyes glued to the pages of his notebook. “Says here, that she didn’t see you and Scarlett come through the front door. In fact, said nothing about seeing Scarlett at all. With or without you.”


John became mute. He didn’t know how to respond to the interviewer. He felt the conversation increasingly grow more and more hostile. He didn’t know what to do. What to say. How to feel. Where to go. He felt trapped, cornered. But why? He had just gone through the most traumatic event of his life and here he was being questioned as if he was some sort of criminal suspect. 


Then John found the words he knew he needed right now but didn’t want to say, “I’d like to speak with my lawyer.”


“No need for that,” the interviewer brushed his request aside.


“Listen, Mr. Harper, I’m sorry that you went through this, I really am. But you need to—”


Just at that moment John shot up from his seat and bolted for the door, hoping that he could slip past Donavan before he could stop him.

He couldn’t.

Like a brick wall standing in front of John, his run was stopped hard in its place. Donavan wrapped John with his beefy arms and pulled him back towards the chair setting him down with a thud. He pressed firmly down letting John know that he wasn’t going anywhere. 


“Listen, John, “the interviewer became loose. “we don’t have any time left. You either have to work with me or this is over.”

John squirmed in Donavan’s strong arms, said “Where’s my wife? I want to see her now! You don’t get another word from me until then.”


The interviewer took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and said, “your wife,” he let out a sigh, “she didn’t make it, John.” The words stabbed John. 


“You’re lying,” John said in protest. “That’s not true. I—I saved her.”


“No John, you didn’t,” the interviewer slipped his glasses back on. He looked John in the eyes, “You only think you did. You’ve had a psychotic breakdown. You believe you saved her, but in reality, you didn’t.”


“No,” John said, fighting against the words, fighting against Donavan’s hold, fighting against the building emotions threatening to tear him apart. “That’s not true, I did save her! She's fine. She's gonna be fine.” John spun towards the door, “Scar! Scarlett, honey can you hear me? Please, please tell them you’re okay.”


The interviewer lifted from his seat, came over, and cradled John’s head in his hands, “You weren’t able to save her, and it’s okay. You can accept that.”


“I can’t, I—”


“You must,” the interviewer said, John’s tears flowing over his hands. 


“No. No, it’s not true. Last night—”


“John,” the interviewer's grip tightened, aligned John’s head to his gaze. “It happened two years ago. You tried to save her. You did. You have to come to terms and accept that it is a reality. Please, John, accept it.”


John sobbed, Donavan, released his grip allowing John to fall into the surprising embrace of the interviewer. 


“I can’t,” John cried into the interviewer's coat. “I can’t live without her. She can’t be gone. She just can’t...”


“I know,” the interviewer said, rubbing John’s back. He turned his head to the door, and said, “End simulation four-three-oh-two.” 

The walls vanished around John replaced by white walls and white furniture. The man that held John wore all white and his skin was painted all white. The man that stood behind him also wore all white and had his skin painted completely white. 


The interviewer released John from his embrace, stood swatting at his pant legs, and said, “Don’t worry, John. We’ll get her out of your head sooner or later, even if it’s the last thing I do. Just hang in there.“


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96 comments

Nunya Business
21:03 Oct 21, 2020

Want me to upvote you

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Jessy Glazewski
21:04 Oct 21, 2020

How does that work? Are you referring to the story? Or a comment?

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Nunya Business
21:06 Oct 21, 2020

You get extra karma points

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Jessy Glazewski
21:07 Oct 21, 2020

Sure, if you want to! I'd be happy with an upvote!

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Nunya Business
21:11 Oct 21, 2020

Ok I did

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Nunya Business
21:10 Oct 21, 2020

If you go to someone’s comments there is a up arrow and a down arrow if you want them to get points then you hit the up arrow if you want them to lose points then you hit down arrow

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Jessy Glazewski
21:15 Oct 21, 2020

Got it! Thanks for the help! I just started my account yesterday...

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Nunya Business
21:16 Oct 21, 2020

You did well I hope you have a nice experience on reedsy

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Princemark Okibe
07:10 Oct 27, 2020

Nice twist at the end, turning the whole interview situation into a simulation. I was wondering if the white that was on everything, including the interviewer acts like a green screen? Here is the singular edit I have. This dialogue [“Last night.”] Should have a question mark as I feel it is question asking for confirmation. It should be [“Last night?”] Keep writing. Seems you love sci fi like me.

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Jessy Glazewski
19:21 Oct 27, 2020

Thanks for your comments! I'm glad you enjoyed the read. With the quote "Last night." John was correcting the interviewer. In his mind, he knew the statement to be correct and was stating rather than asking. I realize that this distinction is subtle, and I even thought about just making it a question, but I wanted to give the impression that John was certain of his convictions, even when they contradicted what the interviewer was saying.

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Zea Bowman
13:20 Oct 27, 2020

Wow...I'm speechless. About halfway through the story, I was like, "Oh no..." I realized what was going to happen before I read it, and yet I kept reading. The way you wrote this story was beautifully done and amazingly written. Keep it up.

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Jessy Glazewski
19:22 Oct 27, 2020

Thanks! I appreciate your kind words! I hope you will check out some of my other stories here on Reedsy. I try to post 2-3 new stories each week.

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Zea Bowman
19:55 Oct 27, 2020

Of course! And welcome to Reedsy! :)

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Jessy Glazewski
21:07 Oct 30, 2020

Two new stories out now! "How to Disappear in 3 Easy Steps" and "Beginner's Luck".

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Rene Lumnos
02:18 Oct 27, 2020

Oooh. Very good. I worry sometimes about making a story too dialogue-heavy, but this is great. I've just started out on Reedsy, and this makes me more confident to try that myself. I wonder if a lot of your writing is like this. Have you considered writing screenplays?

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Jessy Glazewski
19:19 Oct 27, 2020

My writing varies from project to project, but I do enjoy the challenges as well as the advantages that a dialogue-heavy story gives the writer. Most of my writing will have at least some dialogue in it at some point and to some extent. I have never actually considered writing screenplays, but I wouldn't say that it was completely out of the scope of the possible...

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Charles Stucker
20:20 Oct 21, 2020

“Donovan,” the interview said - interviewer Fifty shades of Total Recall... Clever, leaving off the sci-fi tag so we never suspect we're in a VR world. Of course, we're getting close enough I won't be Sci-fi in a very short while. This worked, and well, but the "You're in a simulation" meme has been done to cliché.

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Jessy Glazewski
20:42 Oct 21, 2020

Too true about the story not being Sci-fi for much longer... Thank you for your comments and feedback, and the great catch with the interview(er). I agree with the over-use of the whole 'simulation' bit, but by the time I reached the end of the story (which sort of took on a life of its own), I realized that the interviewer and John had some sort of connection beyond the professional and the simulator cliche just kind of rolled in and made itself at home.

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K Lewis
20:05 Oct 21, 2020

This was really good - the feeling that something was off was strong throughout, and I loved John's increasing desperation as the interview goes on. One tip - you use a lot of dialogue tags, which creates a lot of telling rather than showing. Try to stick to "said" (if anything at all) as much as possible and let your skill do the work for the rest of it.

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Jessy Glazewski
20:54 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you for your feedback and tip! I appreciate it. I was really trying to keep the dialogue tags to a minimum because I felt that part of what gave the scene a sort of suspenseful atmosphere was the quick back and forth between the interviewer and John. I left in a few of them if I felt that the ambiance of the room needed to come through a bit.

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Dalyane Deblois
18:53 Oct 21, 2020

Great story. Amazing plot and twist at the end. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't wait to see what happened. Great job, keep writing!:)

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Jessy Glazewski
20:55 Oct 21, 2020

Thanks for your comment! I'm glad you liked my writing. I hope to be posting on here a lot now that I know about it!!

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B. W.
18:00 Oct 21, 2020

Okay, this was honestly a really good story and i like what you did for the prompt, it was really interesting ^^ keep writing. 10/10 :)

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Jessy Glazewski
18:04 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you! It was really interesting to write and in fact, the ending I had in mind ended up not becoming the actual ending. In a way, the story wrote itself as I typed!

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B. W.
18:10 Oct 21, 2020

No prob ^^

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B. W.
18:11 Oct 21, 2020

No prob ^^

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Jessy Glazewski
20:12 Oct 27, 2020

New story uploaded! iWitch. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Jessy Glazewski
21:07 Oct 30, 2020

Two new stories out now! "How to Disappear in 3 Easy Steps" and "Beginner's Luck".

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Star Blight
16:31 Oct 27, 2020

I like how descriptive you are I am a writer too but I don't think I can that descriptive I'm only 12 and 3/4 I use to have an old account but I lost that one and now I have to restart but, I wish you good luck on reedsy it's tough for me to think of many ideas but I hope you will continue writing storys that inspires me to write my next story

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Jessy Glazewski
16:43 Oct 27, 2020

Don't give up on writing! It takes lots and lots of practice. I'm 31 years old, and if I would have started at 12 like you, I bet I would have been even better than I am now. I look forward to reading your stories and seeing you grow your skills here on Reedsy!

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Star Blight
16:49 Oct 27, 2020

Thank you!

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Jessy Glazewski
19:53 Feb 03, 2021

My Debut ya novel, Ascension, is available now for purchase and kindle unlimited free download on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08STSPRGM Thank you all for your support!

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Echo Sundar
01:03 Oct 27, 2020

Wow this story is absolutely amazing!!

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Jessy Glazewski
19:17 Oct 27, 2020

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Manan Suraiya
16:29 Oct 26, 2020

Oof! Simulation theory 101. I loved the pacing. It is short, crisp and heightens conflict. Beautiful job! Check out my stories as well. I would love your feedback!

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Manan Suraiya
18:12 Oct 26, 2020

Yup. Screams, Hunter and Crimson Eye in particular. I'll read yours as well in a while!🙂

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Jessy Glazewski
16:59 Oct 26, 2020

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it! I'd be more than happy to check out your stories! Any in particular you'd like me to start with?

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Gabby Sirmans
12:24 Oct 26, 2020

this is good i liked it

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Jessy Glazewski
16:14 Oct 26, 2020

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Rayhan Hidayat
08:34 Oct 26, 2020

Very gripping read. Really had me convinced that he started the fire. I wish there was more to the simulation bit. Awesome read overall 😙

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Jessy Glazewski
16:17 Oct 26, 2020

Thanks! I knew once I was going to have a simulation be apart of the story I didn't want it to be the main focus of the story, since the whole VR "you're in a simulation" has been done to death. I wanted it to be layered in with a bunch of different aspects. I'm glad you enjoyed the read!

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Anna Elizabeth
04:27 Oct 26, 2020

This is a really interesting take on the prompt and it really holds your reader's attention. A story like this might benefit from being in present tense rather than past tense. In present tense you get added tension from the story feeling like it's happening right now rather than past tense which lets know the reader that the situation is already over. Very well done, I'm excited to see what you do next!

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Jessy Glazewski
16:18 Oct 26, 2020

You're totally right!!! Agh! If only I had thought of that earlier! The first-person point of view would have for sure given the story that dark, intimate feeling I was going for overall. Thanks for your comments!

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Jessy Glazewski
20:13 Oct 27, 2020

New story uploaded! iWitch. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Zan Lexus
14:28 Oct 23, 2020

This was very good. Had me wondering and guessing until the end. At one point, I thought John had started the fire. Only thing, and this is more of a personal preference, I would have like a name for the interviewer. Would have made the interaction run smoother. The simulation thing is pretty common, but I think you added another dimension to it with the realization of mental illness at the same time. Overall though, I really liked it. ^_^

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Jessy Glazewski
15:49 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you for your comments! I had the same feeling at some points about the interviewer’s name but ended up not adding it because I wanted to create a very cold, disconnected feeling between John and, well, the interviewer.

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Zan Lexus
16:40 Oct 24, 2020

You're welcome. Ah, so using, 'the interviewer' was a stylistic choice. That makes sense. I just run into a lot of short stories where people use vague descriptors like that, or just 'him/her' all the time, and it seems like they do it just because they don't want to come up with names. I guess your reason was a bit different, so it makes sense in the context of the story. ^_^

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04:29 Oct 23, 2020

Ooooh! At first, I was just enjoying the dialogue (I'm in awe that you write it so well) .. and then you go and twist the story where I'm not expecting! I'm seriously impressed! Thanks for this one :-)

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Jessy Glazewski
15:50 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you so mi Co for your feedback! I feel like I really struggle with dialogue usually so I really pushed myself on this one to create really authentic sounding dialogue.

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05:53 Oct 26, 2020

You did a great job! I have just attempted dialogue, thanks to your inspiration. It's in "The Emperor of Our Nation" (a ghost story, set in the White House). You might not want to read it if you're a fan of the current president (though he's not named, it could be taken that way) ... feel free to take a look if you like :-)

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Jessy Glazewski
16:13 Oct 26, 2020

Very cool! I'm glad that I inspired you to take on some dialogue writing! The only way we'll get better is by trying, right? I'm gonna go over and read it after I catch up on some replies!!

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Evan Rocker
00:56 Oct 23, 2020

Great story. I didn't expect the end because I was lost in your great dialogue!

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Jessy Glazewski
15:51 Oct 24, 2020

Thanks! I usually struggle with dialogue writing in my full length novels, but I pushed myself to get this dialogue to be as close to real life as possible. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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17:43 Oct 22, 2020

Good story, the twist at the end felt very believable, and the way the story unfolded through the protagonist's confusion was interesting to read.

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Jessy Glazewski
18:17 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you! The fun part about the story was that the twist that came at the end, was actually a twist for me too. It sort of wrote itself!

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Aafia Hanya
17:16 Oct 22, 2020

❤❤❤❤😭😭 woah man, beautiful and sad.

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Jessy Glazewski
18:17 Oct 22, 2020

Thanks! I'm glad you liked the story!

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14:59 Oct 22, 2020

Wow! Awesome ending!

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Jessy Glazewski
16:37 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it! The ending actually surprised me too! I love it when our writing lives a life of its own!

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18:01 Oct 22, 2020

Me too!

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