Suspense Speculative Fiction

1 January

I remember putting your photograph carefully back in its frame, I remember leaving, the injection, nothing much else.

They told me, when I came round, that you had to bring me back here because I’ve been imagining things again.

I felt sure I spoke no words at all, mother, but you were good enough to explain the whole dreadful scene to the doctors, to tell them all the odd things I’ve been saying, how I imagined there was something written on the back of that picture, my own name indeed.

How typical that was of me, of the ridiculous and egotistical contrivances this illness of mine drives me to concoct.

I’m so sorry to have troubled you once again with my stories, mother. 

I know you are right. I know this is for the best.


7 January

Veni, vidi, destitui.

I came, I saw, I abandoned. That will make a good title, I think, for my memoirs.

Destituere means everything I need it to, mother, it means to abandon or forsake, to disappoint or let down, to fail or give up. Not quite the opposite of conquering, no, something weaker again, more cowardly.

I will dedicate them to you, mother, a poor repayment for all you've done to help me, for all of the failures and disappointments I've forced you to endure.


10 January

I wrote my first paragraph today, but I found it too melodramatic and, as you quite rightly asked yesterday, who would read the memoirs of an insane nobody?

What I wrote was this:

There is no conqueror in me, nor is there any honour, no courage, no pride, no self-satisfaction, only the sentiment that I tried, I tried and failed and walked away, for that’s just what inadequate and broken people do.

Bunkum. You see how bad it has become? They say they may need to isolate me, for my own wellbeing. They thought, mother, that what I wrote in my embryonic memoir was indicative of suicidal ideation. They say it is unhealthy. Not so, I said. There is nothing more healthy, more life-giving, than truth.

I fear you won’t see me again, mother. For this I am truly sorry. I know you need me. I know exactly what kind of a miserable inconvenience this will create for you, that you’ll be backed into a corner, forced to lie again to cover all the shame I bring on the family. But I am no longer strong enough to fight it. I have come to accept that this disease has progressed so far I'll never escape its grip.

The pills don't work any more, no matter how many they give me. I'm increasingly lost in my delusions. The false memory I have of that peculiar day is becoming more set in my mind. I even got it into my head somehow that my brother, on his visit today, told me that what I believe is real, that he had seen the inscription himself, that he would try to get me out.

I didn't ask the nurses this time, mother. I remember how much trouble it caused for you when that similar confusion happened last year.


15 January

Everything is mist. I am a prisoner, in every sense: I can no longer distinguish truth from untruth, yet only the truth can set me free.

My paranoia is now so advanced that I have begun to believe, mother, that you are the liar, when you have done nothing but protect me from myself. With this type of sick idea infesting my mind, the only thing that I can be certain about today is my own inadequacy and brokenness. I felt real joy, mother, when you complimented the accuracy of these observations in my work. Even so, after you left, I was stricken with great melancholy in reflecting further on it, on the pathetic ignominy of my existence.

I have come to terms with this sad truth the hard way, yet in doing so a curious thing happened. The hard face of that notion stared me down until it lost its power, became soft and malleable like me, too soft to hurt me anymore, edges melting away into nothing, becoming nothing just as I am, a familiar and comfortable nothing, numb, blind, mute, losing all colour and form and feeling.


17 January

You are erasing me, mother, I cannot stop you, cannot hold you back, not with reason, not even with love.

Do you know what love is, mother?

It is not what you think, not a means of control to be exploited and desecrated until its deepest wells run dry. They cannot.

You can destroy me, my name, my image, delete every trace of me, but you can never destroy my love, for you cannot understand it, cannot match it, cannot see that the softer and more broken I become, the stronger and more evident it grows.

When you have fully destroyed me, mother, your failure, your ruin, will be complete, because you will have made my love perfect, selfless in the truest sense of the word, perfect and whole.

Perfect love drives out fear, mother. When I am no more, there will be no more fear in me. Only my love will remain. When I am no more, you will see it, clear and luminous, nothing but light, a bright light which will haunt you like a spectre, a benevolent poltergeist which will consume you, not as you consumed me, but with love, a love that is gentle and kind and immortal.

Neither of us want this, mother, but neither of us can stop it.

I am too weak, you are too strong; we are both of us hurtling toward extinction.


24 January

Today I imagined that I saw my brother again, that he told me not to take the pills, told me that he would soon be back for me, but that it was proving more difficult than he thought to convince them I'm not at all unwell.

Yes, I can understand why that would be so. The idea that anyone would make all this up, let alone my own mother, is ludicrous.

After he left the room, I got another half-witted idea into my head. I could swear I saw him arguing with the doctor. He had that picture in his hand, but through the glass I could not hear what they were saying. Of course, that cannot be.

Nevertheless, I’ve been hiding the pills, pretending to take them, in case.


27 January

You acknowledge none of the pain you cause, mother. You tell yourself the most convenient and damaging lie: my child is delusional, a fantasist, you tell yourself this because her truth is incompatible with your fabrication and therefore dangerous, to be eradicated no matter what the cost.

You lie, mother, lie continually, to yourself and everyone else, you won’t stop lying until you’ve destroyed every truth which conflicts with yours, no matter how many other things you have to destroy in the process. Things. To you, the child is nothing more than a thing, a worthless, disposable thing, a thing to use and discard the moment it is no longer of service.

You will stop at nothing until her truth is destroyed, destroyed by your lies, a greater and opposing force, vapourised, just as fire transforms water into a dissipating mist.

Mother, I can’t stop you. I love you, my love for you takes away my ability to stand in your way. I want you to succeed in everything you do. I can only warn you, warn you to be careful; this fire of yours is a dangerous plaything. Watch that it does not consume you along with me.

Even as I write these words, I feel you at work, mother, spreading lies like wildfire through woods, destroying my good name, every good memory of me in the mind of another, until I am as good as nothing, as good as dead, dead to everyone I hold dear. Yet I write still, pour the dying remains of my lifeforce into this, into you, until I am no more, like the girl in the photograph.


28 January

You don’t remember, mother, that she was ever there, do you? Yet she was. Take the picture down from the wall. Remove it from its frame. Read the inscription on the side nobody sees. That’s where you’ll find her.

I know, mother, because she is me. This time, even you cannot convince me of anything else.

You cut her from the picture, mother, cut her out so there was no-one left but you, framed yourself, hung yourself on the wall, where nothing betrays you but my grandmother’s spidery hand on the back, where her name sits inscribed with the date, July 1988, from a time when she - I - used to exist.

Monster, you destroyed her. Monster. And this illness of mine is just another one of your lies.


30 January

Do you recall what you did to her, mother? What you did to me, I mean, to my little face, red from crying, my little face, made ridiculous by that hideous floral hat you forced me to wear, which didn’t sit right and didn’t suit me, in that ill-fitting dress you picked to match yours, the whole scene mounted to keep me ugly and inferior, just how you wanted me.

"My poor child," you said, planting a loveless kiss on my brow, "You look like a fat Carmen Miranda."

Truth should have been my lifespring; you made its waters deadly with contempt and exhorted me to drink deep; you betrayed me even with your kiss.

I was happy to play the game, mother, I smiled, smiled through the sting of your toxic candour, smiled proudly, because you deigned allow me in your photograph. But I ruined it, as I ruined everything; I could not stop that treacherous fat tear rolling down my fat face just as the flash went. Fat Carmen Miranda.

My fat, hopeless, accidental sadness, there was no fight in it, no strength in it, no desire to win, yet it whispered to the world what a bitch you were. You had no choice but to destroy it, I know. Neither of us wanted that nasty rumour to spread.

So you cut me out, set fire to me, threw me in the grate. We watched me burn like I was nothing at all. Yet I felt honoured to sit with you, to help you frame the picture. The way I helped you was all wrong, just as it always was, but I never lost hope that one day I'd do things just how you wanted.

But you didn’t dispose of me in time, mother. This time, you failed just like me. She got to me first, loved me just as I was, a fat and unhappy failure, loved me enough to write my name before yours, so that when you burnt me, your name was not only consumed, it glowed and danced with me as it melted into my image.

You can no longer pretend I was not there. You cannot even black out my name. The ink would bleed through the cheap paper, mother, spoil your face. I know you because I love you just as you are, know that neither of us could bear to do that to you. You can only continue to lie. What story will you tell this time?

Will you say she was senile, that you looked so young that day she took you for her granddaughter? Will you say my half of the picture was damaged? You could blame me, call me clumsy and stupid, say I spilt water on it. You could say I did it myself, to spite you, spiteful girl that I am. Don’t worry too much about it, mother. The truth is so much stranger than any fiction even you could create.

Poor mother. When you did that, you made yourself just like me, broken, incomplete and, what’s worse, you don’t even know it yet.

The truth has set me free. Tomorrow, I leave this place, vindicated, replete with fearless love, a love refined and perfected in the purgatorial blaze you set around me.

I should thank you, irrespective of your intentions, but can only pity you now for what you have become, for not heeding my earnest warning to guard against that destructive fire of yours.

You remained in the inferno alongside me, not out of selfless loyalty as you might like the world to believe, but in a futile attempt to salvage the charred remains of your fabrications. Those flames which expiated the impure and the inadequate made dross of you just as they turned my weakness into gold; they left you in thrall to your own lies, those sick lies you continue to propagate even as you watch them combust and fall in cinders around you.

I can no longer save you, mother; if you wish to be free, you must choose to let them go.


31 January

My brother will be back to take me home just as soon as he has spoken with my consultant.

He brought me my white dress and a pair of brand new shoes. I cannot stop smiling at these shoes of mine, symbol that I will never again endure barefoot captivity at your behest.

Still, I cannot be certain I am quite free of delusion. A normal consequence, perhaps, of being force-fed a diet of lies for so long. A necessary period of adjustment. Nevertheless, it disturbs me.

Just now I could have sworn I saw her, approaching my door, syringe in her hand. It cannot be, no, there are limits to how far even a madwoman like mother would go to preserve--

July 19, 2021 06:45

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Eva Aggarwal
12:31 Jul 30, 2021

This is so good! I was absolutely enthralled; this is slightly similar to Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (Definitely your kind of book... though you've probably read it)


Sorcha Wilde
14:54 Jul 30, 2021

Hi Eva! Thanks so much for your kind comment! I've actually never read that book, but you're right, that's the kind of story I like. Must have a look for it online! Thanks for the tip :) Have a lovely weekend! Sarah


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