Contest #1 shortlist ⭐️

Days Forgotten

Submitted into Contest #1 in response to: Write a story about someone turning 100 years old.... view prompt

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Drama Historical Fiction

Days Forgotten

           The strange thing about life and living is that no one seems to remember how to do it. Indeed, many reach the end in the realization that they never lived at all.

           I know I did.

           Today, on August 2, 2019, Ashley Lawrence III, turns 100 years old. That’s me. And that’s quite old, ask anyone, they’ll tell you. I’ve seen a lot of things, I’ve done a lot of things. All this seeing and doing, you’d think it has made me wise—but it hasn’t.

           I’m as infantile as the day I was born. A scared small thing—

           Afraid to die.

           And why shouldn’t I, it’s the most basic of fears—the unknown. And I’ve seen so many others go that way.

           My wife, Barbara, peaceful in her sleep. Fifteen years to date.

           My war buddy, Alfie, when a shell dropped out of the sky. Ended his life for good. A sudden violent explosion, rocks, bits of cement and dust and blood.

           And then nothing, not even Alfie.

           Some say it was a bloody, bloody war. And they’re not wrong—but I call it empty. For all the shells it left behind, carcasses void of their human hosts.

           That’s true emptiness.

           And that was a long time ago.

           Nothing is infallible.

           Not even human memory. Least of all mine.

           Which I find funny because, if a man is not his memories then what is he?

           What am I but a pair of lungs to breath and a heart to pump my lifeblood through my veins and arteries? All to power the dog’s breakfast of my mind. A breakfast that I fear has shrivelled like a sponge left out to dry in the summer sun.

           I survived the war, I even got a medal, though I’m not sure what for, while Alfie was left behind. Buried beneath the poppies.

           But that was something else—

           All that remains of him are my memories. And when I die—so will he. A boy, murdered in his youth. With no one to carry his name.

           Now, that’s tragic. That’s tragedy. I doubt Shakespeare could be so creative. But that was then and now is now, where’s the sense in rehashing it yet again?

           Because it makes me wonder, how long will it be before no one remembers me either? Fifty years? A hundred?

           How long before, Barbara and Alfie and I…may as well, have never been?

           I’ve been left on the bookshelves of history for a while now, and my back’s been getting sore. Will one of you young fella’s get this old man a proper chair!

           Honestly!

           Kid’s these days—

           “Dad?”

           I opened my eyes tiredly to see a slim younger man looking down on me worriedly, “Eric! How are you doing, son?” I said, “How’s Alice?”

           He sat down slowly in an unfamiliar armchair, “Yeah, she’s—she’s great.”

           “Ah, I always said she was a good girl,” I noted happily, “And the kids? Suzie drew me a very nice picture last week.”

           “Did she?” Eric smiled, but his eyes did not.

           “Yes, very colourful. She’ll be an artist one day, mark my words!” I said as a strange feeling descended over me. Something didn’t feel right, probably my stomach again, “Can you ask your mother to make me a tea, Eric?”

           He looked startled, “Mom?”

           “No, the other one,” I said sarcastically, “I’m sure she’s in the kitchen, go on.”

           He wavered for a moment before getting up again, “I love you, Dad.”

           “Oh, enough with that nonsense,” I waved my hand in his general direction as if I could fan his comment away, “No one’s dying today, Eric! But I might if I don’t get some tea!”

           He shifted around for a moment, “I’ll be right back.”

           “Good boy,” I said agreeably, “Now, get outta here.”

           He left, closing the door softly behind him. That’s funny, I don’t remember a door between the living room and kitchen.

           Oh, well.

           Eric’s a good boy. Really is. Can’t make a cup of tea to save his life though. Sent him to school for ten years to become a doctor and still, can’t make a damned cup of tea.

           I shifted uncomfortably, on old man deserves better accommodations than this, honestly. I stopped, having winded myself and looked up at the ceiling, the lights were brighter than I would have liked. Too bright for an old man.

           I am old.

           100 years today.

           100 years full of pain and joy.

           I remember when I was a boy, growing up in a small town. I remember the war, the fear and blood and sweat. I remember getting married, Barbara looked like a queen in her white wedding gown. Well, she always does.

           Did.

           I remember Eric’s birth and schooling and marriage. I remember becoming a grandfather. And a great-grandfather.

           I’ve seen evil. I found it in Europe, among the piled bodies. Men, women and children. Freezing together as the snow piled around them.

           But I’ve seen good, in Eric’s will to help people. Strangers and friends alike. No matter who they are or where they come from.

           I’ve lived a long life.

           The corner of my eye feels wet. Because I know where I am now. I’m not at home and Barbara isn’t making me a tea in the next room as I recline on my easy chair, reading the papers. There’s no sunlight streaming through my window, warming my face.

           Because it’s night outside.

           And Barbara’s been dead fifteen years.

           And Suzie has children of her own.

           And Eric isn’t a boy anymore. He’s nearly seventy-years-old.

           I’m in the hospital.

And I’m dying.

Because that’s the way things go.

In a way, it’s right. I’ve been living on borrowed time since the war. Since I saw Alfie’s insides on his out and his outsides on his in.

I think I’ve lived a fair life—

I ran an honest business—

I sent my son to school—

I loved my wife—

And I remembered Alfie, after all this time, I still remember him. That’s what counts. And I can only hope—they’ll remember me.

I closed my eyes, whatever eternity may hold—I’m ready.

August 02, 2019 19:07

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2 comments

Dhananjay Sharma
09:41 Sep 21, 2020

Beautifully constructed. Simply amazing. https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/59/submissions/34852/ give a read to mine. also I would love to interact with you and discuss writing as a profession provided we could share contact details.

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A.J Wise
18:45 Sep 21, 2020

Hi, thanks so much for reading my story and sharing your thoughts on it. Way to make a person feel like maybe they've got an ounce of talent in them, lol. I read your story that you linked, very creepy-really puts you in the atmosphere of the small town. I'd love to talk about writing, although I'm no professional, maybe one day :)

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