Forget Me Not

Written in response to: Write a story in the form of a list.... view prompt


Drama Contemporary Transgender

John awoke and his first thought was to make coffee and get ready for work. But his body proved unresponsive, and it took him another 10 minutes to sit upright. His gaze fell on a piece of paper resting on his nightstand. Intrigued, he picked it up and began to read out loud. 


Things not to forget: 

  • Your name is John Greene. You are 85 years old. You have dementia. 
  • You had a wife, Luna. She’s still alive, but you divorced long ago. She was too good for you.  
  • You have a son, Jack, who you haven’t seen in many years. You have a daughter as well, Jess, and you see her from time to time. 

John wondered who could have written the note, was it him? He had trouble believing both his age and the assertion he had dementia. After all, he could remember very well that he had a wife and kids. But was he and Luna truly divorced? It doesn’t matter anyway, she was just a constant pain in his neck. It was true he hadn’t seen Jack in a long time, but he couldn’t remember what had happened between them, if anything. Maybe he just had better things to do. John certainly didn’t want to visit old people when he was in his mid-20s. Or wait, how old was Jack? What year was it again? Maybe he did have dementia. He returned to the piece of paper. 

To-do for today (remember to tick off!): 

  • Take at least one shower. Do it, even if you don’t want to. 
  • Take a walk outside, maybe two if the weather is nice. Do it even if it hurts to move – it’s good for you. 
  • Take all your medication. They’re in the bathroom cabinet. No cheating. The results are not pretty. Trust me. 
  • Write a read-me note for tomorrow. You’ll think you won’t need to and that you’ll remember just fine thank you very much, but you won’t. Trust me. In every clear moment you have, write the list. Write. The. List. If you need to, ask one of the nurses to help – there’s no shame in that. 

A few of your favourite things: 

  • Your favourite colour is red. It reminds you of your cricket-playing days, the red ball swishing through the air with just the right amount of swing, before hitting the unsuspecting batsman on his pads, an appeal and wicket just moments away. 
  • Your favourite song is Magic Moments by Perry Como. They don’t make music the way they used to anymore. It was your and Luna’s song. If you concentrate, you might still remember the way she used to look at you. Before you ruined everything. 
  • Your favourite food is lamb chops, but you’re not allowed to eat them anymore. On account of your health. Or something. 

The people you love:

  • Your sister, Emily. She’s your last remaining sibling. Call her. 
  • Your wife ex-wife, Luna. You didn’t treat her well and you never deserved her. It’s never too late to apologise (well, not according to this new band they’re playing on the radio, but I’m hoping they’re wrong). 
  • Your daughter, Jess.
  • Your son, Jack. 

Visitors for the day: 

  • Jess said she might come round. All the more reason to shower! 

Resolutions for 2024: 

  • Face the truth, you don’t have many years left. Your body and mind are giving in. It’s time to make amends. Don’t act stupid, you know what I mean. The past is the past and there’s nothing you can do to get it back. We don’t get do-overs. But you can at least say what needs to be said. Before it’s too late. Accept her. 
  • More exercise. 
  • More showers. 
  • More laughing. 
  • Less pain. Yeah, right. 
  • More memories. 
  • It’s not too late until it is. 

John’s head was spinning. He couldn’t remember writing this note, though he had to admit the tone sounded like his. As he was trying to make sense of it all, his minded drifted back to a happier time…

A barbecue in the sun, meat sizzling on the coals, Luna by his side, and his children playing happily. He recalled trying to start up a game of cricket, but neither of his children was interested in the game that was so close to his heart. His daughter he could still forgive, but his son – it was like a slap in the face. He was supposed to follow in his father’s footsteps, and beyond. But Jack had zero interest in cricket, heck in any sport for that matter. And then John’s memories drifted to another day, when he discovered what Jack was doing alone in his room. A twirling mess of pink and glitter. He could still feel the shame of it. His own son. He wondered whether he reacted too harshly, but then rejected the thought. A gentle knock ushered him back to the present. 

“Dad? Can I come in?” So Jess came to visit after all. 

John cleared his throat before answering. “Yes, sweetheart. Come on in.”

“Happy new year! How are you feeling today?”

“Right as rain! No complaints. Make us some coffee, will you?”

Jess turned to the kitchenette to switch on the kettle. 

“How’s your mum?” John enquired. “Haven’t seen her in a while.”

“Not bad. Wasn’t she here yesterday though?”

“Oh, uhm, yes, that’s right. I remember now,” he lied. “And your brother? How is Jack?” John asked, feigning nonchalance. 

“Dad,” Jess sighed, turning from the kettle to glance at her dad. 

“What? I’m not allowed to ask?” Defensive and obstinate, till the very end. 

“Don’t act stupid, Dad. When will you fix things with her?”

“With your mum?”

Jess looked exasperated as the kettle boiled and she started preparing the coffee. “No. Well, actually, yes, you have a lot of amends to make, to mum, to me. But the biggest one is Jackie. Dad, you make it so difficult. I don’t know if it’s the dementia or if you’re just still being stubborn after all these years.”

“I don’t have dementia. And I miss my son,” John declared, his voice cracking and tears welling up in his eyes.

“Dad, for the millionth time, you don’t have a son. You never did, not really. Can you just accept her for who she is? Or do you want to lose her forever? Never meet her partner and your grandson? The fact she doesn’t visit you anymore… well, you’ve only got yourself to blame. You were her first bully.” 

John didn’t respond, couldn’t. Jess’s words hung in the air, pushing his thoughts back to his son… He did have a son after all, no matter what Jess said. A son who wore dresses and put make-up on and kissed the neighbours’ sons. A son who boldly declared he was not a man. How could he ever accept that?

Jess pulled him out of his reverie. “You know, I could never understand why it’s such a big deal to you. Instead of having a son and a daughter, you have two daughters. We’re both happy and healthy, isn’t that what matters?”

John looked away, before mumbling, “Tell your mum to come visit, I haven’t seen her in ages.”

December 29, 2023 20:54

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Michelle Oliver
09:12 Jan 02, 2024

This is powerfully beautiful. Dementia is an isolating disease, but he has also isolated himself. Such pain all around.


19:35 Jan 02, 2024

Thank you for reading, Michelle!


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Trudy Jas
05:49 Dec 31, 2023

They're all hurting, aren't they? Beautifully written (and the heck with the list, the message is more important.) Thanks for reading and 'liking' my stories.


06:23 Dec 31, 2023

Thanks very much, Trudy!


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James Lane
05:28 Dec 31, 2023

Thanks for putting that damn song in my head! "It's tooooo laaate" Losing my marbles is up there as top life fears so I kinda felt some hope in John's letters to himself. Once I start slipping I'm definitely writing letters to myself like this. Nice job Melissa and don't worry a bit about following the prompt (which in my opinion you did fine) writing a cohesive story in one week is hard enough and you did a great job. Happy new year!


06:22 Dec 31, 2023

Lol, sorry about that, James! Thanks very much for your feedback, greatly appreciated. Happy new year! :)


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Jack Kimball
23:54 Dec 30, 2023

Hi Melissa. I think it fits the prompt just fine. You have a great flow to your writing where I lose the writer and just absorb the story. Have you seen the movie, Momento? For some odd reason I envisioned reading your story backwards, the paragraphs reversed. Anyway, great job. I look forward to reading your postings. Best. Jack


02:04 Dec 31, 2023

Hi Jack, Thank you so much for your kind words, I appreciate them so much! :) I have seen Momento yes, interesting point!


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20:59 Dec 29, 2023

If anyone is interested in Jackie's story, it was actually my first on this platform:


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20:56 Dec 29, 2023

I started writing this with the intention of it all being in list format, but then veered of course significantly... it probably doesn't suit the prompt anymore, but oh well!


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Mary Bendickson
17:42 Jan 30, 2024

Thanks for liking my 'All for Science'. It is a different kind for me. I chose to read this one of yours because it is titled so similar to one I wrote months ago about my sister. Anyway, nice job here.


19:34 Jan 30, 2024

Thanks for reading, Mary.


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