I wake up and look around.
“Toast or cereal Margaret?” the lady in ugly blue clothing asks.
I try to remember what I prefer, but I can’t remember. My mind is blank. As vacant as a newly built house.
“Um, I’m sorry, nice lady but, do you remember what I had for breakfast yesterday?”
“Yes Margaret, you had cereal.”
“Ok, then I want cereal.”
“Alright, Margaret, I’ll be right back.”
“Um, I’m sorry Miss, but, who are you?”
“I’m your nurse, I help look after you.”
“Oh ok, thank you.”
“Your welcome, Margaret”
I look around my room, is it my room? It’s well-furnished with a wooden, rustic desk, rising high, backed by the wall, cluttered with papers, smack dab to the right of me. Tucked into it is a beautiful leather chair with barely visible lines streaking vertically, starting to become more prominent, eventually becoming rips. There’s a full bookshelf; both well-read, spine-cracked books and knick-knacks line the interior. A poster is hanging on the back of the door, opposite to me. In the center, a photograph of a dazzling young girl. Underneath, a title, a movie title I think, written in big black, Helvetica Neue, point 72 font, “Old Money”. Right underneath, printed in size 14 point font, “Starring M. Reynolds”. On either side of the girl are stacks of cash and a singular smoking gun on the top right-hand side. The movie seems recognizable, and yet I feel as far away from it as I ever possibly could, like an alien visiting a foreign planet. I try to remember what I should be doing. Why can’t I remember?
“Missss, missss, excuse me miss.”
A young lady in blue clothing appears.
“Yes Margaret, how are you? What do you need?”
I think I’m fine, what is fine? I don’t know.
“I’m sorry but I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing.”
“Well Margaret, right now is free time. So that means you can do whatever you want.”
Whatever I want? I don’t know what I want to do.
“How do I know what I want to do?”
“Well, what makes you happy? What do you enjoy doing?”
I throw a puzzled look.
The lady continues, “Do you like drawing, or writing, singing, or acting…?”
I sit there deep in thought.
Why can't I remember? It's not fair.
Unable to contain my emotions, I shout.
“I can't remember! Can't I do something else?!!”
I start crying, I don’t know what to do.
Why don’t I know anything? Who am I?
“Margaret, it’s okay,”
The lady in blue gently holds my withered hands in her own delicate pair, the warmth transferring from her body to mine, somehow calming me down with a simple touch,
“Sometimes finding something you used to like doing can help you remember”
She’s right, I know she’s right but what do I like doing?
My gaze darts around the room as I look for something familiar, I see beautiful paintings hung around the walls, pages of stories and poems, and miniature, realistic clay figurines neatly sitting on the tables. The one thing in common, they’re all signed by an M. Reynolds.
Wow, the people here must really like this M. Reynolds.
I finally spot some yarn and beautiful knitting needles on a bookshelf.
“Could I try knitting?”
“Of course Margaret.”
She gets the needles and yarn and passes them into my hands. I notice they’re embossed in gold with the same name that’s over the walls, M. Reynolds.
“Thank you, Miss”
“Of course Margaret, now do you know what to do?”
I think for a moment, feeling the needles sit in my hands, they feel at home, almost like an extension of myself. But that’s too much to hope for, too soon.
“How will this help me remember?”
“Well, if you knitted a lot normally, then knitting now might help bring some of those memories back to you.”
Not fully believing her, I cast a skeptical look.
“Just try. Believe in a little bit of magic.”
She’s sincere and I think maybe I should believe her. She pauses for a minute before saying,
“I’m going to leave you now. I’ll be back okay? You just knit and try to remember. But don’t force it, if it comes it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. You can call for me if you need help.”
“Wait what’s your name, Miss?”
Lanie leaves me alone and I start to knit. At first, I’m slow, clumsy, unagile, but soon my hands are at ease, at home, and before I know it, I’m already halfway done with a hat. I feel the wool between my bony fingers, soft but slightly itchy, thick, coarse, and strong, perfect for knitting something cozy.
Ok, now try to remember. Um….Uh…. nothing! I remember nothing!
My hands feel completely at ease and yet not a single memory floats back to me… I feel alone, unworthy, useless. I feel a hot tear drip down my cheek, flushing them red, my nose becoming a little runny, and I sniffle a few times.
It’s not fair. Why am I like this?
I look down at my wrinkled hands, they’re holding some sort of sticks, metal and pointy, yarn wrapped around.
I prick my finger, what are these?
Wait, where am I?
There are 4 walls around me, all a sickly beige colour. There’s a poster, a bookshelf, and a desk.
Where am I?
“Where am I?” I scream, my voice breaking as my throat feels scratchy. I feel all hot inside and start sobbing, unable to hold anything back.
A man in blue clothing comes inside. I start screaming.
“It’s ok Margaret, I’m here to help you. I’m not trying to hurt you.” The blue man says.
“Who's Margaret?” I scream.
He looks taken aback before continuing,
“It’s ok, I’m here to help you.” He walks over slowly, trying to hush me as he comes over.
“Let’s take a break, huh?”
He takes the sticks out of my hand and helps me lay down.
“Ok, now how about we take a nap?”
“Ok.” Eyes droopy, brain tired, I try to succumb to the darkness.
I hear hushed voices before I blackout, “It’s getting worse.”
“We always knew it would.”
“No, it’s progressing faster than it should have. And nothing jogs her memory. I...I don’t know if we can do anything.”
“Just keep trying, we took an oath to do whatever we possibly could to help people. That oath does not include giving up.”
I wake up and look around. There’s a crowded bookshelf, antique desk, black swivel chair, and a movie poster. I turn to my right and see some yarn on top of a pair of knitting needles. There’s a half-finished hat underneath. I glance around, checking to see if it might be anyone else’s, but seeing no other signs of life, I pick them up, fingers gently grazing the bedside table.
I finish the hat, it’s not perfect, but it still looks nice, like something I would wear…
To where? Where would I wear it? I don’t remember. I can’t remember ever being anywhere but here.
A woman comes in to check on me, for some reason, I know her name, Lanie.
“Wow, Margaret! You knit so fast, do you remember anything?”
My name’s Margaret? There’s no one else here so it must be. Margaret. Mar-ga-ret. Yes, it sounds normal, familiar. My name’s Margaret.
“No” I sigh.
“Oh, now don’t look so glum, I know it’s hard, but there’s always tomorrow,”
She strokes my grey hair lovingly, giving me a pitiful look. The funny thing is, I can’t seem to remember yesterday, so how am I supposed to remember today, tomorrow?
“Hurry up Parks”
An older lady bellows into the room.
“Coming” Lanie responds
“I thought your name was Lanie?” I’m upset, worrying that the only thing I remember is false.
“It is. Parks is my last name.”
“Ohhh. What’s my last name?”
“It’s Reynolds. Your name is Margaret Reynolds.”
I feel as though I should remember something, as if that should mean something to me, stir something deep within me, but it doesn’t. I still can’t remember.
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Awesome take on the prompt.
This is so good, I loved how you use your metaphors and the dialogue, it really kept me going, the picture of a dazzling girl, my boney hands, i felt for the lady.
Awww, thank you! I'm glad I could invoke that emotion!
I loved this story, it grabbed from the start and held on. And such a unique approach to the prompt. great job, janey!
Thanks so much!!!! I'm so glad to hear that!!! :)
Ooh wow! This story is really awesome! I loved all the imagery and vivid plotline, and I love each character's unique personality. Great job on this one! Keep writing :) I can see Claire gave you the feedback I was going to give you, so I'll spare you from that comment. I really enjoyed reading this!
Aww, thanks so much! And haha, compliments are just as great as feedback! Plus, it means I'm improving if you can't think of more critiques! :)
Hi Janey! This piece is really strong, too. I loved how well you write Margaret’s confusion and frustration to get us to empathize with her. The knitting is a nice touch and I think it really grounds the story by giving us that really descriptive scene. Just a couple suggestions for this one: “Toast or cereal, Margaret?” the lady in ugly blue clothing asks. (In dialogue, the tag, or who is doing the saying/mumbling/replying/etc. is uncapitalized unless the character is doing another action. For example, you’d write: “Hi, there!” he said, ...
Wow, thanks so much! I did not know that with the dialogue! I just added the 'wrinkled' hands and stuff but thanks! I didn't even think of that! And haha thanks! To be honest, the prompts this week really inspired me, and these last 2 stories, I wrote them both in one draft in less than an hour, both in the same day. And then, I waited a bit so I could read them over once before posting and the only thing I changed was I added the forgetting her own name part! That kind of doesn't make sense but I can't think of another way to word it right ...
That's awesome! It usually takes me several hours just to write a draft of one story. I sometimes start 2 or 3 different stories before I find one that I like haha. The prompts this week have been really interesting--it's fun to see what people have been coming up with!
Ya, I honestly don’t know how I have been able to! It’s probably because I just started so I have idea that have been swirling around in my brain for years. Or I also did a bit of improv in school last year, so I guess I’m pretty good at thinking of something random and connecting it to another thing somehow (which is not good for normal academic but apparently good for short stories). But also, your stories are like way better than mine and there’s so much hidden underneath. Mine are generally just someone dies! 😅 Also ya! They really have ...
I bet the improv perspective is handy! I've been writing as a hobby for something like 10 years hahaha so it's just that I've had some practice at it
Hahaha yeah! Wow! 10 years is impressive! I hope I can learn to write like you someday in the future! :)
Hi Janey! I really enjoyed this story! I suspected who Margaret was and I loved how you built up the suspense throughout the story and revealed the truth subtly (and implicitly) in the end. The descriptions were great! I have a few suggestions: 1. '“Who's Maragert?' This may not be an error, and I may have been mistaken, but in case you meant 'Maragert' to be 'Margaret' here, this is a typo. 2. 'I become angered beyond belief, unable to contain my emotions, shouting. “I can't remember! Can't I do something else?!!”' Maybe you could show in...
Thanks so much, Akshaya! Haha, don't apologize, that was 100% a typo! Also, thanks so much, I definitely agree with those! In the first 2, I just retyped them so I definitely accidentally missed those, as for the last one... I think I just wanted to be more descriptive! XD Thanks (if you can believe it, I only wrote this story like 2/3 days after my second one and it was in one draft, except for the Ow part which I added after) and it definitely has helped!
Of course, and no problem! Even when I'm typing, the keys get all jumbled and mixed up, and I have to go change the sequence of the letters again XD Oh yes! I love being descriptive, too! But this was just a suggestion, it's totally up to you if you take it or not! :) Wow, that's cool! Do you do two drafts for each story? Thank you!
haha! And no, you were 100% right, it was completely unnecessary, I was just laughing at how I tend to be "over-descriptive" by over-explaining things. and haha, it depends. The first few stories I've written, I've done in one draft, (so I write it all out, sometimes all at once, other times, at different parts of the day when I'm free) and then I'll wait a day, skim over it and try to find any mistakes before posting. This is probably why my stories can be confusing! I probably should wait longer and more heavily edit, but with only a week,...
Hi Janey! I'm so sorry I didn't respond to you for nearly a month! It was because I had finals (which got over just yesterday) and I wasn't allowed on Reedsy. But I'm glad to be back! I do, too! I *always* overwrite, and I have to cut down so much to shape up the story again! Oh, that's nice! For my first story here, I did a rough draft and a fair draft, but for all the ones that followed, I stuck to one draft and editing it, because the process was taking really long. Same here! Sometimes, a week feels too short, and we end up thinking th...
Hey Akshaya! That's totally ok! I hope you did really well!! :) And ooh nice! Thanks for letting me know! I've been trying to form a better writing routine and I will definitely try using that!
Also, this is really weird, it seems as if someone is downvoting your comments maybe? I upvote them because they're so helpful, but it stays at only 1 point! I'll go like a whole bunch of your stories to try to fix whatever the heck is happening! :)
Yeah they were downvoting me every single day (because they didn't want me to climb up the leaderboard) but they stopped once I went inactive. I suppose they will start again! Thank you so much!! You're really kind! :))
That is so rude, I hope they don't do it again! Awww thank you so much! You're suuuuper kind as well! :))
Well done, especially the ending and the descriptions of her room. To indicate shouting, I'd recommend not putting it in all caps--feels a bit too much like texting in all caps to me--but if that's a style choice you'd like to make, go ahead!
Thanks so much! And oooh, yeah, I never thought of that but I definitely agree. I'll change it now, thanks!
You can use more descriptive methods to show anger, tell it, like - Her face went into a deep frown while she studied the picture of the dazzling lady. She felt like shouting at it, telling it to stop staring at her, she shook off her frustration and studied the room more.
oooh thank you! I will definitely try incorporating that more in my next stories!