The Unstable Self
Write a story that alternates between the I and the he/she (or narrator name), making sure you don't confuse the reader with the switches. You might also consider other ways of indicating instability - voices (in italics), commands, or out-of-body perpectives. Perhaps a situation where a person is under such stress they cannot think straight?
Wordcount: 500 (+/- 10%)
with thanks to Gerard Manley Hopkins from whom I have begged, borrowed, and possibly stolen! - The Caged Skylark
I don’t want to be here any more. I wonder if I can escape. I wonder if I can fly away.
She winces even in her sleep. I look down dispassionately at my earthridden, bedridden self. In that bone-house, mean house. But not resting. No mounting spirit here. She’s caged. Trapped. Not a skylark, but a dodo.
What, then, of me? Sprung like a rhythm out of flesh. Flying high. She battered against barriers and gave in. I soar free. I can’t explain.
It’s strange to watch her face contort and to feel nothing. To see my limbs twist with pain. To see her teeth grind together. And to feel nothing.
I look away. The view from the window is green and pleasant. She looks it every day but she doesn’t notice it. She looks, the light enters her eyes, the image is processed by her optic nerve and transmitted to her visual cortex. She looks at it. But she does not see it. I have not seen it before, though I have looked at it every day.
A noise makes me look back to the bed. Eyes have opened. Vision is blurred. She can’t see. I can’t see. I have no eyes. They’re there on the bed and they’re misty and clouded with pain. I wonder how, then, am I looking down at her? At me?
I don’t want to. I float away. She is trapped by her bones, flesh-bound, imprisoned. I am free as a bird, as a dare, as the breeze over a meadow. I can soar. I can sing.
She groans. I sink, pulled down. Don’t! Let me go. She won’t let go. She can’t. She doesn’t know how. She needs a sign.
Rain. A drizzle, falling like tears. She did not look. I did not notice the clouds. I am floating above it all, far away, and lying in this bed, a prisoner of her body.
She can’t escape. The sky is weeping for her and she is trapped here, in chains. The chains bind me tight and she cannot move. The bed is not rest but torture.
I fight back. I rise, slowly, slowly. Looking for a light in the darkness. Looking for sweet release. All she wants is not to be in pain any more. Legs too weak to hold her scramble for purchase on the smooth sheets. Machines beep. Regular. Monotonous. Beep. Beep. Counting away the seconds of a life no longer being lived.
The sun falls on her face and she smiles as I feel the warmth. No pain, just warmth. Welcome. Release.
Sudden fear. Is this what I want? Her body tenses, one last effort against the inevitable. How does she know that this is the right time? Who will promise that what is to come will be better?
A rainbow outside the window. She looks. I see it.
Her spirit sings like a bird released, flying high over the meadows. Her body relaxes back into the pillows, quiet. Pain drains away. I cannot feel anything.
At last at peace. Breathing stills, stops. Heartbeat stills, stops. I soar onwards, chains released.
Challenge 4 - Reflections
3 years ago