#115 A Monster Softly This Way Comes

by Deborah Smythe

Something waded through the fog. A monster? The word came slowly, pulled like taffy from my brain. My drugged brain?

Ellie! Robert! Oh god, where were they?

Memory flashed: Ellie’s cheeks white-washed with frosting, and Robert with his crooked, sweet smile laughing beside her, then nothing. And this. The monster padded closer. Shadow clung to it, black and formless as mud.

I fumbled for a weapon, latched onto a branch. Branch? The word tasted wrong. It didn’t matter. Ellie and Robert were here somewhere and the creature would get them over my dead body. It reached out. The fog broke, shadow sloughed away.

Not a monster, a man. He smiled, slightly crooked.

Robert! Sunshine washed through me, some from Robert’s smile, some from the open window beside me. Not in a forest then. Not even outside. I stroked the wooden arm rests of my hospital chair. I was a doctor, I knew institutional furniture.

Robert knelt. “You look good.”

“You look better than that.”

His smile widened. “You know me!”

“That corkscrew grin’s hard to forget.” I looked around for my chart. “What happened? Is Ellie ok?”

“Mom’ll visit Saturday.” He squeezed my fingers.

Incoming fog ate the sunlight and my heart constricted. I grabbed his wrist, the fog making my hand look wizened. “I asked about Ellie.”

His smile vanished and his face twisted wrong in the twilight mist. Not Robert. Imposter. Stranger.

Fog swallowed him, swallowed everything, but if my family was in here I’d find them.


JRVogt said...

Great juxtaposition of this woman recovering from the aftermath of an accident with being lost in a mental fog.

Unknown said...

An interesting one, made me think.

Deb Smythe said...

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, JR and Shona. JR pretty much has it, but it isn't an accident causing her brain fog.

Anonymous said...

I imagined this was a visualization of Alzheimer's. Such strength and pathos conveyed in such a short space.

Deb Smythe said...

You got it, Aerin. It is Alzheimer's. Thanks for the comment.