Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest Writer: Bill Floyd

Misplaced

He knows he’s in trouble for real when he opens the pantry door and sees the water pitcher sitting there on the middle shelf among the boxes of noodles and the soup cans and the flavoring packets. Definitely does not belong there. The pitcher is one of those filtration type dealies where you fill the reservoir in the upper chamber with tap water which then drains through a cylindrical filter (which is itself supposed to be changed every month or so although he and Evelyn both forget to do that sometimes; no big deal) so that you have a ready supply of purified water to pour in your glass. No telling what sort of crap the governmental corner-cutters are allowing into the tap water these days. You can’t be too careful, all kinds of items in the news about the long-term damage chemicals can cause as they accumulate in your fatty tissues. And he is thirsty a lot lately; something to do with his kidneys and the medications he’s on. The doctor had explained it all, but the terminology escaped him as soon as he’d left the office.

The pitcher belongs in the refrigerator. They’ve been keeping it in there as long as he can remember.

His first impulse, instinctive and defensive, is that Evelyn must’ve misplaced it. But she’s been out of town all week, staying with her sister over in Lexington; the old gal is having a rough go of it with the emphysema, her own fault for smoking all those years. It’s not like no one ever told them it was bad for your health. Suing cigarette companies, most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard—you inhale smoke on a daily basis for decades, and then you want to blame someone else when you can’t breathe? Hogwash. He’s never smoked or drunk to excess, at least not since he was a young man.

But that water pitcher is still in the pantry. Fridge is on the other side of the kitchen altogether. When he’d looked and the pitcher wasn’t in its accustomed position on the refrigerator’s middle shelf, initially there was a moment of confusion, a lost span where he stood there staring at the blank space, suspended, suddenly adrift. But no fear, not until he’d opened the pantry door (thinking vaguely of a snack, raisins or dried cranberries, perhaps) and there it sat, so very out of place. Then the deep well opened inside him because he had no recollection whatsoever, none, of placing the pitcher there, but it must have been his hand that had done the deed. No gremlins, no one else in the house since Evelyn left earlier in the week, Monday or Tuesday or maybe yesterday.

Panic is the right word. He chants the names of his children and grandchildren internally: Bruce, Faye, Laura, Tyler, Samantha… No, not Samantha. That’s wrong. Sabrina, his youngest grandchild’s name is Sabrina. She’s Faye’s second born and has her father’s slate gray eyes. Or are they blue? He should know this but does not. The pitcher has sweated and the pantry shelf is blotted around its base.

Mute now, transfixed. Losing the future and the past all at the exact same time.

© William Floyd 2010

Bill Floyd is a writer from North Carolina who is feeling his way around the on-line world of micro-fiction. He blogs occasionally at www.sixsentences.ning.com.

10 comments:

  1. Beautifully told, terrifying tale - something that those of us who have passed a birthday milestone or two begin to fear, probably disproportionately ...

    But the structure and the logic and the language of this piece is sound - no fears for you yet, Bill

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  2. Exceptionally well written account of the possible onset of Alzheimer's disease, which is terrifying...especially when one has witnessed the effects first-hand. Brilliant composition!

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  3. Bill, you presented this in such a respectful manner. The beauty of Alzheimer's is that the person doesn't know it. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Excellent write.

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  4. When I saw you were a featured writer here, I fell all over myself logging onto MuDjoB. And I'm glad I did. Spot-on, Bill. I am among the readers who fall at your feet.

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  5. At first I sensed the character was paranoid or into conspiracy theories and then you turned me around and made me feel such sadness. Great piece.

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  6. This is so well constructed. You've captured the confusion and disorientation so well. Superb.
    Adam Byatt @revhappiness

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  7. Definitely a thoughtful piece from a perspective that makes me think you have some experience..nicely done..

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  8. Oh man. I'm not used to this side of you, Bill. Completely dudeless. This really is a lovely piece of work. It had me going in a completely different direction before really nailing me with the ending.

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  9. Been so busy lately, I just realized I'd let a few posts pass without putting in my two cents. I can't believe I haven't noted before how much this little story affected me. It addresses one of my greatest fears in life. People always say, "When you go senile, what will it matter to you? You won't even realize it." But it's all the people around you who will be wearing a look of disappointment, and I believe you will suffer because you won't know why they are, but you will somehow know it's your fault." This is scary stuff, but beautifully written. Thank you, Bill.

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