Published by Little Acorn Publishing Ltd
Copyright © 2017 Rob Powell
All rights reserved.
A Free Short Story
Lost In MY WORLD
I am still buzzing from my 15th birthday, my main present a folk guitar with a ‘How to play guitar in 10 days’ book. Excellent, I think soon I will be playing like Pete Townsend and impressing the girls with my rendition of ‘My Generation’ by The Who. My parents hate The Who, a complete noise they say, but I love the lyrics ‘I hope I die before I get old’, and I love to turn the volume up, this has my Mum crying and my Dad ready to slap me shouting.
‘You bloody well will die before you get old’. They are more into Frank Sinatra and all that sort of boring stuff. Anyway for the time being my pop star career is on hold as I am not allowed to bring my guitar into hospital. In fact, they don’t allow me to bring much at all except myself and even visits are limited. Only Mum seems to come and see me every day.
This morning the nurse has done her daily rounds and checked I have taken my medicine like a good boy. Nurse Bowles her name tag confirms, who is my favourite nurse, and she lets me call her by her first name Jennifer. She is young and blessed with a kind face and natural beauty, not the type that is manufactured with makeup and clothes, but one that will stay for life. Although young, she is still too old to be interested in me. She has a fun and captivating personality and cheekiness about her and always likes to call me young Dave.
‘How are you today young Dave?’ she warmly greets me with an accompanying smile. Her boss, Matron McClintock, has more stern features and is stubbornly authoritarian, prefers the more formal approach of Mr Polk, that I detest, it makes me feel old before my time. Why does she insist on calling me Mr Polk, no one ever calls me Mr Polk. I confess I struggle with hospital life, I feel trapped and imprisoned, like a bird in a cage unable to fly. Continuously, I ask myself why am I here and what’s worse is no one tells me how long I‘ll be staying. The doctors don’t seem to know or in their wisdom choose to keep it secret from me. I know I have memory problems and forget things like if I had my lunch, or if I brushed my teeth, and Jennifer will need to remind me.
Frustration and boredom beats me at times and mischief I find as my resolve to temper my mood. After my morning drugs I dress and wait for my new friend John. He is older than me but we have found similar interests in music and football and our favourite, that we spend most our time talking about, is mischief. He is one of those boys with an old head on him. One of his favourite and most irritating greetings for me is
‘Hello, old man’, accompanied by raucous laughter. I am sure he thinks he is going to be a comedian one day, I resist in deflating his optimism by telling him he is going to be disappointed. Sitting on my bed waiting, John appears
‘Hello old Man’,
‘Yeah yeah, very funny’ I cry ‘Let’s get some breakfast’.
Over my porridge and John’s Corn Flakes we hatch our brilliant plan. We know Matron is onto us these days, with eyes trained like a hawk, so we have to be smart and discrete. Today’s rebellious and ingenious prank is to block the sinks, turn on the taps and hide. The hiding part is pointless as John and I will be guilty as charged without trial. Punishment: hung, drawn and quartered as a warning to other patient that fun is not allowed here. Aware we need a decoy; John comes up with the idea to get Matron to play the piano in the recreation room. This is a room we go after breakfast where Matron likes to show off her talents on the piano. John saw this as a weakness we could exploit. Our plan complete we leave the table, smile at each other, and walk toward the room where the others have already settled.
This is one of our more mischievous adventures. Others have included hiding patient’s belongings and swapping their pyjamas, one of my personal favourites, and one we have never been caught for, so far. To see the confusion and panic when they get dressed for bed made John and I crack up with tears of laughter. The type of things boys get up to, you know, no real harm done. This plan raises the bar and I know we can get in a lot of trouble for this one. To hell with it, what do they expect I’m starting to get impatient with this damn place and nobody tells me anything. All I want is to go home and maybe this would spur them into action.
‘For Queen and Country old man’ John salutes, followed by his predictable roar of laughter, as we set off on our mission.
I sit by the door ready to make a quick escape. Jennifer is attending to Lucy, another patient, who is in a current state of uncontrollable tears. This place will drive me insane if I am not already. John makes his move and turns on the charm coaxing Matron onto the piano. Little charm is needed for Matron is always eager to jump on the piano. Any word associated with music Matron will use as an excuse.
‘Oh would you like me to play you something on the piano?’ she offers, in her pompous voice, not meant as question. Before anyone can say ‘No!’ she would be torturing the keys of the piano and everybody’s ears. One blessing about her out of tune piano concerts is she will not be moaning at us or me and John in particular.
The first part of the plan is executed to military precision. I wait for Matron to start her second number and with her body and mind totally absorbed in her concert my slipping out, for sure, will not be noticed. Jennifer is comforting Lucy an unplanned bonus that we accept graciously. I quietly lift myself from the patterned fabric armchair where I have sunk deep making getting out an effort. I creep down the corridor and ease the lavatory door open. Checking the cubicles ensuring I am alone, in the last of the three, I remove the toilet roll and make my way to the sinks. Inserting the plug I pull strips of toilet paper, soak them under the running tap, and stuff it into the overflow making the only escape for the water over the rim and onto the floor. Returning to my chair in the recreation room I struggle containing my laughter and sit with an uncontrollable and undoubtedly stupid grin on my face. Success; no one noticed my absence and timing is to perfection as Matron is just finishing her encore that I am sure no one requested. I glance at John to give a confirming nod as he mirrored my grin. Before long the screams in the corridor echo with the beautiful acoustics off the wards walls. John and I both feel a proud childish accomplishment, followed by a moment of fear with the realisation of the backlash of Matron’s wrath soon to be upon us.
It is not long before John and I are reprimanded by Matron and Jennifer. Even Jennifer has a look of disgust on her face. Perhaps today I have taken it a step too far.
The wall clock hits 4pm and I see my Mum arrive, before she gets to me Matron calls her over. Although my lip reading skills do not surmount too much I can tell by the expression on my Mum’s face she is upset by the news.
Without as much as a hello my Mum is on my case and with each word fills me with more and more shame.
‘You have to behave yourself. It’s not fair on the nurses who are trying to help you’ tears start to form in my Mum’s eyes.
‘I’m sorry Mum, I just ..’ before I can explain she breaks down, the tears uncontrollably flooding out. My natural reaction is to comfort her in my arms.
‘Mum, please it’s ok’ trying desperately to reassure her I will behave myself in the future.
‘Stop it, stop calling me that’ she screams becoming more out of control. Jennifer appears and takes my mum by her arm and walks away. It feels like a river rising and exiting my eyes as I push my face into the pillow and bite it trying to stop the tears running down my face.
I look at the clock the second hand struggles with each tick, as if time slowed to amplify and enjoy my emotional pain. It seems forever but I know it is only five minutes before my Mum returns.
‘I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you’ she gives a concerned but loving smile that I can tell is truly an effort.
‘It’s ok’ I say, ‘I promise to behave from now on. I just hate it here. When will I get out?’ I look her in the eyes and can see the anguish on her face
‘It won’t be long. I love you so much, just never forget that’ with that she leans forward, kisses me on the forehead and leaves.
It has been a long day, with all the excitement and upset, I feel exhausted and unwell so I decide to go to bed early. I struggle to sleep and feel a fever coming on with a sweat making my pyjamas feel uncomfortable as I lie in bed. There is a coldness penetrating my body as I curl up into a ball trying to keep warm. Eventually I manage to get to sleep, within what seem minutes; I am woken by a familiar dream. It is a strange and unusual dream as it is not something I think about during the day. I see myself playing in a field on a summer’s day with a little girl, and a woman sitting on a picnic blanket smiling. Her eyes full of beauty and so much love for me. As the dream develops I realise this woman and little girl are my wife and daughter. At that point I jerk to a sudden uncomfortable consciousness. My tiredness fades the dreams image fast and I return to sleep.
I wake again feeling the coldness throughout my body grabbing hold. Gasping for air and desperate to breath, I bring my hands to my throat trying to pull away the imaginary grip that is strangling me. My breathing begins to ease and I start to relax. My vision closes in on itself and the darkness in the room begins to change, with a dim light far off at the end of a tunnel becoming brighter and closer. The comforting warmth surrounds my body removing my fever. The light grows stronger and brighter and with a sudden flash I am gone.
David Polk’s Funeral
It’s a beautiful day, sun shining with the sky a tropical blue, through the window a picturesque view of the daffodils and bluebells spraying colour over the green hills brings a sense of tranquility on the gathering.
Nicole stands upright and in a focused and mournful state looks over the lectern at the tearful faces. She pauses briefly as she remembers, the visits and the emotional trauma brought on by her helplessness. She raises her clenched fist to her lips coughing quietly clearing her throat. Her voice trembles delicately as she speaks.
‘Today although I am full of sadness with the passing of my Dad. I know that after years of suffering from dementia I believe he is now resting peacefully.’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob Powell, a British author of short stories, crossing genres that combine the dark with reality fiction. His debut novel is planned for publication 2017 so if you enjoyed this short stories be sure to subscribe for details of the novels publication date at
A short story that is not quite as it first seems. The story is a based in an English hospital where David Polk is a patient. The story is written in the first person as David Polk, as he tells of his recent birthday when he has just turned fifteen. How his life has been put on hold since being taken into hospital. David's frustrations grow and his mischievous ways get the better of him as he tires of the hospital routine. A quick and fascinating read that take you into the mind of some mental health issues.