Archive for the ‘Short story’ Category

I’m still trying to crank out the beginning of a new story every day in February. Today I got a little farther than I expected. This actually might be a complete story–a very short story, but it stands on its own. I didn’t intend it that way, as this is Story Starter Month, not Story Finisher Month. But I just kept writing, as I’ve definitely learned that when you’re on a roll, you keep going. Hope you enjoy.


“Try to breathe normally,” says a voice.

Normally is how I’m breathing. Isn’t it? What’s happening? Something’s wrong. Whenever someone tells you to try to breathe normally, something bad is going on. That’s why I’m breathing like this. Isn’t this a normal kind of breathing? God, my lungs feel like they’re the wrong size. Where am I? What’s wrong with my eyes? Am I blinking?

“Things went well, Oliver,” says the voice. It’s a woman’s voice. “Try to remain calm. Breathe.”

Wait. What went well? I can’t seem to ask, or they can’t seem to hear me. I can’t get my mouth to move. Can they hear my thoughts? I can tell there’s light, and figures are moving around in it. It’s blurry. My eyes are open, but it’s so blurry. My eyelashes feel wrong. My hair is tickling my ear. It’s grown.

“It’s normal to feel a little out of place, but you have nothing to worry about. You’ll get accustomed with time. Your heart rate’s a little elevated, though, so we’d like to give you something to calm you down now, okay?”

I can’t stop them even if I wanted to. Will I go to sleep now? But wait. What am I getting accustomed to? What happened? What have they done to me?

“Oliver?” asks the woman’s voice. “Oliver, your finger just moved. Did you do that? Can you try that again?”

Did I do that? Am I paralyzed? I don’t feel paralyzed—I just feel… numb. I feel like I’m floating inside my own body. All I can remember is teacups. Teacups with red roses on them. And my sister Hazel laughing. Hazel liked my jokes.

“That’s very good, Oliver!” says the woman. “You moved it again. Your right index finger, and your right middle finger too. That’s great. That shows the bonds are forming. Ahead of schedule, even.”

What bonds? What schedule? Hazel and I were at a café. The teacups had red roses on them. That’s where I remember them from. We sat on the street corner. What place was that? The sign was in cursive. I can’t see it in my mind.

“If you can remember what happened, Oliver, lift your fingers again.”

I don’t know what I’m doing to move my fingers. But I’ll just try to breathe, and relax, and let my fingers sit there, because I certainly can’t remember what happened. But something did happen—she just confirmed it. My ribcage feels wrong. I feel like my shirt has shrunk around my chest. This is all wrong. Something deeply wrong has happ—

“Good, Oliver. I’m glad you remember. Sometimes there’s some short-term memory loss after this kind of operation, which is normal. But you remember the accident?”

No. No. I don’t remember any accident. We were at the café. What the hell happened? I remember the teacups. I remember Hazel laughing.

“Good! That’s good. Now—this is very important, Oliver. Do you remember what we asked you? About the operation? We told you we could save you with a very special kind of operation, but it would require some difficult choices.”

Oh God. Oh God. I don’t remember any of this. I can’t see anyone—it’s still so blurry. What have they done?

“Good. Oliver, your heart rate is still elevated more than we’d like. It’s normal to be upset. But we need you to breathe and calm down as well as you can. Stress can harm the connection to your new home. Do you understand?”

Understand? How could anybody possibly understand any of this? What could she mean by all of this? I remember something—no. I remember her scream. Hazel screamed. A car out of control, slamming up over the curb. Teacups. Shards of shattering porcelain teacups flying through the air.

“Okay. Well, that’s enough for now. Rest now, Oliver, and we’ll talk more about it later. You’ve made terrific progress. Your sister would be proud.”

Footsteps across tile. A door closing. I’m alone.

Hazel—Hazel was screaming. She would be proud? Oh God, she’s dead. The car smashed across the sidewalk of the café. Teacups. That’s the last thing I remember. Hazel must be dead, and I’ve survived.

I still can’t see. I realize I can feel, though. I’m moving my fingertips, and I can feel them brushing against the material of the sheet. I’m in a hospital bed. I can move. It feels strange, like I’m moving a puppet.

Oh God, Hazel. I’m crying, it feels like. I can hear soft, childlike sobbing. Is that me? I sound so strange. My hearing is strange. My sister is gone. I can’t believe this is happening. I want to wake up.

My fingers brush up against something in the bed. A hard plastic object. I can move my hand well enough now to move an inch and reach for it. Glasses. They’re the frames, like Hazel’s. They’ve put Hazel’s glasses in my bed, by my hand. As I cry, I can hear her voice. Don’t cry, Hazel. I’m so sorry. I should have died, not you.

My fingers curl around her glasses. My fingertips tingle with the sensation. They’re the only thing that feels familiar. Their shape is reassuring.

I have an impulse to put them on—and in one motion, my body responds. My arm bends at the elbow, bringing the glasses to my face. It’s a sloppy motion, but I get them on. They feel at home here. It’s like I can be closer to Hazel this way.

I realize they’re helping me see. The blurry shapes are clear now. I’m in a hospital bed. There’s a blue curtain surrounding the bed, and medical machinery at my bedside. There are fluorescent lights above me.

But my vision has always been perfect.

I can’t make sense of it. My hair tickles my ear as I move my head and look around. It’s grown so long—how long was I unconscious? I have to know.

I can only move my arm clumsily. I lunge for the nurse’s call button, but I only sweep away the curtain. I can see beyond my bed now, into the room.

Suddenly I’m looking at Hazel. She’s in a bed across from me, our feet pointed toward each other, each sitting up in bed looking at each other. Her head from the glasses up is wrapped in bandages. Oh thank God, Hazel.

But she’s wearing her glasses too. That doesn’t make sense. My head twitches.

Hers does too.

I realize. I’m looking in a mirror. My brain is behind Hazel’s eyes.

I flash back to the café. The car hit me full in the chest. It covered me, engulfed me. I heard Hazel scream. Then her scream was cut short.

There were forms. I remember now. I couldn’t sign them—I couldn’t move. My body was destroyed. I would be a vegetable. Hazel’s body was intact, but her brain had been ruined by a shard of glass through the ear. They had said she was a match. They could do an operation. They had high hopes for its success.

I move my arm across the bedsheets. It’s not my own arm—it’s Hazel’s arm, with her soft skin, her peach-fuzz arm hair, and her tender fingertips.

Oh God. Hazel. I’m so sorry.


That’s it. I haven’t done any polishing on this, so it’s pretty raw. Felt fun to write though, and good practice. Remember:

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

See you tomorrow for the start of another story!


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