The young man paced back and forth, muttering and fretting. With his upmarket Converse sneakers and backpack, he was obviously one of those tourists who were coming around nowadays to admire our ‘quaint seaside town’.

My curiosity getting the best of me I ask, “Excuse me. May I help you?”

“I need to go up there.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“There’re 11 steps.”

“OK. So?”

“No. NO. 11 is not right. I can’t climb 11.”


“Prime Number.”

Anyone else might have thought him crazy, but I’ve seen Aunt Elsie. Turning every lock 4 times. Washing every plate 4 times. Crazy Elsie we used to call her, running up behind her and turning the lock another time, making her start all over again. Until the day she decided to lock herself in the kitchen and turn all four gas burners on. We never even got to say sorry.

“Well, there is a ramp if you go around.”

I hope that’s easier on him.

In response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of October 7, 2018, based on a photo by John Brand.

23 thoughts on “Eleven

  1. Good story. I was pleased that it ended on a kindly note. It’s not the same thing, I know, but I’ve had several experiences of being stuck behind someone who had great difficulty stepping onto, or off, an escalator. The latter is worse as it presents a physical challenge, as well as testing the patience!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the escalator predicament – we see it a lot, more with the elderly. But compulsion disorders are more unfortunate and there is not enough awareness about it.


      1. I couldn’t agree more. Although there have been some attempts to incorporate characters with compulsion disorders into TV dramas, there seems to have been a tendency to take a comic angle deliberately or to run out of steam with the story line before viewers come to understand the character fully. In the early 2000s a film called “Dirty Filthy Love” was made for UK TV. It featured two excellent actors in the main roles and, I thought, presented the issues of OCD and Tourette’s in a sensitive and thoughtful way (even allowing for the strap line “A Compulsive Disorder comedy”). Unfortunately it wasn’t that widely viewed and I don’t think the title would have been that helpful in attracting an appropriate target audience.


      2. Hi Sheena, I don’t think the film is available on any of the main streaming services, but the full version can be found on YouTube. If you look for it, please check it’s the right film before you press play (the title might bring up movies that you’d rather not see!). The two main characters are played by Michael Sheen and Shirley Henderson.


  2. Nice story. Aunt Elsie was a tragedy. Yet the story shows what a mental obsession can do to a person. Is this a kind of mania?


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