My hands are frozen, my legs feel like heavy lead. My head is pounding, every cell in my body screaming for oxygen. I’m going to die. I don’t want to die. I scream for help. But nobody is looking for me. The only one looking at me is him. Unseeing, unblinking, his eyes grotesque and bulging. “Help me,” he pleads.

Insomnia haunts my nights; fatigue rules my days.
I reach for my PTSD pills. I don’t want the chemicals, but I can’t survive the dreams.

Because sometimes the dream changes; sometimes the unseeing eyes are mine.

Trauma effects not only the survivors but the rescuers too.
In 2011, the World Aquatic Health Conference recognised PTSD as a legitimate concern amongst life guards, particularly because the profession regularly employs teenagers and requires making split second decisions that have life and death consequences.

This work of fiction was written in response to Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday: Week 92 challenge based on a photo by Alex Iby


Brick by brick he boxes himself in.

There is a hammer in my hand and I’m tempted to strike at those walls, but experience has taught me a lot. Hammers reinforce. For every strike, he builds up another layer.

I must be like flowing water. Calm, soothing, undemanding, persistent; wearing the walls down so gradually that even the brick doesn’t know.

His counselor and I have managed to open a few windows. The playful light beams dance about keeping him from plunging into the total dark.

But there are other hammers. Hammers that I neither wield nor control. My eyes do not hold enough water to sooth their blows away.

In response to Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers challenge of 12 October 2018, based on a photo prompt contributed by her.


Baring my heart, surrendering my trust,
opening my mind to new possibilities.

Stepping through the door, seeking light, spirituality,
I seek to drive away the loneliness.

Wandering, trapped, in a maze of blind belief,
I don’t even realise that I am lost.

In response to Week 137 of Three Line Tales prompt based on a photo by Nathan Wright via Unsplash

The Window

The room is basic, functional.

Most of my day is spent staring out of the lone window.

Occasionally my son stops by. The visits are brief. I have nothing important to say and he is too busy to linger. Sometimes I ask him to fix something. The frustrated expression on his face tells me that I have lived long enough to be a burden.

It’s cold by the window in the evenings, like standing before an open refrigerator.

This year I spent money on a thicker coat at the thrift store. It doesn’t make my face any warmer or stop the frost that settles on the ledge, but it makes me look less poor on the rare day that I step out onto the street. Unless someone looks closely at my shoes. But no one does. No one cares.

Written in response to Rochelle’s Sunday Fictioneers challenge of 7 Sep 2018 prompted by a photo by Gah Learner

The Mirror

I sit here, before it, wondering…

At first I thought it might be dirty. That could not be. That should not be. I clean every square inch of this house myself. An immaculate home and hearth are a woman’s pride.

I did not see it in the morning, but I dared not dwell. There were meals to be cooked, boys to be dressed, school runs to be made…

If I had the time to comb my hair then perhaps I might have wondered earlier, but who has time for vanity. Like he says, I’m just a store keeper, not the window dressing.

And now that the day is done I sit here wondering…

Why can I not see my reflection in the mirror? Has the light faded, or have I ceased to exist?

In response to Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers challenge based on a photo prompt by Nathan Sowers