One Thing

He only did one thing well.

This new medication, it – went to his head. In the coffee shop he tapped out a sequence on the table, tappity-to-tap-to-tappity-to-tap, until he got it right. Those people were looking but he had a book and you can go to a coffee shop with a book and sit all day.

Sweat began to form on his brow and he shouted. A short burst about the color blue which he hated, especially sky. Then he thought of the park with its green, and shivered once.

Those people, smiling at the other table. And the ones at the park with the children. They did things well, he was sure of it. Had money, and boats. He knew they were watching him so he was careful but still – he knew they did many things well.

But at least he had one thing, he thought.

He crossed at the crosswalk. Waited for the white pedestrian light until he could walk and then he ran. He ran for the bench at the park with the twisty jungle-gym and the children laughing. Then the howling. The howling from his dreams and the horse hooves like thunder he couldn’t stop any of it, they were laughing, he remembered that deformed dwarf telling him…what? So ugly and ungodly, face of a vagrant, a heart-thief, twisted like the striated muscles he could almost see in his own flesh.

The switchblade made a “thok” sound when he opened it. Solid and for a minute everything stopped, like when the noon church bells passed the twelve mark and there was nothing but pigeons flying scared.

Then they started again, this time louder, a Mongolian horde pressing across the plain straight for his brain. He knew he could do one thing.

As he stepped onto the chair, later, carefully balancing himself, he heard muffled shouts outside. He looked at the rope and it seemed to him that the knot he’d tied there was the best one he had ever made.

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About David

Prone to musing and to being prone. Father to two, writer, engineer.
This entry was posted in fiction, prose. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to One Thing

  1. jannatwrites says:

    This is sad. How miserable to be stalked and terrified by your own mind. The last paragraph about the knot and the rope and standing on the chair was chilling. Though we don’t know for sure what happens next, we can surmise that it’s a desperate attempt to find peace.

    • David says:

      I was going for an “ordinary terror” — something more subtle than the supernatural — when I chose this subject. It’s not only that he’s terrified by his own mind and wants it to stop, but I also left open the question of what happens with the children on the playground. Serious mental illness is scary for both the bearer of the illness and for society. Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. pileofbabies says:

    Wow. This is fantastic.

  3. Grace Black says:

    This was paced just right. So very sad, a haunting kind of creepy. Thanks for sharing!

    • David says:

      Yes! A haunting kind of creepy was what I wanted — and also, shooting for something kind of real. Thank you so much for reading, and for your comments!

  4. Angela Death says:

    Amazing! I have no other words for it. You did an excellent job taking this prompt away from the supernatural and into the world of deep and brutal mental illness.

  5. Suzanne says:

    This is fantastic David! You’ve done such a good job telling this from his perspective – chaotic and disjointed. I love the vagueness around what might have happened at the park. And that last sentence is excellent.

    Thanks so much for linking up with us this week!

    • David says:

      Thank you, Suzanne! Very happy to have finally gotten myself onboard here. I’m so glad you enjoyed the piece. It was fun (but also a little unnerving) getting into the head of that character.

  6. What a wonderful story! I love the narration. Give me an unstable narrator any day!

    • David says:

      Yes! Let’s hear it for unstable narrators! I’m both drawn to, and repelled by, such characters. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story — thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  7. Justice says:

    I like how this was so grounded in “daily terror.”

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