Wednesday, May 9, 2012

MFF#5- Elliott: Lost and Found by Tori L. Ridgewood

Welcome to Unwritten's  May Flash Fiction challenge! Every story (600 words max) begins with this sentence: 

 I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.


Today's selection from author Tori L. Ridgewood will take you on a mother's emotional journey, with an unexpected twist at the end. I think you'll like it! Read and be generous with comments!

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Elliott: Lost and Found

I never expected to be in this position so soon, saying goodbye to my son.  

      I paced the waiting room floor, counting the gleaming tiles under my feet.  Fourteen steps from the entrance to the spotless floor-to-ceiling windows.  Outside, in the corridor, nurses moved placidly in their quiet white shoes, unhurriedly completing their duties.
      Meanwhile, somewhere down the hall, Elliott, my only child, was disappearing.
      I desperately wanted a cigarette, even though I had never been a smoker.
      Don’t think of it as disappearing, I told my faint reflection.  He’s being reborn.  Becoming.  
      Realizing.
      Outside, on the lawn two stories below, a young woman accepted a dandelion offered by her own toddling boy.  I knew every inch of my son’s body, at that age.  I had taught him how to pee without wetting the seat, and reassured him that sitting was just as good as standing.  (Was that an early indicator?  What other signs had I missed?)  I remembered how he’d squawked when I first bathed his tiny limbs, the aimlessly waving hands and feet which were now the same size as my own.  I had held him close to my heart, and in the blink of an eye, he was grown.  Only the photo albums and my own memory remained as proof that this wonderful, intelligent, athletic person had once clasped me around the knees in order to keep from falling, as he took his first steps.
      In a way, I felt as though my son were dying.
      My throat burned uncomfortably.  I coughed to clear it, earning myself a sympathetic glance from a little old lady seated nearby on the peach vinyl couch.  Was her child here, as well, being reshaped by doctors into a more comfortable form?  Was she waiting to meet a person who was brand-new all over again, while still remaining the same?  Was she as confused, heartbroken, and hopeful as myself?
I wanted to ask her these questions, but my mouth was dry.
      I recalled a coffee station down the hall.
      Offering a half-smile by way of apology, I turned and walked the fourteen steps to the door and followed the neatly printed signage to the galley kitchen which was available to staff, patients, and visitors alike.  A fresh pot was brewing; its nutty aroma should have relaxed me with its familiarity, but instead my stomach jumped into knots.
      Elliott wouldn’t be different where it counted.  His interests were still the same.  His beautiful hands, long-fingered and delicate even in infancy, now produced award-winning abstract paintings.  His boisterous laughter had lightened in tone over the past months, but it still carried me along in its infectious joy.  We still shared our loves for running, camping, fishing, and cooking.  But after all the subtle and not-so-subtle alterations, I couldn’t help but mourn for the loss of the child I had raised.  I was proud of him for speaking out, for knowing himself so well, and beating the demon which had tempted him to take his own life.  The complete loss of my child would have been absolutely unbearable.  That he had even considered suicide devastated me.  
      The coffee was ready.
      I poured a cup with a surprisingly steady hand.  The worst had come and gone.  He was in the best hands, coming at last into himself.  My beloved son would be my beloved daughter.  And I would be there to welcome her, to hold her, as I had done before.  But when I wept for the loss of the boy she had been, would she understand?
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Tori L. Ridgewood is a full-time secondary school teacher, a mother, a partner, and a writer and reader of all things fiction and non-fiction.  Her published works include “Mist and Midnight” (Midnight Thirsts, 2011), “Telltale Signs” (Spellbound 2011), “A Living Specimen” (Midnight Thirsts 2, May 2012), and “Tabitha’s Solution” (Having My Baby, tbd).  Tori enjoys writing plays for her students, watching thunderstorms, walking her dog, needlework (quilting, cross-stitching, and embroidery), collecting miniature furniture, traveling, and watching movies.  Currently working on a trilogy of adult vampire novels to follow “Mist and Midnight”, Tori also plans to write young adult fiction in the near future.
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12 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the inspiration -- I really enjoyed writing this, Mysti!

    Cheers,

    Tori

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  2. Wow! This is a very powerful and brilliantly written story! I love the twist at the end! It could potentially have been a real heart breaker but I loved what you did with it.

    I may not be Roger Ebert - but this gets two thumbs up from me!

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    1. Thanks so much, Dan! I really appreciate your compliments, it means a lot to me (especially considering your own excellent piece!).

      Cheers,
      Tori

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  3. I absolutely loved it. :) Five stars! :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Dearest Tar! Big hugs!

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  4. Thanks for sharing. I bet the rebirth was/is a hard thing. I have a little friend who we watched grow up as a beautiful, kind boy. Quinten (kept her name) is now a gorgeous woman. She is so much happier, freer, and full of life. It is so much better to be the person you really are inside. All others just need to adjust. You are an awesome mother.

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    1. I am so flattered, Ey, that this story might be read as non-fiction, and thank you so much for telling me about Quinten. I agree with you completely: it's so important to be true to yourself. When I was thinking about this theme, I was considering how it might feel to a parent, mother or father, to be part of and observing this process. I think there would be happiness and relief, but also grieving, which is all part of transformation. Thank you so much for reading and enjoying my story!

      Much love and hugs,
      Tori.

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  5. This was unexpected, but such a powerful piece. Saying goodbye to one part of our life is a part of growing and no matter how hard it might be, sometimes it is for the best.

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  6. Truly great story, Tori. I loved it.

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  7. Going through this experience as a parent would just have to be excruciating. Thank you for showing a compassionate and understanding perspective. I can't even imagine the emotions that a parent would go through in this situation. My children have always been comfortable in the sexual form they were given at birth, and I am very thankful for that.
    Great story.

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  8. Not sure why I didn't comment after the first time I read this story because I felt the emotional energy projected. I enjoyed the surprise-for-me twist at the end. And this truly is a saying good-bye to the son -- while saying hello to an acceptance of the heart of the individual, where designators like 'son' or 'daughter' don't define.

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