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Mairead O'Neill, 02 Aug '12

His head falls back, and idly he blows smoke up towards the ceiling. Blue eyes roll around in their sockets, and suddenly his head feels heavy and he sits forward again, head slumping down, unfocused gaze falling to the concrete of the floor. His eyelids flutter shut, and the cigarette burns on in his hand as the visions start to come.
They come swiftly, during the daytime - fast and sharp and very real - the dark head of a lover, slim white hands on his arms, the whisper of breath on his neck - each one burns him like acid but he never wants them to stop.
The images aren't so harsh at night, they are instead gentle; they come softly, and they are perfect and endless - but he hasn't slept in days.
When he next starts paying attention - when he is back in the 'real world' - the floor is cold under his bare feet and his brother is standing over him. "Social withdrawal," his brother's voice is saying. "Loss of motivation. Poor judgement. Low standards of hygeine. Apparent dysphoria." His sister is by the door, uncertain in the background. Her blonde hair is shining under the lights. Suddenly everything seems too bright. He closes his eyes.
"Look at me!" His brother's eyes are bright and furious. "Symptoms of schizophrenia. You need to get out of this basement and see a doctor. I'll arrange it." The words sound like some kind of strange and lovely symphony.
"I'm concerned," his brother is saying, leaning down, peering into his face. "You've been seeing things again, haven't you? You've been seeing him?"
He does not want to answer. "He's not here," his brother says. "He's miles away. Schizophrenia can be brought on by childhood trauma, Theodore. Living in an urban environment. Social adversity. I'm only surprised it took this long to manifest itself."
He tries to speak, but the words won't come, and then when they do come, they're not the right words. His voice is strained. His brother shakes his head, looking sad. "Disorganized speech patterns. I'm sorry, Theodore. I'm sorry that this has happened."
"We'll fix it, Theo," his sister is saying softly from the corner. "We'll fix you all better, honey. Don't you worry." She slips out of the room.
His brother continues to stand over him for a while, gazing at him, his bright slash of a mouth twisted with unease and uncertainty. "She's right, you know," he says eventually. "We'll fix you."
His brother leaves too, and Theodore quietly revels in the knowledge that they won't. They won't, they won't take the lovely memories away from him, they won't.

Comments · 9

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  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Welcome to Burrst Mairead. Wonderful debut and a perfect closing. I look forward to reading your next :)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mairead O'Neill said...

    Thank you! I'm delighted that you offer everyone such positive and helpful feedback. I'm much obliged :)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Ross Tarran said...

    Great description, especially in getting across the hazy way Theodore perceives the world.
    Natural, believable dialogue too. Liked!

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mairead O'Neill said...

    Thank you so much! :D

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Daniel Williams said...

    I really liked the discord in the story. The form suited the subject very well.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mairead O'Neill said...

    Thank you Daniel! You're very kind. I appreciate constructive praise like this. :)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mairead O'Neill said...

    Thanks Liam!! :D

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Jessica Cambrook said...

    Wow! I love your style of writing, it's so poetic even about ordinary things or his schizophrenia. The story was intriguing and I like how it's written in present tense. If it was written in past tense we would know he was alright but it adds mystery not knowing what happens even a second after the story finishes. Really good :)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mairead O'Neill said...

    Thank you so much Jessica!! :)

    • Posted 6 years ago