Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are lucid, righteous and salvage.

Mind Your Elders

There were moments when she was at her most lucid; details spilled from her painted lips like a powerful, frothy waterfall. She’d sit in a decrepit wingback chair near the windows and soak up the sun like a houseplant.
The rays made her talkative. Those were the days when someone should have been listening, recording maybe, since she was one of the righteous. A chosen soldier whose only crime was to grow old and frail.
The staff, in their white jumpsuits and crinkled paper hats, would spread a courteous smile when passing the talking elderly, prattling on about lives lived, things seen, deeds done. They may pat a hand, or touch their cold fingers on a shoulder, but listening was out of the question. Time moves forward and these wards of the state were the past.
So she continued to bemuse no one from the seat divots in her comfy chair, pausing every so often to tap a still-manicured nail against her front teeth, cluck her tongue and utter a soft, “Uh, uh uh,” when no one stopped to soak up the lessons she broadcast daily as her mind cleared from the I.V. drip they used to tether her to the steel-and-plastic hospital bed.
She had never found the time to have children and watched from her chair as her kin withered and disappeared. She knew not what became of the others, the elders, the keepers of knowledge, nor could she assess whether they had been able to disseminate their common message to the masses that seemed to preoccupied to care.
It had been years since they’d let her near a terminal, let alone a comm device.
So she broadcast in a small voice from that stained brown chair, a musty relic of a time past, and tried to salvage this world from its unavoidable collapse.

29 comments:

David Masters said...

A deeply sad story of a lovable, unloved character.

I especially liked the final paragraph - I wondered if you could have opened with the same, or a very similar, sentence.

anthonynorth said...

Sad and hard hitting. It's so easy to be unloved in this world - a tragedy. But excellently done, as always.

Americanising Desi said...

your words have enlarged the hole in my heart!

Lucid Picture

Crystal Phares said...

This is beautifully written, Thom. It is a sad and tender piece. Thanks so much for sharing!

Catherine Denton said...

My favorite line: "Time moves forward and these wards of the state were the past." Startling in it's horrible truth.
Winged Writer

madeline d. murray said...

The details you choose paint this portrait with swift grace. I like the way you slip in the suggestion that the setting is the future near the end of the story. Beautifully done.

ladygarfield said...

how sad! very well written.

mark said...

How profoundly sad. Yet, an insightful commentary on how we neglect our older generation...

Crybbe666 said...

Excellent reflection on society's disregard for its elders. Very nice, Thom. I liked this a lot.

Andy Sewina said...

Love the way you got inside her head, and great description too 'powerfully frothy waterfall' for example.

Somebody has to tell it like it is, Nicely Thom!!

Jay Thurston said...

So much can be learned from the wizened, but so few will listen.

Great read Tom!

Angel said...

Different from some of your stuff, but I like it.

peggy said...

Fix the typos. Fix the adverbs. Beyond that, the imagery is powerful (not powerfully!) and you have a strong piece that deserves to be submitted. Hopefully, to a paying venue.

Really Thom, this is really GOOD, but really, fix the typos.

Cathy Olliffe said...

Figures eh. There's somebody out there who can save our bacon and she's strapped to an IV pole in a ratty old chair, mumbling and drooling.

ThomG said...

Thanks for the beat-down Peggy. Hopefully, everything is fixed. It's been a wild week.

Thomma Lyn said...

Brilliantly written and heart-rending, and a poignant metaphor for growing old in a society that values superficiality instead of wisdom.

Lilibeth said...

Wonderful writing. I love the "soaking up the sun like a houseplant."

http://gildorianne.blogspot.com/2010/02/prayer-for-my-last-days.html

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Thought-provoking. I used to visit my grandmother at a nice, private facility, yet even there one could see the type you describe here. Some would talk if you seemed interested in listening. Others seemed to have moved beyond words.

fiona glass said...

Deeply poignant and beautifully written - every word counted.

April Lindfors said...

Very beautiful. I often wonder if you have plans to write a novel or if you already have..I love your writing style and would love to see a longer story/novel by you!

Life without Clots said...

Being old is not a smooth trip...

Tumblewords: said...

Doesn't say much for society, does it? You've written a poignant piece about the wisdom that dies with the elders. (Well, not all elders are wise. And not all die with their song unsung.) Nice work, as always.

Tim Remp said...

Hey Thom,

Powerful piece about being elderly. Very sad and loaded with true-isms.

-Tim

Deanna Schrayer said...

You said so very much with so few words here. Beautifully poignant story Thom. Bravo!

Dana said...

Very luscious prose. And very mysterious. I want to know more about the old lady.

Lucy said...

A chosen soldier whose only crime was to grow old and frail.

I feel for her and was so moved by your well told tale.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hi Thom,

I've gone a long time away from the eworld, again, and thanks for the words; these ones, this week, and the ones that arrived a few weeks ago...

I am going to continue Peggy's beat down, especially because I know what the normal is, for you.

"...when no one stopped to soak up the lessons she broadcast daily as her mind cleared from the I.V. drip they used to tethered her to the steel-and-plastic hospital bed."

I would bet money that you meant "tether", for example, rather than tethered.

But, really, this just tells me that you are super busy this week. And, possibly, stressed.

And I take off when things go a bit crazy whilst you keep putting your time and energy out here to all of us.

(And I start sentences with "and", sometimes, also.)

I have tended a couple of sites a couple of times... and I am delighted each time to return the responsibility.

Which is my way of saying don't sweat the typos too much. As long as you don't make them... :) Or leave them around... Who knows when fortune will be knocking on your site, no?

Anyway, back to comments that are on point.

Here is my take on why I like this piece...

I completely get your 'mind your elders' schtick and the poignancy and the tragedy tralala.

But, I keep wondering about the word choices that you have used to describe your elder's past.

And I know what a wordsmith you are, but, even if I didn't know that, your word choices stop me time and again and disrupt the empathy that seems the natural and normal end product of this type of story.

And I keep wondering what this soldier's back story is. She was powerful. She disseminated knowledge to the masses, presumably whether they wanted it or not.

I keep imagining her as a Gang of Four member. Or as a Honecker. Or somebody else nasty.

And my sympathy gets tempered right quick.

And the fact that I keep wondering and filling in backstory and conjecturing and wanting to know more... that is what makes me feel that this is another ThomG piece.

So, kudos.

Tschuess,
Chris

Lou said...

You had me at 'cold fingers'. I was very close to my great-grandmother when I was a child, so this was particularly heart-breaking to me. I remember, even at a very young age, making a point of letting her know I was *listening* to her, because I could see the rest of the world beginning to tune her out more and more as she became more fragile. I want to climb into this page and hold this woman's hand. Thank you for such a wonderful, poignant, piece of writing.

Dee Martin said...

Whew Thom, I know all about crazy weeks! I'm the last person who should say anything but I saw another typo - seemed to preoccupied. I loved this. I spent several years working in nursing homes and the whole tapping the teeth with her nail and making small noises is so spot on. I often wondered what was inside those minds that seemed locked up to the outside world.
I was a bit confused though about her being in a chair for most of the tale and then being tethered to a hospital bed. Might be just my tired brain though. It's good to be back from the land of techno - dweebs (of which I am one!). Now to start reading the other posts!