The first memories I have are happy ones, complete with a family; a mother, a father, a sister, a brother. The first memories are filled with laughter, smiles, and running. Always running. Running along the pier jutting out into the ocean near our luxurious beach house with my siblings to tell our parents about the dolphins we had seen. Running through the waves, rainbow pinwheel in hand, interrupting the gentle cycle of the waves reaching up to kiss the sand then slowly receding. Running from my father as we played a game of tag. Now, when I replay that scene in my mind, I realize that he wasn't really running, like I thought he was back then. Mostly he just jogged with a huge grin on his face, convincing me that someday I could be in the Olympics since I was so fast. Running haphazardly over the smooth wooden boards of our kitchen, waiting for my mother to finish making the macaroni. I always loved macaroni. Still do.
Running, running, running. Always running. Sometimes I pull out these happy memories when the white washed walls of my self-made cell become too overwhelming, on the days when the sad memories seem to be taking over and staining the innocent white walls of this prison into darkening shades of gray. I have more bad memories than good, you see. More memories of sitting than running. Sitting amongst the wreckage of a bright blue car, sitting and watching blood soak the ground. Sitting in the waiting room of the hospital when I was only 10 years old, waiting for the nurses to make my parents and my siblings better. Sitting still, unable to move, when they told me the news. They were gone. Sitting at the funeral, crying, crying, crying. Sitting in a little orange plastic chair in the church playground afterward, waiting for everyone to leave. And then, running.
Running, running, running. Running one last time. But this time the running wasn't to something, and it wasn’t running for play. This time I was running away. They wanted to find me a new family. A new mom and dad. A new brother and sister. But I couldn't let them. The new family wouldn’t know about the running. They wouldn't understand the memories. So I ran away, and I hid, and I ate whatever I could find. Usually it wasn’t much, but it was just enough to keep me alive. To keep me breathing. To keep my brain remembering. And then, once I stopped running away, I was halfway across the state. Somewhere where no one could find me. No one. Except my prison.
My prison always followed me, its white washed walls reminding me that I was no one. It was easier to keep the prison away when I was little because of all the happy memories. But once my family left, the prison won me over. And then the sitting began again.
Sitting on the street corner, shivering in ice cold sleet, watching cautious cars drive by through hooded eyes. Sitting some years later, my hair and beard both long, my body bruised and battered, clothes tattered, ribs showing through my skin, stupid toothless smile on my face, for I was visiting my happy memories again.
Sitting with a cardboard sign, and really not much else, except for the dirt and the bugs. The sign said "I need more happy memories, please, please help." But the world kept passing me by, just a nobody on the corner. They didn't understand about the memories, they didn't understand that I could've been in the Olympics 'cause I was so fast. They didn't understand about the macaroni, the pinwheels, the dolphins. They didn't understand about the running, or the sitting. I am ignored, but I suppose you always are when you're in prison.
Most days I live in white washed nothingness, the walls slowly closing in like that one army closed in on the other that one time in ancient history. But every once in a while, the walls of the prison change colors and expand a bit, fading back into memories of my childhood, or if I'm unlucky, of the memories after that. You might think I sound crazy, but I'm not. I just live in a prison. Not the typical bars-on-the-windows-guards-at-every-turn prison. Just a prison of the mind.
So ummm.... The story with this one.... Honestly I have no idea. It just kinda came to me... I don't really know what its about, except the main character I guess you could call him, is a guy, and he lives in a prison that his mind has invented. He's homeless, slightly crazy... But anyways, this is just kinda random, I hope it turned out ok Let me know if this needs to be flagged mature for ideologically sensitive content or not, cuz I wasn't really sure Comments welcome!
So, I was just wondering what you guys thought of this? Did the repetition of words help or hurt? Did you like the main idea of this/did you understand it or was it just a bunch of random stuff? Thanks!
Here are some feedback questions for :
1. Was this piece confusing because of the repetition and/or style/grammar? (If it is, what can I do to fix this without losing the idea of the man being half-crazy?)
2. What did you like most about this piece?
3. What did you like the least?
4. Was this impactful in some way?
I suppose I can start this by addressing the questions the author has in his/her description, as opposed to how I would traditionally do one of these. So, let's see here. "Was this piece confusing..." for some reason? No, this piece was not confusing; I found nothing was used redundantly, the style was fairly consistent the whole way through, and the grammar is pretty good.
"What did [I] like [the] most about this piece?" What I liked the most was the concept that the author portrays through this particular story. I find it particularly interesting to have to view this from the narrator's point of view, given specific memories with highly vague descriptions. The narrator tells us very early on, in the first paragraph in fact, that they have an "...uncanny ability to recall the slightest details in almost any scene...", yet what we get from the narrator are very vague descriptions of very specific moments in the narrator's life, like the early childhood vignettes, the entire second paragraph, in fact; "The first memories I have are happy ones, complete with a family; a mother, a father, a sister, a brother. The first memories are filled with laughter, smiles, and running. Always running." The author has given themselves the leeway to give us, as readers, descriptions of the mother, the father, the sister, and the brother, but chooses to stray away from this, instead moving into a short vignette of the narrator's early life, "Running along the pier jutting out into the ocean near our luxurious beach house with my siblings to tell our parents about the dolphins we had seen. Running through the waves, rainbow pinwheel in hand, interrupting the gentle cycle of the waves reaching up to kiss the sand then slowly receding. Running from my father as we played a game of tag." Again, here, there's the freedom, because of the narrator's impeccable memory, to give the readers much more description here. What exactly did the "luxurious beach house" look like? Prove it was luxurious, or at least paint a magnificent picture of why it would have seemed luxurious as a child. What was the beach like? What did the dolphins look like? I think we get the point. One of the major reasons that I find this tactic fails this story, which I suppose could go for the next question (What did you like the least), is that given all of this leeway, the author chose to present these scenes, as well as other more specific examples (which I will go into in just a moment) so vaguely. Now, from the reading, I can't tell if this was done intentionally for the sake of the story, which it very well may have, but the narrator gives no indication of why they would have reason for doing so if they have such an amazing recall. So, let's get into the next section of this, "What did [I] like least about this piece?"
The narrator of our story gives very specific similes in order to help us as readers gain a better understanding of their point of view. The very first one, "this prison is even more secure than that one prison on an island somewhere in some ocean." conjures up an image of a very familiar sounding prison (Alcatraz), but the narrator gives off a sort-of ignorant but I-know-what-I-mean sort of vibe because of this. Now this may simply be because the narrator is uneducated, as one could probably guess from the reading, if they ran away at such a young age, but they seem to have heard of it in some fashion or another.
The other example of this in this story is in the final paragraph when the narrator is describing the sort-of claustrophobic sense which they begin to feel, "...the walls slowly closing in like that one army closed in on the other that one time in ancient history." What would change if the narrator just gave an actual example from history? The Napoleonic Battle of Marengo when French forces drove the Austrians out of Italy, or if the author would more prefer an ancient battle, one could always look at Alexander the Great, with the Battle of the Granicus, for example. It may take a little bit of digging, especially if one is not quite so historically knowledgeable, but it would help the reading much more than a general description of any number of ancient battles (or prisons).
To conclude this, I didn't find that this story had a whole lot of impact. I think it has a lot of potential as a rough draft for something which would be quite a bit more detailed and meaningful, but this story as it sits, didn't hold too much favour with me, personally, however, there is plenty of room for improvement and expansion, should the author ever wish to revisit this one.
I think my Prison inside my head is more of the fear of the future