General Flash Fiction posted August 18, 2012


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Flash Fiction Short Story

Head Trauma

by Onixxiya

Flash Fiction Writing Contest Contest Winner 
The first thing I heard was a cry and then the most almighty clatter as my baby boy came hurtling head first down the spiral staircase, three toy trains bouncing down after him. I darted over to the tiny heap at the bottom of the stairs. My heart was in my throat when I couldn't hear him crying. I calmed only fractionally when I realised he was still breathing. I must have called the ambulance, I remember them arriving but little else. There were some questions, something about head trauma, but in reality I was lost in a haze of panic that I couldn't wade my way out of...

It now has been three months since the accident and Jack still won't go near his train set, as though the trains themselves were responsible. I have told him not to worry and I have buried them in the garden so they can't come near him. He cuddles and sits with Benny Bear (the plush toy he was given as a baby that he hasn't looked at twice since he was two) but nothing else. No other toys are considered, anything new doesn't even get a glance.

Jack won't go out to see any of his friends, even those he spent so much time with before. He is six years old and has turned into a recluse. He is so quiet I hardly know he is home sometimes. My sister is a nurse and was at the hospital when Jack was admitted, thank God for her. Every evening after her rounds she comes to see us without fail. She and Jack used to be really close, he was always so excited to see her. Now when she comes in, Jack won't even acknowledge her presence. I tell him he needs to speak to his Aunty Julia, hoping this first step of communicating with someone other than me or Benny could bring him out this state, but nothing. Although trying to hide it to spare him the upset, I see the tears building up in her eyes every time it happens.

Once I have put Jack to bed, we talk. I update her on Jack's progress and what we have been doing throughout the day. I admit I have been overplaying his recovery since the accident, mainly because I have heard her on the phone when I have been tucking Jack in. The snippets I have caught, "not getting better", "going to have to do something", are not endearing her to me. It is perfectly normal for children to make friends of their soft toys, even if they have become preferable to real ones. And at least he is talking to me, and he will start talking to her soon. He may be making slow progress, but he is improving, I know it.

This evening went as per usual, but I could see in her face that something was wrong. I asked her and asked again and she just wouldn't come out with it. All the more frustrating was the fact that Jack kept getting out of bed and so there's me, running up and down the stairs endlessly - it doesn't lend itself to even a half decent interrogation. She thinks I am tucking him back into bed now, but I can hear her on the phone in the downstairs hallway so I sneak up to the banister and crane my ear....

"Hi Jodie. No, it's just not getting any better, I don't think I have any choice now. She insists that Jack is fine, only quiet. The truth just isn't getting through. Is that spare bed still available on the Dali Ward? Ok, thanks, it will have to do for the time being until I can get hold of the asylum in the morning."

My eyes widen in horror and I realise what she is going to do. I won't let her take my baby boy from me. If we are quick enough we can climb out of the window, get in the car and be long gone before she even notices. I know there is still time because, although I can't hear the details as I steal back into Jack's room, the perpetual flow of traitorous conversation continues.

"No, I don't think she remembers the funeral at all, she is convinced he is still alive, and she keeps telling me how he is getting better every day. She is definitely not taking her meds any more. We need to bring her in. Can you send the ambulance round?"

Jack is out of bed again! I whisper urgently for him, but I can't find him anywhere...





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