Mobility Scooters

Black and White Time Lapse Photo of ConcourseSitting there, on that bench, wasn’t something he particularly enjoyed.  But, as the years crumpled at his feet and the summit slowly revealed itself, he had been drawn to it.  He guessed it was because of the noise.  There was always noise.

The bench was at a cross section in the shopping centre, between the Starbucks and the Costa, and continually had a stream of coffee addicts flowing between the two cafés, some of them breaking against the thin metal frame of the bench and cascading into the clothes shops that lined the capitalist riverbank.  This constant flow carried with it, like children holding helium balloons, all the joys and sadness’s of the day and displayed them to the world in bubbling, unapologetic voices.

It was amid this storm that Charles would come and sit, his ancient knees bent at a perfect right angle and his hand clutching the cold arm rest like a sailor holds on to the bow of his ship.  The noise of life would wash around him, and he would let himself drown without a struggle.  Sometimes he would close his eyes and just listen, other times he would lift his heavy eyes to the faceless clones who hurried past and try to draw from them a reaction.  He never got one.

The only people who ever paid him any attention were the shop mobility people.  Once every hour or so, a fresh faced youngster would bound up and start apologising for being able to walk, run and skip, and then offer a scooter or a helping arm in some way of compensation for their overly rude and ostentatious ability to move about freely.  Charles disliked them immensely.

It wasn’t that he felt they were being patronising, or even that their motivations were coming from anywhere other than a kind place, but they just didn’t understand.  They failed to realise that he was who he was, and he liked who he was.  Yes, the world seemed to have left him behind, but that didn’t mean he wanted to keep up with it.

He wanted to finish the marathon of life his own way.  However long it took his shaking legs to take him over the line, he didn’t care, as long as he did it himself.  What would be the point in taking part if, half way through, the race organisers realised he wasn’t able to keep up with the professional athletes out front, so gave him a mobility scooter for the rest of the race?  It was a denial of who he was, how old he was, and what he could do.   He had accepted he was going to limp over the finish line, why couldn’t they?

After a particularly rosy faced and bright eyed looking mobility pixie had insisted that her lack of height was nothing to the trials and tribulations he must face in taking an extra few minutes to walk along the road, Charles decided he needed to go to the lavatory.

Well, in fact, he didn’t need to go yet but he knew that it had been almost two hours since his last visit and so soon his bladder and prostate would gang up on him and start shouting out orders.  If he waited till then, of course, he’d be much too late, so he heaved himself off the bench and stalked, like a wobbling elm in a gale, to the public toilets.

The round trip, including the mini ice-age he had spent standing at the urinal waiting for his muscles to catch up with what was going on, took around twenty minutes, and then he was back on his bench, clutching the arm rest and listening to the music of the masses.

As Charles sat there, twinges periodically dancing up his left arm, he couldn’t help but inwardly laugh at himself.  He was a stubborn fool he knew, refusing the help the world was trying to offer him because he felt that meant he would be giving in, while at the same time he sat here pining after the life that the rest of the world seemed to be enjoying.  He knew that he came to this bench because his home was so quiet.  At home, he already felt dead.  The house was cold, silent and unvisited.  It was a grave in all respects other than having a headstone.

He wanted to be full of life, he wanted everything that the cascading river had to offer, but he knew he could never have it.  The only way he could join them, was to become one of them.  To stop being himself.   The he who sat on this bench, who would die sitting on this bench, couldn’t sit anywhere else, especially not the leather armchair of a mobility scooter.


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  1. #1 by Tinkerbell on May 9, 2012 - 5:12 pm

    I enjoy your writing and the descriptions, but this one confused me a bit about the “marathon.” You said “marathon of life” in one line, but then described a real marathon. What did I miss?

    My favorite line is this one so poetically written:
    “It was amid this storm that Charles would come and sit, his ancient knees bent at a perfect right angle and his hand clutching the cold arm rest like a sailor holds on to the bow of his ship.”

    Nice to meet you through your writings.

    • #2 by Gaston Prereth on May 9, 2012 - 5:49 pm

      Thank you very much for your kind words.

      The Marathon mentioned was meant to be purely metaphorical, the finish line being death etc., but possibly the illusion was lost because at the same time I wanted to use the metaphor to show how Charles was desperate to finish his life unaided, to finish things on his terms.

      Thank you for pointing it out, often I find flash fiction brings these stylistic weaknesses to the fore and allows you to examine them with a critical eye.

      Do you write flash fiction (or any other kind) yourself?

      • #3 by Tinkerbell on May 9, 2012 - 7:12 pm

        Aha, so there wasn’t an actual marathon other than life for him that he wanted to reach? What a good idea

        And yes, I guess that’s true about flash fiction, everything has to be precise. I like the quality of fiction that starts off a bit confusing until the reader gets to the end.

        I love reading flash fiction, had one course back in college on short fiction. Never really written any short stuff until recently which I haven’t yet finished.

        You have a large portfolio here! I have just gotten back to my blog and aside from finishing a novel, I am enjoying filling it up with some writing. How do you do it so prolifically?

      • #4 by Gaston Prereth on May 10, 2012 - 9:04 am

        Well there is nothing like writing a novel to help me get distracted by lots of different things other than the chapter I’m meant to be focused on. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d like recently so haven’t been adding as many pieces to my blog.

        The trick with flash fiction is to give yourself a time limit, an hour maybe two, and a word limit of 500 to 1000 words. This helps you be creative and also prevents you going back and constantly tweaking it. I wrote this one when I was struggling for inspiration:

        Oh and I’m perfectly happy for you to reblog any of my stories on your own blog if you like, that is why they’re up here.

  2. #5 by Tinkerbell on May 11, 2012 - 12:04 am

    Thank you for the tips, I really appreciate it =)

    I find time limits help when I am feeling “stuck” or hesitant. Other times, just allowing myself to express some thoughts or feelings through writing. (Key word “allowing.”)

    Sometimes we forget that writing is our expressions, not just verbal constructions that should be made perfect for the reading.

  3. #6 by SCG on January 12, 2013 - 4:55 am

    This is very sad and at the same time kind of inspiring. I am not sure what to think, therefore I know that it has made an impact. Thanks.

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