Pocket Plots

5 Minute stories that fit in your pocket!

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Bull in a China Shop

Depression is one of those hard to explain conditions but it’s something that most people have experienced at least some time in their life. At an intrinsic level, we’re all the same; no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves of our differences, emotions are a reaction to hormones which are a chemical reaction.

On the outside I seem okay.  I am happy; I am organised and; I am normal.  Yet on the inside I am broken.  I am a piece of china that when you see from the distance is beautiful and perfect, but on close inspection you see where someone has glued it back together.  It is in a million pieces and while it may have been expertly put back together; it is no longer the strong individual piece it once was. Now, all it would take to break it again, is a knock in the wrong way.

Which brings me to where I am now.  I’ve been dropped and broken so many times in my life. zOn most occasions, the breakage has been indirect. No one came and deliberately knocked me over, but as the items of china next to me become shattered, their remnants knock me over and break me.  While I’ve been frantically trying to put all the pieces back together, another piece of china smashes into me, making the task all so much harder again.

It’s quite frustrating when you are putting something back together that keeps falling apart while you work.  I want to fix it whole before it’s broken again.  I want to look beautiful again.  Even if it’s only from a distance.

How does one turn a life of broken pieces into a life of success and happiness?  How does one take ownership of the reigns of their own life?  Since my birth, I have been under the care of someone else.  I could pass on my responsibility to someone else.  I did not have to be accountable for my own actions because I could always blame someone else.

*

We all start out as children.  We all have a clean slate and it’s up to those around us to make that china beautiful.  It’s up to those around us to form the intricate patterns on the delicate material, hoping not to break it.  As time goes on, it gets harder.  Unless you’ve treated the material well and taken the steps to strengthen it each time you’ve added to it, it becomes weaker.

In our own little china shop worlds, we live on a shelf of china.  Yes, the patterns are all different and each piece has its own purpose.  But we are all the same.  We are all delicate pieces of breakable goods.

We are put on a shelf with other pieces of china.  The longer we are there, the more pieces are added and the greater the risk of becoming broken.  We can’t keep expecting the same people to look after our whole, because china can’t look after china.  If you knock one piece against another, both become stressed and at risk of chipping.

As those pieces around us fall, we take our own knocks and damages and if one piece on the shelf shatters bad enough, the fall out is disastrous.  Then there are too many pieces, and no one can decide which piece belongs to whom.

Who is responsible for breaking me?  Is it the china that broke next to me?  Is it the china that broke them?  Is it the bull in the china shop?  Who is responsible for protecting me?  Do I allow the broken pieces to scratch me, to knock me, to break me?

Time and time again I want to give up putting together the pieces.  Time and time again I want to be thrown out because is broken china worth it? Especially when every time you take painstaking effort to glue the pieces together a bull is released into the shop, again?

Sometimes I wonder if putting things together causes the bull to be set loose.  The caretaker of the china takes the broken pieces away to fix the item only to put it back in the shop.  Maybe the bull never leaves.

*

When I consider the situation I am in, I realise I am scared.  I have been broken so many times I am scared that by being broken again it may be the final time I could possibly be put back together.  I am that person, in the back of the shop, painstakingly putting pieces back together.  There are others there, helping to put the pieces of their items back together too.  Sometimes they knock me.  Sometimes their pieces mix in with mine.

I don’t want to finish.  I am scared that by finishing I will then become vulnerable.   And that’s why I have difficulties finishing anything I start.

I want to be successful.  I want to be whole again.  I want to be happy.  But I know I will always be broken.  I know that I am always at risk of being knocked over and the higher on that shelf I get, the further it is to fall.  How can I even subject myself to that?  Would it not be better to leave that last part lost and remain in the back, safe from the bull?

*

Analogies are great for helping me understand myself and recognise my feelings.  It is a way to detach myself from who I am and analyse things from an objective angle.  Because at the end of the day, I don’t know why I have trouble finishing things.  I suspect it be because I am scared of success; or at least the potential for failure that comes with it, but I can’t pin point that moment when I felt that way.

When did things become so hard?  When did I start caring about what others thought about me?  When did it begin to hurt so much?

Life has, without question, dealt me several hard blows.  Thankfully I was on the sidelines, but that was not the case for those I love. They were the hardest hit.  But does receiving the effects of the blow from the sideline negate my own experiences? It is those on the sidelines that are neglected.  They are the ones that take the shrapnel and are expected to get over it the quickest.  While I did not have the bull’s horn pierce me directly, it knocked me over and being knocked over meant I got broken.

*

When a person comes to admit that only they are responsible for themselves, things change.  There comes a time when you realise that everyone has let go that’s why you keep on falling.  And while some may try to pick you up or give you support, it is all up to you to make the most of what you’ve got.  It is up to you to run the shop.

My moment of realisation came in July of 2014. I was struggling.  There were so many pieces of my life in front of me and I didn’t know where each one belonged.  I’d pick up pieces and put them in, only to find they didn’t quite match up.  I was ready to throw my life away.  To give up and simply cry.

All I wanted to do, by then, was to focus on my children.  My life was a loss and there was nothing else left.  I didn’t want to be responsible for knocking over the china that was my children.  So I gave up on any hope for myself.  That was until I recognised that I no longer had someone else to look after me.  Only I was responsible for me.  Only I could put myself back together and only I could protect myself.

With my motivation renewed, I had hope.  I had direction.

*

I have spent so much of my life has procrastinating; putting off what could be done today and doing it tomorrow.  I was too scared to have nice things.  Too frightened to achieve.

A few days ago, I decided I would finish putting my china back together and put it on display.  I hated being away from the other items on the shelf.  With attentive and laborious effort, I glued piece and with delicate precision I placed it on the shelf.  Because I wanted to be responsible for the wellbeing of my china. I wrote a note.

“Do not touch.” It said.  Perhaps the bull could read.

But I forgot the nature of the bull.  It is not the bull that pushes me over.  It is not the bull that touches me.  It is the shrapnel thrown my way.  He was still in the shop.  And I must have made the note red, because within moments – seconds, I had been knocked over again.  Broken again.

Once again I was out the back, repairing the damage to my china.  The glued together pieces now adding to the final appearance.  This piece will never be the same and I must learn from the experiences.  I can’t live next to the china that just shatters when it’s looked at.  I can’t be hit by any more shrapnel. I just can’t take it anymore.

But I don’t want to give up either.  I’m sick of almost finishing things.  I am sick of being met with barriers and giving up.  I am sick of being scared of success.

There is another way.  I can display my china elsewhere in the shop.  I must remember that this piece is special.  It is a rare piece of art.  A one of a kind.  Yes the material and makeup is the same as the rest, but this piece, it has potential.

There’s a locked cabinet in the shop.  One that is strong and stable, only it is small.  It will protect a few pieces of china from the bull, but it can’t take too many, because that would allow for imbalance and dangerous display.

I’ve opened the cabinet and I’ve put the mended china in there, complete with its matching items; four in total.  Safe from the bull.

I cried.  Because I can still see the china across the room, shattered and in a mess, but I can’t clean it up.  It’s not my responsibility.

*

Being secluded from that which gives you pain, gives you time to think about things.  What was it I wanted out of life? I became to realise that fear resulted in my lack of desire to finish. By putting myself in the cabinet, I recognised the need to release emotions I was holding in.  Otherwise they might make me unstable and I’d fall over no matter where I put myself.

And that’s why I started writing.  For once, I would not give up until it was done.  I needed to be in control.  I needed to be the one to create the sunshine in my life.  I needed to change my china shop into a candy shop and enjoy the rest of my life.  And I want to write.  I want to succeed.

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Screams from the Dark

It was not the darkness itself that was frightening; it was the grotesque screams being emitted from it that petrified Kim. They were screams of agony and excruciating pain. Kim peered into the room, squinting her eyes to focus on what limited light was there. She held back from entering, hovering around the door.

“Hello?” Kim called out in caution. Another gut-wrenching scream pierced her ears in response. Kim’s stomach clenched, and she pressed her head forward, willing her eyes to adjust. She could make out large mounds of solid shadows, but evidence of the scream’s creator could not be seen.

Kim held her breath as she listened, hoping for more clues. There were no sounds of a struggle. No furniture moving. No banging. Silence permeated the room before another scream filled the void. It came from the right. Kim stepped closer to the door, pressing it even further open, casting light from the hallway onto the wooden floorboards. It didn’t improve her vision of the rest of the room. Kim ran her hand across the inner wall, feeling for a switch.

The brightness of the light blinded Kim. She blinked as her pupils retracted and she focused on the furniture in the room which she identified as the shadows she had seen in the darkness. Muffled sobs from behind a closed door on her right reminded Kim of her purpose.

“Hello? I’m here to help.” She called again.

Kim pushed the door, and it swung open to reveal a young girl curled up on the bed. Her long dark hair was damp and clung to her face. The girl looked up, pleading with her eyes, as her body tensed and she released another scream. Kim scanned the room, illuminated by a solitary lamp in the corner. Her heart raced as she searched, but she didn’t know what she was looking for.

“Hospital… please…” The girl whispered.

Prompted by her pleas, Kim rushed to the girl and grabbed a blanket as she helped the girl to her feet. As Kim led the girl towards the doorway, she collapsed in pain again. Kim dropped the blanket to hold the girl, stopping her from falling to the ground. It was then she noticed the blood.

“Oh, God.” Kim muttered to herself. She picked up the blanket and threw it across the girl’s shoulders. “You will be okay.” She said to the girl, sounding more confident than she felt.

Kim struggled to guide the girl to her car. At one stage Kim tried to pick the girl up to carry her, but she wasn’t strong enough. The girl climbed into the back of Kim’s red Honda and pulled the blanket over herself. Her eyes bore a detached and distant glare, causing Kim to wonder if death was imminent.

The roads were busier than normal. More chaotic and problematic. Kim weaved past cars, resisting to push the speed limit. While she wanted to get to the hospital fast, she didn’t want to risk a car accident. The girl’s screams were becoming more frequent and urgent. Kim tried to block them from penetrating her mind. She turned on the radio and sang along to the song.

Kim parked the car in the emergency drop-off point of the hospital and opened the back door of the car. The girl sat up and rubbed her face, taking Kim’s hand for help out of the car. As she stepped her feet out of the door, she pulled them back towards her body and screamed. Kim waited for a moment and then helped her to the hospital entrance.

The hospital orderlies rushed the girl away, leaving Kim to wait in the waiting room. She took a seat and picked up a magazine. It was four months out of date. Kim looked up at the clock, four twenty three. Everyone was oblivious to Kim’s presence. Hospital staff walked past and new patients came in. No one even looked her way.

At four fifty six, the girl’s parents came through the door. Kim looked up, but they didn’t see her. Instead they approached the desk, and the nurse directed them to the same doors the girl had disappeared through. Kim could hear her screams as the doors opened, but they were distant now, many rooms away.

Kim watched the time elapse on white clock hanging on the wall. The slender, black hand appeared to move in slow motion. Five oh eight. Five oh nine.

Kim stood up and walked around the waiting room. The prolonged absence of movement had caused her legs to become numb. She approached the desk and asked for the girl’s progress, but they couldn’t tell her. She paced the room, glancing between the clock on the wall and the doors the girl had gone through.

Six eighteen. That was when the doors swung open and a woman wearing hospital scrubs called her name. The woman gestured for Kim to follow. Kim walked behind the nurse through the doors and hall. She couldn’t hear the screams of the girl anymore. Had she died?
The nurse led Kim to a door and held it open for her to enter. Laughter, not tormenting cries, drifted to her ears. The nurse was smiling.

“You can go in now. Everyone is doing well.”

Kim’s eyes winced at the brightness of the room. As they adjusted she could see the girl’s parents next to the bed. They greeted Kim with smiles. Her glance then went to the girl in the bed. Kim burst into tears when the girl held out a small package wrapped in a blanket for her to take.

Kim brought the package near her chest and pulled the blanket open to reveal her niece she had waited nine months to hold.