6 Apr

“All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” Edgar Allan Poe

100 word story for Madison Woods’ FridayFictioneers. Find hers here and read all the other great stories, leave comments and a link to your story if you’ve decided to get your feet wet. Aloha, D.

Water fills my mouth with the taste of loam. Sunbeams illuminate my slowly billowing dress as I tumble along the muddy bottom into unbearable brightness and a letting go.

It was just a recurring dream until I saw the picture in a travel magazine. I knew the spot even though I’d never been there before today.

County records note the drowning of a four-year-old girl in the War Eagle River on Maundy Thursday, April 1969. Three states distant and one day later, on Good Friday, I came wailing into this world.

I stand on the river bank, unhinged in time.

51 Responses to “Unhinged”

  1. writelindy April 6, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    All I can say is Wow. Loved this one. Very powerful stuff.

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 11:20 am #

      Dear Lindy,

      Thanks. I am truly gratified that you enjoyed Unhinged. I didn’t know whether it had enough sinew to it and your kind comments tell me that perhaps it did.



  2. Sandra April 6, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    This was very persuasive take on reincarnation Doug, relating to a theme I’ve given a lot of thought to, but still not yet come up with a convincing story around it. You’ve come pretty close here with just a few words. Very nice, almost mystical work. Well done.

    I’m at: http://castelsarrasin.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/reaching-a-conclusion-friday-fictioneers-april-2012/

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      Thanks for your comment. Try to find a book called The Search for the Girl with the Blue Eyes (or a close approximation of that). You may like it. Non-fiction.

      Really enjoyed your walk beside the river. (evil smile here)



  3. Jacinda Little April 6, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    This is delightfully haunting…and convincing.

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      Dear Jacinda,

      100 words proved precious little space to be convincing so your last word in your comment was especially appreciated. Thanks.



  4. Joseph E. Lerner April 6, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Lovely. Especially that last line. It makes me realize how cumulative a poem is, how crucial that last line. Mine’s here: http://furiousfictions.com.

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Thanks Joe,

      Headed your way now.



  5. Judee April 6, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Wow, very creative!

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Judee,

      Thanks for your comment and exclamation mark. I’ll go and find your story on madison’s page.



      • Judee April 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

        sorry, I should have mentioned I didn’t do one this week – taking some time out for rest.

  6. TheOthers1 April 6, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Gosh, I’m terrible at leaving good comments. I wanted to say that this was very interesting and kinda eerie. Reincarnation isn’t something I believe it, but reading this and thinking about possible experiencing someone else’s life (particularly the end of it) was a hair frightening. I think you did well here. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Thank you, my dear, for your thoughts and kind words. In the grand equation of life I provide a counterbalance to your skepticism re reincarnation. Won’t know one way or the other for a while, I hope.



  7. Laura Dunlap (@auralind) April 6, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    Dear Doug,
    An unusual and dreamy little piece – and a nice quote from Edgar. I am not entirely convinced of her reincarnation, but the telling was lovely.
    I have the following niggles – 1. Your second sentence or paragraph, should substitute “before today” instead of “until today”. That is just a grammer thing.
    2. I really am upset with you for including a hyperlink in your story. I truly believe they jar the reader out of the tale and back into the ordinary world – or something. It is wrong. Just plain wrong.
    When you write up your dissertations and thesis, please include the hyperlinks, but not in your stories and fables, unless you are collecting and indexing them as an academic excercise.
    Prose Power

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      Dear Laura,

      Upon reflection I think you may be right about the hyper links. I will refrain from further jarring. Thanks for the input. Thanks also for the ‘before’ vs. ‘until’ niggle. I will re-read, reflect and edit.

      And thanks for sharing your thoughts. They are important to me.



  8. Craig Towsley April 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm #


    Love how you mix historical and the occult all together seamlessly. Great as always.

  9. unspywriter April 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Excellent! I love this kind of story. And thanks for the comment on mine. I’ve read Heinlein’s earlier works, but his latter stuff was just icky. I haven’t read the one you mentioned; sound like an interesting take.

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      My pleasure, Maggie,

      Thanks for stopping in and reading.



  10. Cara Michaels April 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    What an interesting tale, Doug. At first I thought of Ophelia… I imagine dreams of drowning might make a person feel unhinged all on their own. Adding the idea of a reincarnated soul reliving the last moments of a previous life gives the story an edge of tragedy and horror.

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Dear Cara,

      Thanks for your comments. Off to visit Morpheus now. Will look for your link tomorrow.



  11. Sarah Paige Berling April 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Wow. Just. . . wow. Wonderful depiction here. I could feel the eerieness.

    • dmmacilroy April 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Dear Sarah,

      Mahalo and Aloha!


  12. janmorrill April 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Haunting, beautiful and creative, Doug. I read it more than once, just to relive the chills from the first reading.


  13. allenjambalaya April 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Hello Doug,

    You always suceed in igniting my imagination everytime I read your post weekly.

    Lately, I’ve been hooked with The Sandman Comics by Neil Gaiman and your take reminds me of the King of Dreams, Morpheus. For him, a dream is not just a dream.

    As for me, a dream is a medium where we can travel. I even keep a dream log.

    Have a great weekend.


  14. Gary April 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    This feels like it could be an episode of The Twilight Zone or something! Very eerie. It’s subtle too. Nicely done.

    Mine is this-a-way:

  15. miq April 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Eerie, this gave me goosebumps (I’m not kidding, on my arms and ears (weird)).

    Mine is here: http://threedescriptors.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/flash-fiction-20-cold-night/

  16. V. L. Gregory-Pohlenz April 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    WOW! Not another thought to add that hasn’t been said–INCREDIBLE. Well done, as usual.

    Mine: http://www.vlgregory-circa1800.vpweb.com/blog.html

  17. Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) April 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    I love your interpretation of the photo prompt. Very beautiful…and eerie. Now…I’m curious if you based this one on true events as well. I have to add, that this story seems much “older”…as if it took place farther back in time (less the words “travel magazine”). It must be the ethereal mood you set. (PS – I was born only a couple months later than your subject…so, I found this poetic piece especially interesting)

    ~Susan (here’s mine: http://www.susanwenzel.com/)

  18. Brandon Scott April 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Wonderful take on this prompt. I loved it. What else can I say that hasn’t already been said?

    My attempt: http://authorbrandonscott.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/gone/

  19. Tom Poet April 7, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    Another great piece of writing. You have a gift my friend. “I stand on the river bank, unhinged in time.” Powerful to the last word.

    Here is my stab at it…http://blog.tompoet.com/?p=264

  20. Charles Oyeleke Williams April 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Sure, Doug this is a surprising topic from you and i love the take by this story (no one should put you into a straight jacket!)…i think the ‘before’ is in order (after a second reading) though i had thought otherwise…but this line is my challenge…three states distant and ‘one day later’: could she have used one day to reincarnate? i doubt! We Africans believe in this and it may take some months for her to come back into this world…except she’s telling us her travelling in time as revealed in her dreams but still a day is too short, i think.
    Great work, here!!!


  21. Madison Woods April 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Reincarnation being a theme I often ponder, I thought this story was excellent in it’s subtle and at the same time overt references to both the river and the death and the rebirth. I liked it a lot, Doug. I think what I liked most about it was the slow, certain progression, the cyclical nature of life reflected in the passage.

  22. Quill Shiv April 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    I adore this story. I truly do. I’m wondering why you chose 4 days. Had I written this story, I would have chosen 7 weeks, but that’s because that’s how long the Bardo is. Was there a significance for the 4 days that I’m missing?

    Wonderful job!


    • tedstrutz April 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      How do you know so damn much, Rinn?

      • Quill Shiv April 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

        umm…I don’t know

    • dmmacilroy April 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

      Dear Rinn,

      It actually was only a few hours. Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday. It was so named because it was the day Jesus washed his apostles feet (another probably too subtle reference to the river). The ‘three states’ simply refers to distance and was put in for pacing, rhythm and a nod to the mysterious nature of reincarnation.

      Chose the time span for its near instantaneousness (is that a word:)(?)

      Thanks for reading and commenting. It will help you in the next life.



      • Quill Shiv April 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

        Excellent! Thanks so much for the explanation! It really enriches the story for me. 😀

  23. tedstrutz April 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    This is the best one!

    • dmmacilroy April 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

      Dear Ted,

      Thanks for this comment. I’ve been chasing a rabbit down a hole this weekend, forgive me please. I will be arriving on your doorstep soonest.



  24. parul April 7, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    Reincarnation… Not sure if I believe in it.. But this was a good story..
    I can come back and read the description of the dream in your post again and again tirelessly. It’s beautiful and poetic!
    You are a whiz with words. Great work again!

  25. susielindau April 8, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    This takes the message of rebirth to a whole new level. Very appropriate to the season and weekend! Happy Easter!

  26. andyfloodwritersblog April 8, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Hi Doug,

    As always, you write incredibly well and this deep and affecting story of reincarnation is among your best. Some vivd imagery, a sense of haunting and words that linger. Very well done. The lords of karma would approve 😉

    Here’s my story this week:


  27. Russell April 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    Nice story. I especially enjoyed the last line. Whenever I think of reincarnation, the movie Groundhog Day keeps coming to mind. Do we continually have “do overs” until we get it right?

    Sorry, I’m so late. Mine’s at http://russellgayer.blogspot.com/

  28. Janet April 9, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Very haunting. I loved the first paragraph.

  29. Caely April 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Dear D,

    whenever I read your stories, they always subtly tell me that someone somewhere has lived those exact moments you describe. That’s where your magic is in writing. At least, I like to think so.

    Mine’s here: http://wp.me/puGD7-GL


  30. Michael Fishman April 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    An excellent story, Doug. The first paragraph alone is so beautifully descriptive that we can almost feel and taste and character and the scene. And the last sentence… I don’t know what to say about that aside from the fact that it gave me little goosebumps. The best of the 100-word stories pack a punch and this one packed a punch.

    Here’s mine:

  31. Robin Hawke April 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    I’ve been unhinged from the blog world. Caught up with your blog today but can never get a fill of your writing. Second reading of above more powerful than first. Love.

  32. rochellewisoff December 31, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Dear Doug,

    This was your entry one week before I joined. Who knew? I’m a little unhinged by it all.

    While I don’t share your views, I’m not adverse to “what if?” No matter what, your writing was then and still is amazing.

    As I look back on my first few FF months, I know exactly what compelled me to say hello and keep the conversation going. You’ve inspired me in so many ways.


    Rochelle SD

    • dmmacilroy November 18, 2016 at 6:54 am #

      Dear Rochelle,

      For all intensive purposes, I’m not adverse to what if either.

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