Future’s So Bright…

2 Nov

Crosses to bear. Some are heavier and more visible than others. Some of the heaviest are  invisible except for the tracks they leave behind. We all carry something.

This 100 word story for Friday Fictioneers was inspired by the photo prompt below from Ted Strutz. It was written from the edge and is a plea for you to shade your eyes and peer into the darkness beyond the circle of light in which you stand. The people out there that need a hand don’t always know how to ask for help. You may even find yourself out there sometime. Do what you can. It matters and it helps. Aloha, D.

Carnival in town.

Ruth stood in impenetrable shadows watching happy people silhouetted against the glare of tent lights. She used to be happy there, too.

Darkness embraced her as she washed down a handful of pills with warm beer.

Take these, the doctors said. Better? Try this instead.

Haphazard prescriptions held no keys for the locked doorway to her troubled mind.

Let them hone their skills on someone else. Tonight she was going to show them what dosage the cure required.

A song from a brighter past wafted across the midway. She smiled ruefully. Downed a few more pills….

(the song she heard)




Post Script: I want to share something that Valerie Davies shared with me in the comments section. I’d never heard of Don Ritchie before I wrote my story but I can’t thank Valerie enough for telling me of him and the way he helped those in need. (Valerie’s story is pretty amazing, too. Check out her ‘about’ page to read about a life well lived.)

72 Responses to “Future’s So Bright…”

  1. janet November 2, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    A deftly crafted reminder to reach out to those around us, even if it seems that they may be just fine. Many carry unseen baggage and that bit of caring can make a difference, sometimes literally between life and death. Your understated voice conveyed her loneliness and depression very well.

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 2:08 am #

      Dear Janet,

      Thanks for seeing beyond the light. I appreciate the comments and compliment. Looking forward to reading yours.



  2. glossarch November 2, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    You really captured the sadness of watching people have fun when you have no hope. I really felt for the character.

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 2:31 am #

      Dear Danny,

      Thanks for saying so. This story came from a dark place and somehow, i’m hoping it sheds some light on the subject. Looking forward to reading yours.



  3. boomiebol November 2, 2012 at 3:11 am #

    A fine job here, you captured the “pain” of the character very well and without making her sound pitiful…also very relatable, Very well done

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 4:34 am #

      Dear Boomie,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. This story took a while forming, but once it appeared out of the mists, it quickly took shape. This scares me a little. Perhaps the days getting shorter has a bit to do with it.



  4. bridgesareforburning November 2, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    Hi Doug,
    Finding prescription drug addiction in this scene was very resourceful and creative. The link to my story is messed up. My story is here: http://bridgesareforburning. wordpess.com Ron

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 4:38 am #

      Hi Ron,

      She’s actually not addicted, just deeply depressed and has decided to take every pill she has all at once to end her pain. Not a good solution from our point of view, but as I wrote, she’s in a dark place.

      Thanks for stopping by. Headed your way now.



  5. myothervoices November 2, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    Like the threat here, has a kind of patience to it with the continual pill-popping

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 4:32 am #

      Thanks you, sir.

      Insidious minds we have, trading the real joy of our days for false comfort and little real peace.



  6. Parul November 2, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    You described the mental abyss of your protagonist very well.
    Very believable and real. Nice work, as always!

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 4:30 am #

      Dear Parul,

      Thanks you for listening. I appreciate you comments every week. Helps keep me in the light.



  7. tedstrutz November 2, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    Well done, Doug. I usually don’t read comments before making my own… but with your story, I felt compelled to do so. I can’t really add much to the thoughtful comments before me. For me, the ‘warm beer’ pretty much summed it up. Parul’s story also touched me deeply.

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 6:01 am #

      Dear Ted,

      Thanks is all I can say. Means a lot to me that this story struck a nerve with you.

      (You flying yet?)



      • tedstrutz November 2, 2012 at 6:03 am #

        Landing in Honolulu @ 9 tomorrow night… I’ll be in touch.

    • Parul November 2, 2012 at 9:26 am #

      Thanks (again) Ted 🙂

  8. Sandra November 2, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    “Take these. Better? Try these instead.” That just about summed up the desolation of an all too familiar situation. Nicely done Doug, and an inventive take on the photo prompt.

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 7:36 am #

      Dearest Sandra,

      Thanks for your kudos. If you knew how difficult this one was for me you’d fly over here and bonk me on the head. Still and all, it was worth the effort. Headed your way soon and looking forward to diving into your world.



  9. valeriedavies November 2, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    Doug a sad story that seemed so true to life, that I ached for the lonely soul.
    I also ache that so few people look beyond the light to the places where people are hurting..
    Do you know the story about that wonderful man who retired to live by some rocks in Sydney where suicides were always jumping. It became his life’s mission to walk out to anyone there, with his hands out, palms up, and start talking to them, before bringing them back to his house for a cup of tea with his wife. He saved over three hundred people by simply looking out of his window, and then walking towards them….

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 7:33 am #

      Dear Valerie,

      I have never heard of that man but I am in tears from what you told me of him. I am going to research him more. Do you know his name/time frame? What a wonderful man.

      Thank you for letting my few words touch you. I was not sure this story would be well received because it is so sad, but your comment alone has made the writing of it mean something.

      Many, many mahalos to you, Valerie. Still amazed at what you wrote to me. Thank you.



      • valeriedavies November 2, 2012 at 7:41 am #

        Dear Doug, thank you for your beautiful reply. he was called the Angel of– and I can’t remember the place name. Leanne at her blog MIndfulness4now re-rold the story a few weeks ago.
        HE died quite recently…
        The idea of this gentle man walking towards someone in such trouble with his hands out, palms up, I find infinitely moving…
        I will try to find out more about him for you….Love Valerie

  10. valeriedavies November 2, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Doug, Google: Angel of the Gap, and you’ll find the story of Don Ritchie

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 8:24 am #

      Dear Valerie,

      *****Thank you******

      I will. Aloha, D.

  11. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields November 2, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Dear Doug,
    Once more you’ve written a jaw dropper. This one hit me where I, fortunately, no longer live. This story brought back some all too painful memories. I mean this in a good way. Isn’t that a writer’s goal–to drum up emotion, to hit the reader between the eyes? Well done, my beach combing friend.

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 9:31 am #

      Dear Rochelle,

      I’m thankful you’re here with us in the light. (Hard to drive this bus from the baggage compartment.) Thanks for the kind comments.



  12. Joanna (Lazuli Portals Trilogy) November 2, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Touching story, Doug, replaying echoes of the dark time after I lost my first husband. Thankfully I was only 25 and had time to ‘bounce back’. But not everyone can, not everyone does, and it can be hard to illustrate the blackness that exists in those moments.
    As always, you did the emotion proud.

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      Dear Joanna,

      My story is dredging up a lot of long hidden memories in readers. It was not something I expected, b ut that only goes to show how out of touch I am and how many people have spent too long in the darkness. I thank you for your kind comments and hope you never again hear those discordant notes.



      • Joanna (Lazuli Portals Trilogy) November 2, 2012 at 11:22 am #

        It shows how powerful your storytelling is – and it’s all healing. I have learned a lot since that time, and my life path has completely changed – darkness will not claim me again 😉 (Thank you)

  13. Charles Oyeleke Williams November 2, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Hey D, am surprised you wrote this even after persuading me against not growing old…well, sometimes our real thoughts and feelings are hidden in the dark as with this MC. I pity her but wouldn’t have taken that exit if i were her. Interesting link there about the ‘Angel in the Gap’ we all need to reach out always!

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

      Dear Charles,

      Something in me needed releasing. This bastard prompt fought me tooth and nail. Age and treachery won the day and I was lucky to have done so.

      I was blown away by the story of the Angel in the Gap that Valerie Davies shared and Jen’s song is a good one. , too, have had my moments.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  14. unspywriter November 2, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    We’ve all been at that dark place at least once, and anyone who denies that, well, are in an out-of-phase reality. This is so much packed into 100 words. Great job.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/a-ghosts-tale/

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      Dear Maggie,

      Thank you, as always, for visiting and commenting. I loved your story this week!



  15. elmowrites November 2, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    It’s so easy to slip out of the light, Doug. I particularly liked the comparison to happier days. Your character conveyed the despair of hopelessness, coupled with a certainty that the doctors can’t help. I hope someone pulls her back from the darkness before it’s too late.
    Inspiring story of Don Ritchie – I hadn’t heard of him either. It reminds me of the Emerson Drive song Moments (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzriEXPJ1-k). So often, true heroes come from the place you’d least expect.

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

      Dear Jen,

      Hearing Emerson Drive’s poignant song was a nice way to end my reading of your comment. I am glad I am done with the writing, for jsut that act took me deep into the darkness.

      Thanks for commenting.



  16. Erin Leary November 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    So sad…I hope she finds help or relief. That’s a bad place to be in. I am back on the bandwagon this week. Here’s mine: http://erinleary.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/flash-friday-fiction-14/

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

      Dear Erin,

      She’s not, but perhaps this story will help others in some small way. Often that’s all it takes to turn a live around. Thanks for commenting.



  17. Russell November 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    You blow me away, my friend. I think Jen said it best, your character conveyed the despair of hopelessness. It’s sad to think how many people we come in contact with everyday that may just need a word of encouragement–and yet we are silent.

    BTW, when Ted arrives he should be easy to spot. Not many guys walking around with a coffee cup glued to their mug. Buy him a refill for me 🙂

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      Dear Russell,

      You always aim for the funny bone and seem to hit it far more often than not. This week there was no funny bone in sight for me. I wrote five stories before this one clicked. Glad to have it over.

      Thanks for commenting so positively and for cluing me in as to Ted Strutz’s likely appearance. Looking forward to meeting him as much as I am to meeting you.



  18. Sheila November 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    That first sentence really sets the tone. Very sad that she can’t find the joy in anything anymore. I love your introduction too. It’s so true that we need to look out for each other and help however we can.

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

      Dear Sheila,

      Thanks for stopping in to read and comment. I appreciate the time you took and your input helps keep me on track and focused.



  19. brudberg November 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Wow, this story is so touching it brings tears to my eyes. I have fortunately not been even close to a situation like this, but I think I dare to look into the darkness. Thank you for this wonderful story.

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

      Dear Bjorn,

      Thanks for telling me that. I swear I had sooooo much trouble with this dark prompt. Keep daring to look into the dark. You’re the kind of person other people need.



  20. vb holmes November 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    You certainly captured her desperation–right down to positioning her in impenetrable shadows. Hopefully, she subconsiously chose a crowded venue so she would be found in time. Touching story.

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

      Dear VB,

      Thanks for your comments. I’m glad you’re rooting for her.



  21. newpillowbook November 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    “Let them hone their skills on someone else. Tonight she was going to show them what dosage the cure required.” What a terrifying paragraph!

    You really convey her frustrated contempt for the doctors who haven’t helped her, and her belief that they don’t really know what they’re doing and don’t particularly care. And I can easily imagine someone who is depressed feeling exactly like that. What a sad, real story – and somehow the fact that she chooses a place intended for fun to finish herself off makes it that much sadder.

    • dmmacilroy November 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

      Thank you for noticing those details. Having her on the outskirts of the carnival, looking in to where she once was happy was very a important part of setting the stage, of making her desperation and depression believable. And the doctors? I’m sure some are great, professional and caring individuals, in fact, I know a few, but there is only so much they can do and the perceptions of an ill individual may have nothing at all to do with their doctor’s competence. A close friend of mine took his life after long months of trying various combinations of anti-depressants prescribed by doctors he felt zero connection with. We could see it coming but only in hindsight.

      Thanks for your kind comments on Future’s so Bright. i appreciate them, and you, very much.



  22. Debra Kristi November 3, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    Tough emotions both beautifully and terrifyingly conveyed. The frustration that would lead her to this point. The feeling that she is nothing more than a number on a chart to all her doctors. It’s so sad.

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 1:40 am #

      Dear Debra,

      Thank you for commenting. This story drained me. Your compliment sustains me.



  23. billgncs November 3, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    wow Doug — hope that’s not a place you are now. I have been in that darkness, and there is light. You matter, everyone matters. — Bill

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 9:20 am #

      Dear Bill,

      Thanks, no, I’m not there. I’ve opened that door and stumbled at the entrance every once in a while but I’ve got a padlock on the door lately.

      Thanks for commenting.



      • billgncs November 3, 2012 at 10:00 am #

        glad to hear it. I always enjoy your work, and your comments.


  24. rich November 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    sadly, this is what reality sometimes brings. it’s a shame she didn’t get the proper help, but for some, few individuals, there is no proper help. well told.

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      Dear Rich,

      You hit the nail on the head when you said for some there is no help. The brain is an amazing organ. I’m surprised it holds together through childhood, no less the turbulent years beyond. Thanks for reading.



  25. The Bumble Files November 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    You’ve really captured a lot of sadness here. It’s all too easy to mask pain with a pill, but unfortunately, a common problem. It becomes a bigger problem when it becomes a cycle or a rut. Nice job with the prompt, however, sad. It rings very true. – Amy

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      Dear Amy,

      You are so right about the endless search for the right ‘mix’ to fix chemical imbalances in the brain. I’ve seen the good and the bad of it many times. Got caught up in the dark side this week. Thanks for the light of your comments.



  26. Learning2Hear November 3, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Hello Doug. Your story drew me into the variety of emotions Ruth displays; bitterness, despair, resolve, hopelessness, and resignation. Such a contrast against the lights and action of a carnival. Very well written too!

    • dmmacilroy November 3, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

      Thanks for your discerning look into the dark. I appreciate you taking the time to visit and comment.



  27. Lora November 4, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    Dear Doug: This has been a non-stop news week of sobbing and weeping for me. I finally got a break today, but after reading your story, I bubbled up again. I’ve known that girl’s depth of dark despair, but managed to pull out of it, difficult as it often was and without pills. (My brother wasn’t as lucky). The line that got to me was…”a song from her brighter past”… For some reason, when I heard a song from my brighter past…it had a different effect on me. It soothed my inner being with warm feelings and lifted me from that moment’s despair. I read Valerie’s comments and made a note to check “Angel of the Gap” about Don Ritchie. I truly believe there are angels walking among us. Mine has walked by my side and protected me all my life. Thank you for your touching comments to my Seaside Heights story (Tribute to the victims and survivors of Sandy).

    • Douglas MacIlroy November 4, 2012 at 7:39 am #

      Dear Lora,

      I was surprised at the depth of feeling my story evoked and at the great number of people who have been somewhere close to Ruth in the darkness but managed to find a way out. Can’t thank you enough for your heartfelt comments given the magnitude of the challenges that have swept over and through your world. May the sun begin to shine again and all the pieces be made whole.



  28. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) November 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Boy, this well conveys the feeling that life, once so full of happiness and promise, has come to naught, and what’s it all about? The contrasts here are very effective, including the title. Well, you’ve done a great job of making me depressed and kept within the word count too!

    • Douglas MacIlroy November 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      Dear Perry,

      For what it’s worth I depressed myself writing it. I’m going to make it up to everyone by writing a real stinker next week. I’ll dedicate it to you and Russell.

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Don’t forget to take your meds.



  29. Anne Orchard November 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Like Perry, I appreciated the contrast of the title to how the character feels. Haven’t been there myself but talked to many who have and those affected by the aftermath, including the mother of a girl who committed suicide that I spent a train ride talking to when I was 18. Always tried to do what little I could. Strong stuff, Doug.

    • dmmacilroy November 4, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

      Dear Anne,

      Thank you for your kind comments. I know I wrote the story, but still, I can only imagine the depths of the darkness. Don’t ever want to go there and, like you, will do what I can to help others escape its grasp.



  30. Shirley McCann November 5, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    Such a sad story. Of course, I’m on anti-depressants too. Maybe we all need a little something…..? Hope not.

    • Douglas MacIlroy November 5, 2012 at 3:41 am #

      Dear Shirley,

      I knew when I wrote this I might trigger thoughts and feelings that cut to close to the bone in some readers. I hope you have good doctors and even better meds. Thanks for reading and commenting. See you next week.



  31. Sonia Lal November 5, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    Wow. So poetic, but so sad.

  32. Madison Woods November 5, 2012 at 1:37 am #

    Wow Doug. That was very well illustrated. I have nothing to add that others haven’t already said, just wanted you to know I was here and felt the darkness too. It’s a choice to come back, and one no one else can make for us though it helps to have a little coaxing sometimes, as the Angel of the Gap must have known.

    • Douglas MacIlroy November 5, 2012 at 3:46 am #

      Dear Madison,

      You have been a light in my life. I’m glad you decided to shine!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  33. wmqcolby November 11, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    People seem to be taking a lot of pills these days … 😀

    • dmmacilroy November 11, 2012 at 3:36 am #

      That’s how doctors make their money. Thanks for visiting.



  34. Linda November 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Life can sometimes get in the way of happiness and for some the only way to recover is to opt out – beautifully written and observed Doug and a poignant reminder that not everything in the garden is rosy for everyone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: