Identifying the Offender


This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for November 14. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from Claire Fuller, a fine writer whose blog you should definitely check out, after reading mine, of course. My piece this week weighs in at exactly 100 words.

Copyright Claire Fuller

Copyright Claire Fuller

Identifying the Offender

 

Brandon sat by his wife’s hospital bed. He knew her objections to the Michelin tires on the SUV. But why was she murmuring about the Michelin man in her drug-induced state?

“We’ll be moving her to a psychiatric facility in the morning.” Brandon nodded dumbly at the doctor. “Is she a trauma survivor?”

Brandon shrugged. “Self-induced trauma, maybe.”

“She’s showing PTSD symptoms. I’m transferring her to a facility that specializes in trauma. Any idea who ‘the Michelin man’ or someone named ‘Mr. Bannister’ is?”

Brandon’s eyes widened. The puzzle pieces were falling into place, but he didn’t like the implications.

Author’s note: I struggled for a while to come up with a story this week, and I finally went with a story that I know well. Sadly, Brandon’s wife is much luckier than many trauma survivors. Several PTSD sufferers, including myself, are repeatedly blamed for their behavior and only treated with psychotropic meds that often make things worse rather than being given the therapy they need to remember, overcome and then let go of the horrors from the past. For me, it took 20 years of “pseudo seizures” and at least 4 suicide attempts before a single intake nurse changed my life for the better by uttering those words, “Are you a trauma survivor?”

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42 thoughts on “Identifying the Offender

  1. Dear Marie Gail,

    Oh those triggers. I wondered at first why the Michelin tires would be a problem. I remember when my memories started surfacing and it became clearer and clearer why I kept repeating certain behaviors.

    I applaud your courage in sharing this story. The more we talk about it the less power it has over us.

    Blessings, Love and Shalom, my dear friend.

    Rochelle

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Rochelle. I am now a puddle of tears and having a dizzy spell after the effort of putting this into words, but it is a healing process. The Michelin Man trigger is not actually mine, but it isn’t difficult to imagine how it might become one.

      (By the way, I’m not so emotionally attached to this that I can’t take constructive feedback on it.)

      Love and hugs,
      Marie Gail

      • I didn’t even think about constructive crit…I was caught up in the story and my own response to it. But…if this is from Brandon’s POV I’m not sure you need “Brandon’s eyes widened.” Seems like an out of body POV. But that’s minor.

        There. Happy now?

        Shalom,

        Rochelle

        • storydivamg says:

          Yes, definitely. LOL

          Honestly, I just wanted to make that clear to anyone reading this story. Writing this close to home is super hard, and changing to a spouse’s POV is one way that I managed to get the distance necessary. But in all honesty, I didn’t manage to run this one past any of my “editors” before posting, so I knew it had to have some faults. 🙂

          MG

  2. Marie Gail, this is obviously a very courageous thing for you to write, and even braver to tell us a little of your history. And thank you for recommending my writing.
    Claire

  3. ((((((((((((((Marie)))))))))))), thanks for sharing your firsthand POV in this story. I shudder to think who the Michelin Man might be and what he might have done but the exact information is really immaterial to what you show so well.

    I have to disagree about “Brandon’s eyes widened.” Since the nurse was just speaking, it clarifies to use the name. At the very least, you’d need “His.”

    janet

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much, Janet. In real life, it was something other than the Michelin Man, but the photo prompt provided a means to distance myself from the story enough to tell it.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  4. J says:

    I am so sorry, Marie — bravely written — I don’t know what more to say than to send you a virtual [hug].

    All the best — with best wishes for your continued healing.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, J. I hope that by sharing I can raise some awareness of PTSD. It is so often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. I firmly believe that the things that happen in life happen FOR us. In this case, perhaps my experiences can help others.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  5. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Marie,

    Guts to survive it, guts to choose life in spite of it, guts to write it. One of your best ever and you know why. Well done.

    Aloha,

    Doug

  6. Sandra says:

    Well done. And not just the story either. (I always found the michelin man spooky when I was a child.)

    • storydivamg says:

      I hope it was for entirely different reasons than my character’s reasons, Sandra. Whatever the reasons, I think you are in good company in finding him (and many other mascots) creepy.

      Marie Gail

  7. Enigmatic story.
    I have no experience of PTSD myself, but your backstory clearly illustrates what it must be like. You are surviving!

  8. Marie, I’m so sorry you suffered trauma, but glad it was recognized by someone and you got help. I firmly believe that writing about experiences also helps. Good and well-written story. It would also be a great hook for a longer story or novel. — Susan

    • storydivamg says:

      Dearest Susan,
      If only I had contracts from publishers for each time a reader from the great group of Friday Fictioneers has asked to read more of a story. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment and your support.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  9. rgayer55 says:

    Wow, this one caught be by surprise and made my knees buckle. I know several people with PTSD, most are Vietnam vets. I’m glad it’s being talked about more now than in the past.
    One thing – did you mean Brandon nodded numbly at the doctor instead of dumbly?

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Russell.

      As to the nod, I did mean “dumbly”–meaning both “mutely” and “rather like an idiot.” Not sure about my readers, but there are many times when I’ve “nodded dumbly” for one reason for another.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  10. Interesting take. I mean the story is beautiful, the post script is what i find so interesting.

  11. Thank you for sharing this. Who knows how many people suffer from PTSD – glad you brought it forward. Alicia

  12. after reading through your backstory I got even more out of your story.. I like the last lines though.. and I’m concerned what actions will be taken.. going after the Michelin man might not be wise .. your own story made it so much stronger.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful read and comments, Bjorn. I can tell you that, depending on the age of Brandon’s wife, it is likely that little even can happen to “the Michelin Man.” These types of PTSD symptoms from childhood trauma tend to emerge when the victim is over 30–an indicator that more mental health professionals need to attend to when diagnosing patients as this is much later in life than initial symptoms of similar disorders tend to emerge. Sadly, in most cases in the U.S., this means that the original crime is past the statute of limitations for prosecution because the woman would have needed to press charges within 10 years of her 18th birthday. In some cases, the offender is already dead by the time the PTSD symptoms emerge.

      Again, thanks. It means a lot that you have taken an interest.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  13. Marie Gail,
    great story. Thanks for the author’s note in helping to understand it a little better from your perspective. It is a long and complicated road of recovery I’m sure with no easy shortcut.
    Take care,
    David

  14. So sorry to hear you went through such difficulty (that’s a mild word for it) but glad you’re doing so much better now. We often have no idea of the challenges others that we see every day are facing. Very brave of you to write a story that hits so close to home. Take care, Gail.

  15. Marie Gail, very powerful story and thanks for sharing your own experiences. None of us should presume that we know where others are coming from, when there are so many paths in life. Powerful story!

  16. Honie Briggs says:

    My son-in-law’s name is Brandon. So, immediately there was a connection. I’ve nodded dumbly on many occasions. So, that too was relatable. I don’t give crit, only compliments. So, you should know, I was moved by your story, all of it, more than I can say.

  17. Margaret says:

    Very moving. Your characters and their circumstances tug at the heart. Sensitively told. The authenticity of the emotions comes through clearly.

  18. Ellespeth says:

    I don’t know what to say. The story ripped through me.
    Writing is a great healer…
    Ellespeth

  19. Sarah Ann says:

    Thank you for the background and tapping in to your past to bring us this story. Well done for that tantalising ending too and leaving the reader wanting to know more.

    • storydivamg says:

      Sarah Ann, I’m so glad it left you wanting more. Jerry Seinfield once mentioned that a performer should always leave the stage while the audience is still applauding. That isn’t always the easiest stunt to pull off.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  20. I believe the best stories come from deep within. Every time we find courage to expose those hidden corners, we chase away the darkness and heal a little. Well done, Well done in so many ways.

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