Short Story. The Individualist. (Enneagram 4)

Steve stepped back from the canvas, eyebrows furrowed as he examined his most recent markings.
Bright strokes of chalk were layered over delicate lines of paint. An odd combination for an odd man, but the contrast in textures had always struck him in ways that other mediums hadn’t.
He glanced up at the clock before switching pieces of chalk. He still had thirty minutes until Hannah left work. Another twenty after that until she should arrive home.
He wanted to be done with his current piece before she got back. He was painting it for her as a surprise. It was part of a collection he’d begun when he proposed to her. And he’d given her one every year since, a painting for every year of marriage, each depicting a significant moment in their relationship.
She claimed they were the best presents she ever received outside of their children. He hoped that was true.
He always spent more time on these paintings than any of his other works. They are more than presents to him. His love for Hannah wasn’t something he could express with words. But with art… with the time and care he put into his work… they were truly a part of him. The most beautiful part of him. And Hannah deserved the most beautiful parts of him.
He found himself humming as he put the finishing touches on his painting, enjoying the quiet of his home while Hannah and Chris were away.
He always felt guilty for enjoying their absence, but he couldn’t help that he felt at peace in the silence. Chris would be home soon, anyway, back from a quick weekend trip with a couple of his friends. There was no need to feel guilty about having fun by himself while his full-grown adult son was away from the house.
His humming grew louder, reverberating throughout the garage as he became further engrossed in his gift. A tear fell from his eye as he finished it, prompting a surprised chuckle. He often shed a tear or two over his work, yet it caught him by surprise every time.
He was so focused that he didn’t hear his phone at first, letting it vibrate atop his workbench. Then it rang again, dragging him out of his creative bubble. He almost didn’t answer it when he saw it was an unknown number, but if they called twice…
“Hello?” He said into his phone, putting it on speakerphone so he could focus on his painting.
“Mr. Garrafino?”
Steve hesitated, his breath caught with fear. “This is he,” he said.
“Mr. Garrafino, your wife was in a car accident and she is currently on her way to St. Joseph’s Hospital.”
Steve’s heart raced, his ears ringing with alarm, filled with pressure as he fought against the weight of his anxiety.
“Mr. Garrafino?” Said the lady on the other end of the phone. “Can you meet us at St. Joseph’s Hospital?”
“Yes,” was all he could manage to say, having to blink back the spots in his vision.
In a daze, he ran inside and grabbed a set of keys from the kitchen table. With tunnel vision, he ran out his front door, not bothering to lock it as he ran to his car.
Three times he tried the handle of his car before realizing he grabbed Hannah’s keys instead of his. Keeping her keys just in case, he ran back inside and grabbed his own.
He might have run some stop signs. If he did, he didn’t notice. Though he definitely ran some red lights, ignoring the blaring car horns.
Once inside the hospital, he slowing to a complete stop, immobilized by fear. He didn’t know how badly she was hurt, but it had to have been serious. She was taken by an ambulance. And if she was okay, they would have said she was okay. The fact that the lady didn’t say Hannah was okay, was confirmation enough that she wasn’t.
“Sir, can I help you?” Asked the desk attendant.
Steve nodded, stumbling over his name. Her name. But he eventually received directions to her room.
He was already in tears as he entered her room, his imagination painting fearful images of the pain she might be in.
Then he saw her, smiling at him with a spoon full of pudding in her hands. “Hello, dear,” she said cheerfully.
Steve collapsed in on himself, falling to his knees with relief. “Thank God,” was all he could think to say as he grabbed her hands, kissing them repeatedly.
“I’m okay,” Hannah said, “but the car is pretty beat up, and I’m not sure it’s still under warranty.”
Steve wiped his tears on his sleeve, not willing to let go of her hands. “What happened?”
“I honestly don’t know,” she said, shrugging, and then immediately wincing in pain. “I apparently ran into a car. My head was throbbing, but they gave me some pain medicine for it. My neck still hurts if I move it though.”
“You don’t remember the crash?” He asked, moving closer to examine her head. He couldn’t see it before, but underneath her dark hair was a swollen wound that had already been cleaned.
“I remember flashes,” she said, closing her eyes. “But nothing coherent. The doctor had some guesses as to what happened, but she’s waiting for the tests results to come back before saying anything for sure.”
Steve smiled down at her, amazed at her resiliency. He wasn’t sure how she could smile after such a traumatic event. He supposed the drugs helped.
“I’m so sorry, honey,” he whispered, bending down to give her a gentle kiss. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
She smiled back before shoveling down a spoonful of chocolate pudding. “Of course I’m okay,” she said with her mouth full. “I’m the strongest woman you know.”
Steve couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “The strongest,” he agreed, nodding emphatically. It wasn’t until that moment that he finally thought about their children. “Chris and Beth!” He said suddenly, straightening up. “We need to let them know.”
Hannah grabbed his arm, instilling a sense of peace. “The hospital already called them. They left a message for Beth, and Chris is on his way here.”
Steve let out a sigh of relief as the door suddenly opened, revealing a young doctor. “Good evening,” she said, adjusting her glasses as she nodded in Steve’s direction. “Mr. Garrafino, I presume?”
Steve nodded. “Thank you for taking care of my wife.”
“No thanks necessary,” she said, smiling at Hannah. “Now, the test results from our brain scans have come back, and they confirm what I suspected.”
Hannah placed the empty pudding cup on the table next to her bed, looking much more serious than before.
Steve watched her face, suddenly anxious. “What kind of results were they?”
The doctor let out a small sigh as she looked down at her notes. “You suffered a severe seizure,” she said, making eye-contact with Hannah.
“From hitting her head?” Steve asked, feeling completely out of his depth. He knew nothing about seizures.
“Unfortunately not,” the doctor replied. “The seizure is what caused the crash in the first place. Based off of our scan, it looks like you have severe Epilepsy.”
Hannah looked just as lost as Steve felt. “What does that mean?” She asked, her voice shaking.
The doctor moved to Hannah’s side opposite of Steve and placed a hand on her shoulder. “It means you’re at risk for more seizures. Potentially ones just as severe as the one today, but your condition is treatable.”
Steve held his breath, attempting to process the doctor’s news. “What does that mean? Treatable?”
“Like with medicine?” Hannah asked. “Will that make the seizures go away?”
The doctor smiled understandingly, lifting her hand from Hannah’s shoulder. “In eighty percent of patients, yes. The medicine should keep the seizures at bay.”
With that, Steve finally allowed himself to breathe, relief plain on both his and Hannah’s face.
“But there is still a chance the medicine won’t take,” the doctor cautioned, “and seizures can still be triggered by high-stress situations.”
Steve and Hannah looked at each other, each processing what the news meant.
“So what does that mean, exactly?” Hannah asked. “That I have to stay calm at all times?”
The doctor smiled again. “Not exactly. It means that until we see sustained evidence that the medicine is working, you’re not allowed to drive or operate a vehicle. Nor should you attend work.”
Hannah grimaced.
“Thank you, doctor,” Steve said, attuned to his wife’s frustration. “We appreciate your help.”
“You’re very welcome. I’ll be back with your prescription and to answer any other questions you have,” she said before leaving them alone in the room.
“I don’t want to leave work,” Hannah said as soon as the doctor left. “I’ll go crazy with nothing to do. And we don’t have enough saved for us both to be out of work.”
“We’ll be fine,” Steve said, stroking her hair in the soothing way she liked. “I’ll find something.”
“You shouldn’t have to,” she said, on the verge of tears for the first time.
“Hey,” he said, kneeling down to her level. “Look at me.” She looked over, her lips still turned down in frustration.
“I’m going to take care of you,” he said. “You’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.”
With her eyes still locked on his, she let out a small smile. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Steve said, smiling back. “Because I’m the strongest guy you know.”
Hannah’s smile widened. “The strongest.”


Short Story. The Achiever (Enneagram 3)

Pam ripped the hospital band off her wrist, tossing it to ground as she walked through the lobby of her apartment.
“I’ll take care of that, Miss Ricks,” the young bellhop said, rushing to pick up her trash.
“Thank you, Eli,” Pam said, not bothering to look back as she waited for the elevator.
That might have bothered her once. That she could care so little about other people. She used to pride herself on her compassion, having managed to work her way up to the highest floor of her firm without making a single enemy. Not so much anymore.
It took her a moment to recognize the song playing inside the elevator. A jazz song, the name of which she didn’t know.
Theo used to dance whenever he heard it, shaking his hips back and forth until she couldn’t help but smile. She grimaced at the memory, pulling her phone out in order to distract herself until the elevator re-opened.
Her apartment was dimly lit. Too large and too clean for her. It didn’t look like anyone lived there, which she supposed was true.
She stopped in the foyer, her face frowning back at her in the mirror. Her lip was split, swollen to a comical size.
As gently as she could muster, she peeled back the bandage on her forehead, revealing her stitches. The wounds looked oddly appropriate to her. Finishing touches on a withering face.
Theo would have been mad at her for thinking such a thing. He always insisted she was beautiful. That he wouldn’t change a thing about her. And maybe that was true when they were younger, but she was old now. Cracked and worn. And Theo wasn’t around to insist otherwise.
Pam clenched the bandage in her fist, her lips beginning to tremble. “Calm,” she whispered. “Stay composed.”
Suddenly, the mirror shattered, shards of it falling around her fist.
Startled, she yanked her fist backward, bandage still in hand. She didn’t remember deciding to punch the mirror, but it was all she could to do to keep from hitting herself instead.
“Keep. It. Together!” She screamed, a part of her all too aware that she was losing it. “Don’t yell,” she said, her voice falling to a whisper, fighting the urge to laugh at the absurdity of her outburst. “Stay composed.”
Something dripped down her forehead as she eyed her kitchen counter. Her pills sat atop the marble finish, organized by the days of the week. “I don’t need you,” she said, her eyes flaring. “I don’t need you!” She yelled again as she contemplated taking them all at once.
Knock, knock, knock. Someone rapped against her door. “Pam?” A voice followed, loud enough to snap her attention away from the pills.
“What?” She yelled back, not moving toward the door.
“Are you okay?” Her neighbor asked, his voice concerned. “I heard screams. And did something shatter?”
“I’m fine! Leave me alone!” Pam said, her voice cracking under the strain of the lie. She used to be able to lie so well.
“I’m coming in to check on you. Okay?”
Pam stiffened, glancing at the broken glass scattered on the floor. “I’m fine, Louis.” She said again more convincingly.
“You’ll understand if I need to check after last time,” Louis said as he worked the lock with her spare key.
“I don’t need to be checked on!” She yelled, scrambling to pick up the glass with her bare hands. “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
Pam pushed herself to her feet, ignoring the blood dripping from her hands as Louis opened the door.
Louis stood frozen at the door, his wife and a staff member stuck looking over his shoulder as they took in the bloody scene.
“Pam,” Louis said, his voice gentle as if afraid to startle her. “I think we need to bring you back to the hospital.”


Beth looked over at her brother, wondering for the hundredth time why he refused to leave her side.
“There’s probably a smoking area outside somewhere if you need a break,” she offered, watching his itchy eyes struggle to stay open.
Chris snorted, pinching his cheek as he sat up straighter in his chair. “You okay with me smoking now? What happened to your disapproving stare?”
Beth looked away uncomfortably, pretending to study the room. They were in a large hospital room, a single curtain dividing them from an empty bed. “We all have our struggles,” she said eventually, still not daring to meet his eyes.
Chris ignored her comment, yawning as he stood from his chair. Then, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, he began to stretch next to her bed, spreading his legs to a near split while reaching to his toes.
“What are you doing?” Beth asked incredulously.
Chris looked up from the floor mid-stretch. “Yoga,” he said succinctly. “It’s good for you.”
Beth shook her head. “You do yoga now?”
Chris shrugged. “It helps with anxiety. I usually smoke during. There’s nothing quite like smoking during yoga, but house rules and all.”
Beth smiled ruefully. “You’re just trying to impress our nurse.”
Chris winked at her before breaking out into a fit of laughter. Chris was still bent in half when their nurse walked into the room.
“What are you doing?” Deb asked, staring down at Chris.
Chris rolled his back up straight, smiling as he brushed off his hands. “Sorry. Just doing some yoga.”
Deb frowned at him disapprovingly, though Beth caught a hint of a smile at the corner of her lips. “Hospitals are not made for yoga.”
“I’ll say,” Chris replied with a mischievous grin. “You don’t even allow smoking.”
Deb paused for a moment, obviously unsure as to how to respond before deciding to ignore Chris altogether. “Anyway, I apologize, Beth, but you’re going to have to share the room. We’re filled to capacity at the moment.”
Just then, a woman rolled into the room in a wheelchair, a baffled attendant behind her. “Ma’m, at least let me get the…“
“I told you I can do this myself!” The woman barked as she kicked the door the rest of the way open and rolled herself to the spare bed. “Forcing me to be in the wheelchair,” she muttered, waving a hand at Deb. “I’m fine!”
“I’m sure you are,” Deb said, plastering a smile on her face. “But we should still help you…”
“Nope,” Pam said, cutting her off as she lifted herself into bed. “Just check me out and tell me I can go. I’m only here because of my stupid over-protective neighbor.”
“Your appropriately-protective neighbor told us what happened,” Deb said, drawing the curtain between Pam and Beth. “We’re going to have to run some tests this time.”
Pam’s jaw worked furiously as she fought to restrain herself.
“Don’t worry,” Deb said with a half-hearted smile. “My shift will be over soon so you won’t have to deal with me much longer.”
Pam grunted in response, hiding her trembling arms underneath the hospital blanket. She knew she was breaking down, and was furious about it, but she refused to break in front of others. She would be seen as strong. Remembered as strong.
Deb never noticed Pam’s arms as she moved to the other side of the curtain. “Beth,” she said, pointedly ignoring Chris smiling at her from his chair. “We should be getting your results in soon. Hopefully before I leave.”
“It was just an anxiety attack,” Beth said, eyeing her brother. “I promise I’m fine.”
“Yeah!” Pam yelled through the curtain, pulling it back for enough to reveal her face. “Listen to the girl. We’re both fine!”
Deb couldn’t help but roll her eyes, eliciting a chuckle from Chris. “We’ll know more once the bloodwork comes back,” she said, ignoring Pam. “For now, let me know if I can do anything to help.”
“Thank you,” Beth said, glancing between Pam and Deb. “Actually, can you tell me how much this is costing? Would it be possible to leave right now? Is that cheaper?”
Deb stifled a laugh, realizing from the concerned look on Beth’s face that she was serious. “You can’t leave until we’re done,” she said. “As for the cost, you’ll have to talk to the front desk about that on your way out.”
At the girl’s crestfallen look, Deb had to fight the urge to offer to pay her bills for her, reminding herself that is wasn’t her place. She couldn’t pay for every concerned girl in the hospital. She could hardly afford to take care of her own.
“Don’t you worry about that though,” Deb added, eager to comfort Beth. “The cost isn’t what is important. Your health is.”
Beth looked to Chris as Deb left to check on her other patients. “I don’t have insurance,” she said, her voice worried.
Chris shrugged. “I figured that. I told them you were still on mom’s. You’re twenty-five, right?”
“Twenty-six,” Beth answered, letting her head fall against the pillow in frustration.
“Whelp, we’ll figure it out,” Chris said with a reassuring smile.
“I don’t want to be a burden,” Beth whispered, feeling guilty even voicing the thought. “I’ll figure it out.”
“We,” Chris corrected. “We’ll figure it out. Me, you, and dad… who is on his way, FYI.”
Beth frowned. “You didn’t wake him up, did you? He needs his sleep.”
“I don’t know,” Chris said, throwing his hands in the air, “but he replied to my text saying he’s on his way. He would have wanted to be woken up for this, you know.”
“It wasn’t worth waking him up,” Beth argued. “I’m fine.”
“You don’t know that,” Chris said, his voice hardening. “Mom thought she was fine. She insisted nothing was wrong.”
“Epilepsy isn’t hereditary,” Beth said meekly.
“You sure about that?” Chris asked, sitting forward in his chair. “How much research have you done? Because I’ve read all about it and there are hereditary links, Beth. You could have it, and seizures are one of the primary signs.”
“Symptoms,” Pam chimed in, her face peeking out from the behind the curtain. “Primary symptoms.”
Beth cocked her head, baffled by the audacity of the older woman. “Um, sorry, we were having a kind of private conversation.”
“There’s nothing private about a flimsy sheet, child,” Pam replied, unfazed. “And he’s right, your dad would have wanted to be here.”
“Maybe if there was something wrong,” Beth said, “but I promise there’s not. I don’t have seizures, I have panic attacks.”
Pam arched an eyebrow, a smile forming on her lips. “What’s your story, girl?”
“I have panic attacks, is all,” Beth said, not sure what to make of her neighbor.
“Not what’s wrong with you,” Pam said, rolling her eyes. “Your story. What do you do for a living?”
Beth glanced at Chris for help, but he just watched, obviously bemused. “I live in California,” she said eventually. “I’m a… waitress.”
“And what are you trying to be?” Pam asked pointedly.
Beth’s cheeks flooded with color. “A musician,” she said, feeling foolish about sharing her dream with a stranger, but Pam merely nodded in understanding.
“What’s your story?” Chris asked, smiling confidently at Pam.
“I’m a partner at a law firm,” she said proudly, but found herself shaking once more as she remembered what happened. She had control when she focused on the kids, but on herself… she wasn’t sure she could do it.
She forced her hands underneath her legs, willing them to stabilize as she corrected herself. “Well I was, anyway. I’m on leave.”
“Why?” Beth asked, obviously concerned.
Pam took a deep breath, considering how much to share. “I decided to take a break,” she lied. “I lost my husband.”
Both the youngsters frowned at her with pity, unaware of how much worse that made her feel, but there really wasn’t any other way to respond. She didn’t want to talk about Theo. All she wanted to do was work. She needed to keep moving.
“We lost our mom,” Beth shared, shaking Pam from her reverie.
“I heard,” Pam said, trying to keep the pity from reaching her eyes. “From epilepsy?”
Both Beth and Chris nodded, clearly just as plagued my memories as Pam.
“That’s a hard thing,” she said, unsure of what else to say. When neither of them responded, she continued. “I didn’t spend enough time with my husband.”
She wasn’t sure why she shared it, but both Beth and Chris straightened, attentive, sensing she had more to say. The shaking in her arms lessened just the tiniest bit as she continued. “I worked so hard. Put so many hours in at work that I was never around. He never blamed me for it, or made me feel guilty, which I loved him for. But I wish he had. I wish he had forced me to spend time with him.”
A tear fell down Beth’s cheek as she fought to keep composed. She couldn’t bare to look at Chris, her skin alight with shame. Still, she had to say it. “I left my family behind,” she said, her voice cracking. “They wanted me to stay, but I put my dreams before them. And when my mom got sick…”
Chris moved to her bed, sitting beside her as she stroked her arm. “It’s okay,” he whispered.
“I didn’t think,” Beth managed to say before breaking out into tears, her body racked with sobs, unable to say a word.
“It’s okay,” Chris whispered soothingly. “She loved you, Beth, and she wanted you to pursue your dreams. She wanted you to be happy.”
“I hurt her,” she choked through the sobs.
“We’re family,” Chris said, smiling down at her.
“You’re human,” Pam said enthusiastically. “You’re going to hurt each other.”
Chris laughed. “Exactly, but we love you anyway. Mom loves you anyway.”
Just then, the door flew open as their dad rushed to her bed, Deb right behind him. “Beth. My Beth. Are you okay?”
Beth nodded, tears still on her cheeks. “I’m okay, daddy.”
Deb smiled as she watched Beth cry in the arms of her father. It was for moments like those that she became a nurse. She was at the end of her shift, sleepless and with nothing else to give, but she couldn’t be happier.
“Nurse!” Pam yelled through the curtain.
Deb sighed, leaving the scene behind. “It’s Deborah,” she said, her voice politely strained. “How may I help?”
Pam arched an eyebrow, but her shoulders were clearly more relaxed, less defensive. “I want to help with their bill,” she whispered, pointing through the curtain.
Deb took a step backward, her mouth hanging open. “Oh… really? That’s great!”
“Also,” Pam added, “I may have left some things off my paperwork.”
Deb squinted at her in confusion. “Why?”
“Also,” Pam said, ignoring the question as she raised her arms. “My hands won’t stop shaking.”
Deb shook her head in bewilderment, but didn’t have a chance to respond before Pam continued. “You think the doctor can help with that?”
“Of course,” Deb said, quickly scribbling notes down on her paper.
“Good,” Pam said, “now go tell somebody and go home. Surely your shift is up by now.”
“I’ll be done soon enough,” Deb said, all too aware that her shift had finished half an hour earlier.
“No, girl, you need to rest. Take care of yourself for once,” Pam said, smiling to soften the blow. “Go.”
Deb couldn’t help but chuckle. “Okay, I’ll go soon,” she said, somehow feeling lighter than she had in quite some time.

Short Story. The Helper. (Enneagram 2)

“Okay,” Debra muttered. “Okay, okay, you got this. Just smile.”
Her face looked back at her, unsmiling in her locker mirror. “Smile, dang it.”
And with a deep exhale, she listened, smiling into the mirror.
She wore her best scrubs, blue to bring out her eyes. “Yeah, that’s about as good as it’s going to get,” she said, resigning herself to the formlessness that was her outfit.
Then with one last sigh, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and walked out of the locker room.
“Deb, you’re looking way too good for the night shift,” Katie said, handing Debra a stack of clipboards.
Debra flashed her most winning smile, ever-so-slightly tilting her head. “Oh, it’s only the beginning of the shift. It’ll be a different story in twelve hours, believe me.”
“Please,” Katie said, rolling her eyes. “Five nights a week, and I’ve never seen your hair out of place.”
Debra’s heart fluttered with satisfaction, immediately followed by guilt. Say something nice! She thought, her smile becoming strained. Make her feel good, dang it!
“I love your… hair,” she said, hoping the compliment sounded more genuine than it felt. “I love the curls,” she continued more convincingly.
“Oh, thanks, girl,” Katie said, stroking her hair with genuine pleasure. “It’s a pain, but what are you gonna do?”
“Right?” Debra said, re-applying her smile to match Katie’s. “So we have any winners tonight?”
“Some tough ones actually,” Katie said, her smile fading. “But I gave you the easiest.”
Because she thinks I’m lazy? No, she just implied I wasn’t. Right?
“Actually, I’ll take the harder ones if you don’t mind.” She said. “I have a lot of energy tonight.” And… lie number one of the night.
“Oh,” Katie said, her eye widening appreciatively as she switched out Debra’s clipboards. “Alright then. Good luck.”
“Thanks, Kate,” she said, spinning lightly on her heel for good measure.
Her first patient was at the end of the hall. Debra stopped just outside the door, pretending to check the chart as she composed herself.
“I’m fine!” Someone yelled through the door.
Debra nearly dropped her clipboards, startled. “Excuse me?” She said meekly, poking her head through the door.
“I said I’m fine,” the patient yelled again, though slightly softer. “Just get me out of here.”
Debra removed her head, taking a moment to suppress her anger.
“Hey!” The lady yelled again, her voice carrying down the hall. “Get back here and get me out!”
Debra reappeared with a smile on her face, holding the clipboard in front of her as a safety net. “I’m right here, Miss…,” she said checking her records.
“Pam,” the patient said impatiently. “And I’m doing quite alright if you wouldn’t mind releasing me…”
“It says here your name is Miss Ricks,” Debra said, careful to keep her voice pleasant.
“And Miss Ricks says her name is Pam,” Pam replied, her voice dripping with condescension. “I would know, wouldn’t I? Straight from the horse’s mouth, so-to-speak.”
“I suppose so,” Debra said. “I’ve never spoken to one before.”
Pam cocked her head, squinting up at Debra. “Did you just imply I was a horse?”
Whoops. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to…” Lie number two.
“Yes you did,” Pam said, chuckling. “But I’ll take sass over shy any day. More likely to get things done. So what do you say, am I released?”
At least she likes me. “No, not yet, Miss… Pam.”
“No? Then I’ll take a different nurse,” Pam said, arching an eyebrow.
Debra’s heart began to race. “Why don’t you tell me what happened?” She asked, deciding to ignore the comment.
“It’s on the chart,” Pam said, gesturing to my clipboard.
“It’s helpful to hear it from the horse,” Debra said with a smile, holding her breath.
Pam didn’t smile. Too far, she thought. Definitely too far.
“So… can you tell me what happened?” Debra continued, nervous sweat dripping down her back.
“I fell,” Pam said, staring back at Debra defiantly.
“How?” Debra asked. Smile, she reminded herself. She’ll warm up.
“The hell you mean, how?” Pam asked. “I tripped. Does that amuse you?”
Debra immediately wiped the smile from her face. “No, of course not. I was just trying to be friendly.”
“You have many friends?” Pam asked, smiling maliciously.
Debra bit her tongue before reapplying her smile. “Must have been a pretty big fall. That’s a lot of bruises.”
Pam didn’t reply.
“It’s rare to see bruises on a face from a fall,” Debra said, inspecting the wounds. “Especially ones so deep. Were your hands full at the time?”
Pam looked down at her hands as she quietly fidgeted with her wedding ring. “No, just didn’t react fast enough is all.”
“To catch yourself?” Debra clarified.
Pam looked up, her breathing slightly ragged. “Yes, obviously.”
Debra held Pam’s gaze, locked in a battle of wills.
“Can I go now?” She asked, raising her chin in defiance.
Debra hesitated. “No.”
“No?” Pam said incredulously. “Why the hell not?
“Because… tests,” Debra said, backing away. “We have to run some tests.”
“They’re just bruises!” Pam yelled as Debra opened the door. “I don’t need any tests! I want a new nurse. Immediately.”
“I’ll get right on that,” Debra said as she closed the door. Lie number three.
As soon as she stepped into the hallway, Katie rushed over. “What was that?”
Debra took a moment to compose herself before responding. “She didn’t get those bruises from falling.”
Katie squinted at her incredulously. “Okay… and she’s yelling across the entire hospital because… you told her that?”
Debra let out a frustrated sigh. “Pretty much.”
“Look, I’m re-assigning her,” Katie said, snatching Pam’s clipboard.
“I think her husband is abusing her,” Debra whispered, the words falling out of her mouth. “I can’t let her go home like this.”
“Her husband is dead,” Katie said, slapping the clipboard. “Read the chart, girl.”
“Well then someone else is abusing her.” Debra stuttered. “Who does she live with?”
“No one,” Katie said, shaking her head. “She lives alone, Deb. She fell. That’s all there is to it.”
Debra cast her eyes around the hallway, trying to giver herself time to think. She trusted her gut, and her gut said Pam’s wounds were anything but innocent, but there was no way to prove it.
“Keep me on her,” Debra pleaded, “I need to make sure she’s okay.”
“What you need to do is help all of these other people on your list,” Katie said. “Miss Ricks will be fine without you.”
“Pam,” Debra said, accepting defeat. “She goes by Pam.” And with that left to check on the rest of her patients.
They were nothing remarkable. Just deteriorating bodies making messes for her to clean. She hated cleaning bedpans and vomit, but it was in those moments that she felt most worth-while.
They were usually so thankful, as if she was some sort of angel for doing her job. It’s why she became a nurse in the first place. To help people. She had made it her identity. So much so that helping people was all she had time for.
“She’s getting discharged,” Katie told her eventually, clearly watching her for a reaction.
Debra smiled disinterestedly. “Okay,” was all she said as she moved to her next patient.
“Dr. Quin checked, there weren’t any signs of foul play.”
“Okay,” Debra said again, “thank you.”
Katie eyed her suspiciously. “You’re not convinced are you?”
“I trust you, Katie,” Debra said, laying a hand on her shoulder. Lie number four.
Katie’s face softened. “Good. I know you’re aware… but it’s easy to project our own pasts onto our patients.”
“I know,” Debra snapped, pulling her hand away. “I wasn’t projecting.”
Katie nodded. “Okay, well thank you for trusting me.”
Debra forced a smile, not trusting herself to speak as she brushed past Katie toward her next patient. But with every step, her heart beat faster, pulling her toward Pam.
“Deb?” Katie called as Debra picked up her pace, passing her patient’s door.
Debra ignored her as she rushed to Pam’s room and threw the door open. “Tell me what really happened,” she demanded.
Debra nearly toppled Pam, who was standing just inside the door. She might have fallen all over again if she hadn’t managed to catch herself on the bed frame.
“What the?” Pam said incredulously. “You nearly injured me!”
“I don’t believe you,” Debra said, her heart racing. “You didn’t get those wounds from a fall.”
“Deb,” Katie said, arriving behind me. “Leave the poor woman alone.”
“I fell, Miss Sass. And now I’m going home.” Pam said, pushing her way past Debra.
“You didn’t fall just now,” Debra insisted. “You were startled and injured and you still caught yourself. Just tell me what happened!”
Pam stopped at the door, silent. Katie looked on, looking unsure as to how to proceed.
When no one said anything, Debra pressed on. “I know what it’s like to be abused. To feel scared not only of the person you love, but of losing them. To feel like there’s nothing you can possibly do to please them. No way to end the suffering… but you can end the suffering right now. Tell me who’s abusing you.”
Pam looked back, a tear in her eye. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And then she walked away.
Katie didn’t say a word, frozen in the hallway as she searched for the right thing to say.
“On to the next patient,” Debra said eventually, her voice cracking under the strain of emotion. And with that, she shrugged her way into the next room. In it was a guy hovering over a girl.
“I’m fine, Chris,” the girl said, rolling her eyes. “I’ve felt fine since we were in the car.”
“No offense, Beth, but you’re fine when the doctor tells me you’re fine,” Chris said, looking up at Debra appreciatively. “Or a nurse. A nurse works too.”

Helpers. They love helping others, so much so that they often neglect themselves, which makes for good internal conflict.

Too many stories rely primarily on external conflict, neglecting the actual character. Story should always be about the character, done by making sure external conflict is the direct result of internal conflict. That’s what I’m striving to do here.

The story continues across the other Enneagrams! I hope you enjoy them!

Disclaimer: The enneagram doesn’t determine who a person is, nor what they’ll do. It is merely a tool that can help you better understand yourself and other people. (Which makes it pretty darn neat to apply to fake people, but dangerous if taken too far in real life)

Short Story: The Reformer (Enneagram 1)

Beth fought to keep the tears at bay as she examined her trembling fingers.
With a calming breath, she slammed her hands against the piano, forcing them back under control.
Her eyes were dry. The dead ends of her hair disheveled. Her body pleaded for sleep, but she would not acquiesce.
Beth looked around the room, not re-focusing on the piano until she was certain everything was in place. Her floor was vacuumed. Her closet organized. Her bed made and unused. Nothing out of place. Nothing to distract from her work. No excuses.
Satisfied, she rested her fingers on the keys, ignoring their pain. Then she played a melody, both soft and beautiful.
As the song took form, a moment was created. A moment without past or future. Without regret or anxiety. A moment where beauty existed, untouched, and untainted by the World.
There was no room for loneliness here. Only beauty. No room for doubt, or shame, or pity. There was no need for any of it. In this moment, there was only pride.
Beth allowed herself a trembling smile. In this moment, and in this moment alone, she felt beautiful, because she had created something beautiful.
She imagined performing the melody for a crowd. Thousands of people watching her play, enraptured by her melody.
If only she could show them. If only she could offer proof of her worth.
She imagined playing for her future children. Surrounding them with a sense of comfort and security that she had never known. A moment of beauty offered as a gift for her beloved.
Then a finger slipped. An errant note, and the moment had passed.
There was no crowd. There were no children. And loneliness crept its way back into her heart.
She let out a scream and slammed her hands down on the piano. A cacophony played in unison with her soul.
A life in discord.
“Shut. Up!” Someone yelled through the wall. “You’re keeping everyone awake!”
Beth bit back her retort, anger warring with guilt.
She held her fingers back over the piano, whispering an apology to her parents. No. One parent. Just one.
Suddenly, a knock came at the door, nearly startling her out of her bench.
“What?” She asked, struggling to regain her composure.
Her brother poked his head through the doorway. “Sounded pretty decent,” he said, studying her face.
She arched her eyebrow, her lips pursed together in an effort for self-control.
When she didn’t say anything, he stepped in, closing the door behind him. “You been practicing over in Cali?”
Beth shook her head, her eyes flicking between her brother and the piano.
“No? You don’t keep your roommates up at two in the morning?” He asked with a playful smirk.
“Shut up, Chris,” she said, a smile cracking through her scowl.
“There she is,” Chris said in mock celebration. “My little sister has returned from the d…”
Beth cut him off with a look, tears immediately forming on the cusp of her cheeks.
“Sorry,” he said sheepishly, “wasn’t thinking.”
A heavy silence followed, both of them lost in their own thoughts.
After a moment, Chris slipped a cigarette from his pocket, followed by a lighter.
“We’re not supposed to smoke in the house,” Beth said, her voice wavering.
“That was mom’s rule,” he said, inhaling the smoke as he sat on her bed.
“We’re in her house, aren’t we?” She asked, raising her voice. “Then we follow her rule.”
“Mom’s de—“
“It’s still her house!” Beth yelled, shaking as she stood, her hands balled into fists.
For a moment, Chris just stared at her, both of them unblinking. Eventually, he looked away, biting his lip as he put the cigarette out against his jeans.
That was the first time she’d realized Chris was fully clothed.
“You’re pretty well-dressed for two in the morning,” Beth said, straining her voice back toward civility as she sat back down.
It was Chris’ turn to fall silent. His hands trembled as he pushed himself further onto her bed, laying his head against her pillows.
“Wasn’t tired,” he said eventually, eyeing her stuffed animals.
“Liar,” Beth teased, doing her best to ignore the lingering smoke.
“I wasn’t,” Chris said defensively. “I couldn’t sleep.”
“No, I mean you lied about me keeping you awake.” She said accusingly.
Chris shook his head. “You were keeping dad awake.”
Beth frowned, turning back to her piano. “I doubt he’s sleeping either.”
Chris sat up in her bed, running his hands across the ragged fur of her teddy bear. “He typically falls asleep around now,” he said eventually. “Takes him awhile of just lying in bed, but he manages it most nights.”
Beth chewed on her lip, hearing the unspoken accusation. She would know more about dad if she had been around. She would have been there to say goodbye to mom. He doesn’t say it. But she’s all too aware.
“Anything else I should know?” She asked, tongue in cheek. But she meant it. More than anything.
Chris didn’t say anything, not wanting to hurt her feelings. As if that mattered anymore.
“Has he been… okay?” Beth asked, daring to meet her brother’s eyes.
“I guess,” Chris said, shrugging, tossing the teddy bear back on her bed. “He’s not really himself, but he’s… functional.”
Beth nodded, understanding how it felt to be merely functional. To be on the outside looking in on yourself. “He didn’t say a lot yesterday when I got in. He just kinda gave me a hug and then zoned out in the living room.”
Chris rolled to his feet, running his eyes across her walls. “Does your room look like this in LA?”
Beth chuckled, shaking her head. “It’s smaller there, and there’s hardly anything on the walls.”
Chris slapped the poster on her door, smirking back at her. “No ponies in LA?”
“Nah,” Beth said with a dry grin. “Not much room for them. Especially with a roommate.”
“Ooh,” Chris said, his eyes alight with interest. “Roommate? How old is she?”
“None of your business,” Beth said, her voice thick with disapproval.
“You don’t know, do you?” Chris asked with a wink. “Or you do know and you think she’d be into me…”
Beth rolled her eyes, turning back to the piano.
“Do you have late night conversations with her like this?” Chris asked teasingly. “Is she the sister you never had?”
Beth looked back, hurt by the levity in his voice. “No.”
Chris went quiet. “You did want a sister,” he said eventually.
“Because you were a dingus,” Beth agreed.
“Still am,” Chris said proudly. “There’s actually a dingus club that opened up a few years ago off 7th street. I’m kind of a big deal over there.”
Beth found herself smiling wider than she had in some time. Until Chris opened his mouth again.
“So, I don’t know if dad told you… it sounds like he didn’t…”
Beth furrowed her eyebrows, clearly uncertain of what Chris was referring to.
“I’m giving the eulogy,” he said, stumbling over his words. “And I was wondering if you wanted to add anything, or…”
Beth suddenly felt hollow. She had figured she wouldn’t be the one giving the eulogy, but only because she assumed their dad would give it. But for her brother to be chosen over her…
“Why?” Was the only word she could muster.
It was Chris’ turn to look confused. “I mean, I thought you might want me to say a few words on your behalf or something.”
“No,” Beth cut in. “Why you? Why would dad choose you?”
Chris’ face grew red as he fought back his retort. Instead, he pulled out another cigarette, angrily lighting it.
“I was close with mom,” Beth continued, raising her voice. “I understood her!”
“You left, Beth!” Chris shouted back, suddenly standing over her. “You haven’t known her in years!”
“We still talked!”
“Once a month!” Chris said, the cigarette in his hand shaking. “If that. You weren’t with her. You didn’t hold her hand through the seizures. You didn’t watch her mind go. Help her up and down the stairs. You didn’t know her at all.”
Beth rose to her feet, though she didn’t remember deciding to stand. The truth of his accusations resonated through her. He was right. She knew he was right, but to hear them outlaid was too much.
And almost as bad as knowing she let her mom down, was the fact that her brother resented her for it. She was flawed. And those flaws were now exposed for everyone to see.
Still, something in her fought. Attempting to scrounge together what pride she could manage. Wearing it like rusted armor to protect her from the truth. “I still knew her…”
“Not in the end,” Chris replied, his voice soft. Tired. “Not like us.”
“I…” Beth tried to say, but the breath caught in her chest. Her hands shook, not from anger, but fear. “No,” she tried to say, but her chest seized up.
“Beth?” Chris said, concerned. “Are you okay?”
Sweat began to bleed from her pours as the room swam around her. “Help,” she whispered as she struggled to breath.
“Beth!” Chris yelled, catching her before she hit the ground. “It’s okay. It’s gonna be okay.”
“Don’t let me die.” She panted as he gently laid her on the carpet.
“I won’t,” he promised, wiping the sweat from her face. “I’m going to bring you to the hospital.”
“Don’t. No hospital.”
“I bringing you,” he insisted, picking her up.
“No.” But she didn’t have the wherewithal to argue.
She felt like she was dying, all of her fears overwhelming her at once. But even amidst that feeling, she didn’t want to be a burden. Not on her brother or her dad. Not when they’d already lost mom, but it was too late.
She was the burden of the family. Not her brother. She was selfish and weak. The failure. Not beautiful. And still, she fought.
“Don’t bring me,” she said, barely registering the stairs as Chris carried her down them.
“I’m going to take care of you,” Chris cooed, holding her eyes with his. “It’s going to be okay.”
And in that moment, she believed him.

This is the beginning of a series of short stories based on the nine enneagrams. If you’re not familiar with the enneagram, there are nine of them, and there will be nine short stories to represent each one. These stories will also be tied to each other.

I’m not any kind of expert on the enneagram, but I do think it can be a nice tool for the creation of characters. And it’s my goal during these stories to show what it is like to create characters based off of constructs such as the enneagram.

So, #1 is the Reformer. Their basic desire is to be good. To be Perfect. They’re afraid of being defective. They run from their brokenness. So my goal was to portray that as succinctly as possible and then help the character to find love even amidst their brokenness. The lesson being that they don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love.

The tricky part to any of this isn’t setting any of this up, the tricky part is helping them to change.

For someone to change, their worldview has to be challenged and broken. Not from argument, but from action and consequence. So my challenge to you is to go back to the story, and look at how I am challenging Beth’s worldview.

I hope you enjoyed it!

Short Story: Maggie

“You’re acting weird,” I said, using my long cane to guide me down the boardwalk.
The coast was quiet, the smell of sea salt and sand washing over me.
“Am not,” Maggie said, touching my arm to let me know she was beside me. “I just wanted to swim.”
“I barely had time to leave Jeff and Sara a note before you dragged me out of the house.”
“You were wasting daylight,” she said, exasperated. “Just stop complaining, it’ll be fun.”
I shook my head, allowing her to take my hand. “I’m not swimming.”
“I’ll stay with you the whole time,” she said, giving my hand a squeeze. “What else are little sisters for?”
“I don’t care,” I said, “I’m not getting in the water.”
Maggie went quiet for a moment as she steered me off the boardwalk. The unevenness of the sand forced me to lean on her for support.
“You need to have some fun,” she said eventually.
I sighed, grimacing as we stumbled through the sand. “I have fun. I’m getting pretty good at wrestling. I’m working my way up the team.”
“And are they your friends?” She asked, her usual sassy demeanor coming through.
I shrugged, though the action may have been lost on her.
I went silent as she led me across what seemed to be a never-ending stretch of sand.
“Are we gonna stop anytime soon?”
“It’s a bit further,” she said, her breath short, likely exhausted from supporting me. “On the other side of these rock formations.”
“Why do we have to go so far? I can hear the Ocean right next to us.”
“It’s my favorite spot,” she said defensively. “My real parents used to take me here when I was a kid.”
I scoffed. “You’re still a kid.”
Maggie didn’t reply, guiding me closer to the water where the sand was easier to navigate.
I immediately worried that I hurt her feelings, something frustratingly hard to determine when I couldn’t see.
“My mom and I had a place like that,” I said after a moment. “We had a lake we would visit pretty often. She would feed the ducks while we talked… I’d like to go back there at some point.”
“I’m sure our foster parents would bring you there if you asked,” Maggie said, a hint of bitterness in her voice. “They adore you.”
I frowned, seized by guilt. “Jeff and Sara don’t love me any more than you.”
It was Maggie’s turn to scoff. “They don’t pay attention to me. If they’re not ignoring me, they’re yelling at me, there’s no in-between.”
“Maybe if you’d stop trying to run away, they’d have less reason to yell,” I said, squeezing her hand in an attempt to seem less harsh.
“So they could go right back to ignoring,” she said matter-of-factly, not quite managing to disguise her pain.
I didn’t reply, giving up for the moment. There was nothing I could do when she got like this; determined to feel sorry for herself. Her life wasn’t perfect, but…
“I care about you,” I said, smiling in her direction.
She squeezed my hand. “I know, which is why you get the privilege of joining me at my favorite spot. Speaking of which… we’ve arrived.”
I sighed in relief. “Describe it to me,” I said, letting go of her hand.
“The sand is super clean here, the water too, which is kind of a teal color. This section is secluded, surrounded by rocks, which is why it was our favorite.”
I nodded, picturing it in my head. I’d only been to the beach a handful of times before the incident, but I remembered how beautiful it was.
“Still not going to swim?” She asked, grabbing my elbow to pull me forward.
“No, I’ll watch… so to speak.”
“At least take off your shoes,” she said, forcing me to sit in the sand. “I mean, honestly. Who wears tennis shoes to the beach?”
“People forced there against their will,” I answered, dropping my cane as I pulled off my socks and shoes. “You know you’re gonna have to help me put these back on, right?”
“We’ll see,” Maggie said playfully as she pulled me to my feet, handing me back my cane. “But for now, you’re not gonna ruin my fun.”
Suddenly, I heard splashes in front of me, the sound of feet pattering through the shallow water.
“Come on!” She called. “Get your feet wet!”
My heart pounding, I stumbled my way closer to the water, the cane of little use on the uneven surface.
“Fine, but only my feet!” I called back, stepping onto the wet sand compacted by the waves.
I hadn’t been around water in years, especially not the Ocean. Despite myself, I had to admit the feeling was exhilarating.
“Alright, come guide me!” I yelled, moving slightly closer.
There was no reply.
“Maggie, I need your help!”
Still no answer. My heart starting racing. “Don’t overreact,” I whispered, “she just didn’t hear.”
“Maggie!” I yelled, dropping my cane as I pressed further into the water.
Still no reply.
Starting to panic, I fell to my knees, dragging my hands across the coarse sand.
“Maggie!” I yelled again, the waves overpowering the sound of my voice. I never should have come out here with her alone.
“Maggie!” I yelled louder, my voice shaking with fear.
I crawled across the sand, the waves washing across my hands and legs.
“It’s okay,” I whispered, attempting to breathe calmly. “Don’t panic.”
I inched further into the Ocean, shaking with fear.
“Don’t do this to me!” I yelled. “Come back!”
There was no response. The only sounds were of the seagulls squawking over the crashing waves.
“She didn’t leave you here,” I whispered, reassuring myself. “She wouldn’t do that.” But the alternative…
I crawled further, struggling to stay upright as the undercurrent pulled at my legs.
“You know it’s pointless for me to look for you!” I yelled, not daring to crawl any further. “Say something! I’m serious!”
Alarms went off in my head, my hair standing on end. She would have said something by now if she could hear me.
Maybe she just ran away again. Or maybe she just swam too far down the coast…
True panic set in as I forced myself further into the Ocean, frantically casting my arms about in the water for any trace of her.
Minutes passed without any sign of her, the water steadily rising to my chest. Within each second that passed, I clung harder to the hope that she had merely run away. I fought the urge to yell, trying to listen for her instead.
Desperate, I pressed through the water toward the largest splashes I could hear, hoping one of them would be Maggie.
I tried to recall the swimming lessons when I was a kid, attempting to pull myself through the water, but it was useless.
More time passed. Nothing.
“Help!” I yelled, hoping someone would hear me.
“Help!” I yelled again, praying for a passerby.
Still no response.
Tears fell down my face as I felt my way through the waves. Dread began to take hold of me. She had been gone for far too long.
And yet, I couldn’t bring myself to stop searching, no matter how hopeless. If she hadn’t run away…
She was my responsibility; the only person in her life she really trusted, and I let her down.
Finally, I accepted the fact that I couldn’t save her.
“Help!” I yelled as loud as possible, moving back toward the shore. “Anyone, help!”
I gathered speed once I found shallower water, finally certain of which direction to run. Once I made it make to the sand, I turned left, orienting myself with the coast.
“Help!” I yelled repeatedly, running as fast as I could along the compacted sand.
Over and over again, I fell, tumbling into the sand only to get up and keep running. Someone had to be on this beach.
It seems like miles before he finally heard someone respond to his calls.
“Hey!” Someone yelled nearby.
I stumbled to a stop, instinctively holding out my arms in their direction.
“What’s wrong?” A woman’s voice asked from a short distance. I heard multiple footsteps moving through the sand.
“I can’t see and I lost my little sister,” I said frantically. “You have to help me find her.”
There was a moment of silence before the woman took my hand. Then a man spoke.
“Where did you last see her?” He asked, his voice urgent.
“We were past the rock formations,” I said, pointing behind me.
Without another word, the man ran past me, leaving me behind with the woman.
“I’m Veronica,” she said, holding my hand tight as we jogged through the sand. “We’ll find her, don’t worry. I’m calling the police.”
“Do you see him?” I asked.
“Hello? We have a missing person at East Beach…”
“Can you see them?” I asked again, shaking with fear.
She didn’t answer until she’d hung up with the police. “I can’t see past the rocks.”
Too frightened to wait, I ran back down the coast, my heart pounding.
I could hear Veronica following me, eventually grabbing my hand to force me to stop. “We’re past the rocks,” she said. “Sean is still looking. How far were you past the rocks?”
“I don’t know,” I said hopelessly, falling to my knees.
“It’s okay,” she said, patting me on the back. “I’m going to look for her too, okay? And the cops are on their way. Just stay here, we’ll find her before it gets dark.”
I nodded, listening as she ran through the sand into the water.
Trembling, I slammed my fists into the sand, screaming until I couldn’t any longer, collapsing in the sand.
Then all was darkness.

I opened my eyes, immediately grabbing the sunglasses from my nightstand.
“We’re going to put out some more signs, honey,” Sara said, patting me on the shoulder.
I nodded, feeling for the cane propped against my nightstand. “I’m coming.”
“You don’t have to,” she said soothingly. “I know it’s early.”
I shook my head, getting to my feet. “Just give me a minute, I’ll be right down.”
I could feel the weight of her smile as she left my room. Every morning since her disappearance, we put out more signs, holding onto the hope that Maggie had merely run away.
So far, she hadn’t turned up on any reports, nor had she surfaced at the beach, and with each passing day, I allowed my anger to drive me, refusing to acknowledge the sadness within.
If she ran, I had every right to be angry… and the alternative was too difficult for me to consider. So I chose to be angry.
I helped my parents search for her every morning for two weeks before giving up. My parents, however, never did.
Eventually, even my anger could no longer keep my depression at bay. I quit the wrestling team and spent most of my time in her old room, going through her things and picturing what it used to be like with her there.
The very first day after her disappearance, we found Maggie’s journal underneath her pillow. There was nothing else Maggie cared more about than her journal, and I never said this, but she would never have left us without it.
Both the cops and our parents read it, but said it didn’t contain anything useful. They even read parts of it to me, but I couldn’t handle listening to her thoughts and feelings like that. So back in her room it went.
Still, I liked to hold her journal when I was in her room. It made me feel close to her, despite not knowing what was inside. I would even run my hands along its pages while I replayed that last day with her in my mind.
Then, more than a month after her disappearance, I found something on the last few pages of her journal.
At first, I thought it was just a slight imperfection of the paper: a speck of dirt or bump of some type. Then I pressed harder, rubbing the pages together with my fingers.
It was brail.
My heart racing, I felt my way back through the pages to the first few bumps I could find:
Hi, Stephen.
It took me a while
to learn brail for
you, but it was worth
it. I just want to
let you know that
I love you, and I
hope to see you
again someday.
Just in case they
Care, tell Jeff and
Sara I’ll be okay.
I’m going to miss
you, but I need to
find my own way.
I don’t feel whole.
I’m missing a piece
of me and I don’t
know what it is.
But when I figure
it out, and I’m ready,
I’ll come back to you.
I promise.
With all of me,
Little sister.

This story came about from an idea I had, which was to try and write a story from the perspective of someone who couldn’t see.

I thought it would be fun to use all other descriptors except for sight because we tend to rely on visuals too often. So it was really just a fun exercise for me.

Then I decided there should be a very clear environment that we could still imagine easily, so I chose a body of water to keep us oriented. And the rest just came as a wrote.

One of the biggest deterrents for writers can be the lack of “amazing ideas.” Don’t let that stop you. If something sounds interesting to you, then pursue it. Diving into that creative part of your mind will likely stir up better and better ideas; things you would have never thought have had you not allowed yourself to explore.

This piece was actually a top selection in an international contest. I hope you enjoyed it! I will be writing more short stories soon, so keep an eye out!