Cotton Wool

By Gemma Sidney

The poor bastard never saw it coming. It hit him like a giant-sized cotton bud to the back of the head, like a mallet beating a drum, resonating all around him. The man had been completely blindsided.

Before the strike, he’d had a life, a wife, a daughter. Jessica – his daughter’s name. He tried to say it out loud, but found he was unable to make a sound. The more he tried to force out the word, the drier his mouth became and the more he felt the thing in his throat, there since the strike. Placing his fingers inside his mouth, the man tugged on what had been clogging his throat. He dislodged it and discarded it on the ground – balled-up cotton wool, completely dry.

The man, still mute, had to think hard to try to remember the faces of his wife and daughter. All he could come up with was:

  • Wife: Brown eyes, hair. Soft features. Freckles. Warm smile.
  • Daughter, Jessica: Early teens. Long, dark blonde hair. Adores her father.

He felt around inside the pockets of his jeans for his wallet, in the hope that it might still contain a photo of at least one of the two, but his pockets were empty. Had he been robbed? The man tried to recall what he’d been doing before the strike hit, before he’d been sent here.

He’d been working at the hardware store and had a thumping headache from last night’s alcohol. By keeping to the back of the store and tidying the garden supplies, he’d managed to avoid the customers and, even better, his boss (Boss: Fifties. Overweight. Bad breath. Bully.). He was wearing the same grey polo shirt, blue jeans and sneakers as now. So where were the contents of his pockets? Where were the keys that would start his car (Car: Toyota sedan. Brown. Dented bumper) and take him home to his wife and Jessica that evening?

The more details the man tried to remember, the more frustrated he became when no memory came. It was as though his head was filled with cotton wool. The remnants of the past, written on his soul, were broken apart. He looked around at the whiteness surrounding him. There was nothing here for him now. He started running, desperately looking for an exit. As he ran, the white walls wobbled, but wouldn’t budge.

Breathless, the man fell down in a white corner, rested his head in his hands, and decided to wait. He was powerless to fight the strike of the pen that had cast him out of the story and ended his life as he knew it.

The man cursed himself. Next time, he would do better. He would work harder to be a better husband and father, to be a better character. He resolved himself to be the hero of the next story. He would become immortal!

And so he waited for the next writer who required his services. The poor bastard.

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One Response to Cotton Wool

  1. Adina says:

    What a fresh idea ! I loved the molting humor behind each line!

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