My Mum visited with us briefly this weekend. We don’t get to see her as often as I would like because she lives in another state. It was so lovely to catch up and chat. During her visit, she was telling me about a creative writing group that she belongs to in which all the stories must be written in 800 words or less.
This got me thinking and wondering if I could write a story in only 800 words. It would be challenging as my motto is usually why use only one word when you could use 10? But, I gave it a go and here is the result. I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.
A short story by Megan Ruffino
There was once a beautiful and slightly righteous angel living in Heaven. He was very gifted and amazing in just about every way but he struggled a bit with compassion and empathy. He simply couldn’t understand why some humans found it so hard to do the right thing and follow the rules.
One day he was sent on a surprise professional development mission to the world. Not quite knowing what to expect the angel reported for duty as directed. His last memory was stepping onto the transportation cloud.
He was instantly transported with no memory of his past life into the body of a newborn boy. This boy was born as the only son and youngest sibling of a large and noisy family.
Family life was loud and chaotic with lots of shouting and yelling. The boy and former angel struggled to find peace. He found himself feeling quite jumpy and stressed and like he didn’t quite fit in. He had no memory of his former life but deep inside he was missing Heaven.
This family lived in a lucky country with public education and health care and no wars. His parents still had to work hard and they earned nearly enough money to have an easy life. When his parents weren’t working hard they were playing hard smoking and drinking and socialising. To the boy, it seemed as if they were having so much fun drinking and socialising and he couldn’t wait until he could be a grown-up and do it too.
The boy and all his older sisters spent a lot of time looking after each other and doing pretty much what they wanted to as long as they didn’t make a big fuss about it and draw their parent’s attention.
The boy grew older and had lots of friends. To anyone looking, he appeared confident and assured but he still struggled to feel as though he fit in. People and life, in general, made him nervous most of the time.
One day when he was a teenager the boy met someone out at a gathering who appeared to have found what he was looking for. They were so assured, so happy and also very drunk. He asked, “What does drinking feel like?”. The reply was, “It feels like Heaven.”
He wasn’t yet a grown-up but he boy had seen his parents and their friends drinking and knew it was a fun grown-up thing to do. He desperately wanted to feel like Heaven too. So he got drunk and he enjoyed it a lot. He enjoyed it so much that he did it as often as he could and was so happy when he was finally old enough to do it whenever he wanted.
He enjoyed feeling his jumpiness turn into confidence and his stress into relaxation. When he was drinking he felt so good and so connected with everyone and no longer like he didn’t quite fit in. He certainly felt on top of the world but was this feeling like Heaven?
This boy continued to chase Heaven in this way but all the time he was looking for it his life was getting worse and worse and became a living Hell for him and his family who loved him so very much.
The drinking that had started out as so much fun was now consuming his every moment. Now, because he had trained his brain that drinking was its reward, it became the only way he could even feel OK and every time he tried not to drink he felt terrible.
The boy knew that something had to change in his life for it to get better. Everyone told him that the answer was so simple, to just stop drinking. But the boy was afraid. Drinking was the only thing that helped him to cope with all the negative thoughts and feelings that he had and without it, his body and mind screamed in pain from withdrawal.
The boy needed help to understand that he could take charge of his thoughts and that a lot of what he was currently thinking wasn’t actually true. This didn’t seem right to the boy at first. He believed his thoughts but most of the time they made him feel bad and feel like a drink.
But he practised and learned that he could hear when his thoughts were negative and not serving him. Once he could recognise his negative thoughts he could stop them and turn them around and think something better instead. Thinking better thoughts gave him better feelings. Better feelings meant that he didn’t feel like he needed to drink nearly as much and he got more good stuff done with better results. This gave him confidence and finally the Heaven on Earth he was searching for.
I’d love to know what you think. It’s certainly not polished but I’m quite proud of it. Especially that it is exactly 800-words. 🙂