Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vignettes by Me, on Themes Picked Randomly: Day 20

Theme 310: Hope

At the table in the atrium, Penia contemplates her wedding plans. She pages through a wedding invitation catalog and places sticky tabs on the pocket-fold designs she prefers. She will have to ask Stanley, her fiancé, for his thoughts before making a decision, though. She turns to the samples of bouquet arrangements and centerpieces the florist gave her. She lingers over the burgundy zinnias and peach peonies, even though she has already committed to white and silver as the chromatic motifs best complimenting the Winter’s Tale theme of the wedding. She pictures white benches adorned with silver streamers and white velveret ribbons, aligned in rows facing the shimmering lake beyond the Wexford Manor garden, the location reserved for the ceremony. This prompts Penia to open the folder with the seating chart so that Stanley can review it as soon as he returns from his council meeting. She looks up at the clock bolted high on the wall. Dissatisfied with the time, she impatiently pushes her hair back in order to scratch the raised parabolic scar running across her left temple.

Beyond the door to the atrium lies a long dim hallway with gentian blue porcelain tiles. Embedded in the junction of the hallway is a nurses station, formed by a low wall mounted with formica counters and affixed with a corner l-desk that houses rows of patient charts and a terminal monitor. The nursing office can be seen through a glass door behind the station. The newly hired nursing assistant, a broad-shouldered man wearing crisp scrubs over his pullover, rests his elbows on the counter and watches Penia through the atrium doorway. Stamped above his scrub-tee’s breast pocket are the words Lakeview Psychiatric Hospital.

“That patient, Penia, she’s always in there with her wedding stuff—is she going to get married soon?” the nursing assistant asks.

In the swivel chair at the terminal next to him, his supervisor, a stocky woman with frizzy red hair who has been working in this psychiatric ward for eleven years, looks down the quiet, freshly mopped hallway and lets out a weary sigh of resignation. At last she replies, “Well, that’s the thing with Penia. She was all set to be married when she and her fiancé got in this horrible wreck. She suffered a severe head injury. Her fiancé was killed. She was brought here after she recovered, physically. At first they thought it was just temporary traumatic stress, causing her to be mentally stuck in the time before the accident. But that was eight years ago.”

The nursing assistant frowns and leans further over the counter to view Penia sitting at the atrium table once more. He sees her still holding the seating chart folder while gazing through the barred window with a faraway smile, brought on by her imagined forthcoming marital bliss.

Explanatory Postscript: When I say “picked randomly,” I mean picked from a Master List that I’ve compiled of 999 themes intended to serve as creative writing prompts (from the following sources: 501 Writing Prompts; 25 Creative Writing Prompts; Examples of Themes; List of Themes; 365 Creative Writing Prompts; 100 Themes Challenge Writing Prompts; List of Journal Ideas; and Top 10 Types of Story Themes). To pick a theme at random, I roll three ten-sided dice (the first for the hundreds place digit, the second for the tens, and the third for the singles) and find the theme under the number I have rolled. If I hit a theme I have already written on, I roll again. If I ever roll 000, I make up a theme. The Master List is a secret, so don’t ask for it.

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