Role Reversal

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The cruel disease that rips families apart, turning loved ones into people they no longer recognise.

Submitted: September 20, 2017

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Submitted: September 20, 2017





“There’s something odd going on,” Meg said. “I’ve just had a call from Margaret, she said Mum had turned up on her door-step late last night, cold, and upset. After making her a cup of tea, she walked her back home. Can you meet me at the bungalow in an hour?”

“Are you telling me she had wandered out alone late at night?” 

“Anne, I don’t want to talk about it until I know the facts, but it sounds that way.” 

“Okay,” See you there… bye.” 

Anne looked down at her phone, panic beginning to take hold. It was shocking news, but she had noticed how frail her Mum had looked recently. She feared that coping with her father who had vascular dementia, was taking its toll. 

She pulled on to the drive of her parent’s bungalow with a heavy heart.

“Hi Dad. Everything okay?” She tried to sound upbeat, despite the alarm bells that rang in her head.

He looked up at her from his chair, his face etched in angry lines, his eyes red and wild. “It’s your mother, she’s been a cow.”

Her stomach lurched in shock. “Dad, don’t speak like that about Mum. Where is she?”

“She’s gone off again. I know what she’s up to. She thinks I’m stupid, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” He thumped his walking stick on the carpet for added emphasis.

“What’s going on Dad?” Meg asked from the doorway, her voice tense. 

Anne had never been so relieved to see her sister in all her life.

“She’s seeing other men, that’s what, the dirty whore.” His face was contorted with rage, his fingers curled into tight fists.

Anne felt her throat constrict. She could not believe what her kind, loving father had just said. “Dad, that’s a terrible thing to say. She’s eighty two years old, it’s ridiculous.” She choked back her tears.

“I wonder if Mum’s gone to Margaret’s again,” Meg snapped. “I’ll go and see, while you stay here with Dad.” 

In Meg’s absence, Anne searched the bungalow, the garage, the garden shed, her voice becoming ever more hysterical. 

“Margaret hasn’t seen her since last night,” Meg reported. Panic now evident in her voice. “Says she seemed afraid to go back inside the bungalow.”

“Meg he scared her. She hadn’t wandered but escaped.” Anne whispered.

“But he can hardly walk. Even Mum could knock him over with a feather. Have you looked everywhere?”

“Meg I’ve searched the place. This is awful, we’ll have to report her missing, and what are we going to do about Dad? She nudged Meg into the kitchen out of ear-shot. “He’s mentally unstable, delusional. We need to send for the doctor.”

“I know.” Meg said, tears streaming down her face. They stood for a moment clinging to each other, traumatised by the situation that had so suddenly changed their lives.”

“Was that the door?” Meg turned and raced to the front door.

Mr. Wilkinson’s face was solemn. “I’m so glad you two are here. Your Mum is in the car, she walked into the post-office asking for help. She had no coat on, and was wearing only slippers. She is really upset. ”


“Come on Mum, you’re safe now. Here drink this tea.” Anne placed a steaming mug on the kitchen table, while Meg wrapped her in a warm blanket. 

“What happened?” Anne asked. 

She looked up, terror in her small, bird-like, dark eyes. “Your father is a wicked man.”

Anne took her hands. “Mum, you can tell us.”

Her head dropped. “I am too ashamed to tell you, he is a wicked, evil man.”

Anne looked over at Meg. “They’re not safe to be left alone. We need help, I’ll contact the doctor.”


“I’m afraid patients with vascular dementia can become volatile, it’s not uncommon for them to hallucinate, and what he thinks he is seeing is making him upset and angry. I’ll prescribe some tranquillizers which should calm him down, it is a condition that typically has peaks and troughs. Hopefully it will plateau out again with medication.”

“Okay sir, I need you to take a tablet for me, do you understand?”

With relief Anne watched her father swallow the tablet down. “Thank you, you’re so kind,” he said, looking up at the doctor. She noticed his mood had already lifted, he seemed contrite; tears shone in his eyes, as he tried to reach out for her mother’s hand.

“There are enough tablets here to last until tomorrow, when you can get the prescription. He will soon become drowsy, so I suggest he takes some bed rest. I strongly recommend one of you stay here with your parents tonight, and I’ll return to assess him again tomorrow.”

“I’ll stay,” Anne offered. “You still have your own family to think about, and he seems much calmer now.”


“You’re not leaving me with him are you?”

“No Mum.”

“I don’t want to sleep in the same room.”

“It’s okay Mum, we’ll both sleep in the spare room.”

Later on, Anne crept into the bedroom with some tea and toast for her father. As she sat by the bedside he grabbed her hand. “Anne, tell her I’m sorry… I don’t know what came over me, you know how much I love her.” When he began to sob, she hugged him to her as if comforting a small child. “It’s okay Dad, let it all out.”


Anne sat up with a start. “Where is she?” her father yelled, bursting into the room with a ferocity that belied his frail state. She leapt out of bed. “Dad, she’s in here with me, look.”

“I know what she’s been up to again.” He staggered towards his frail, cowering wife brandishing a walking stick, his eyes wild.

“Don’t you dare hurt her,” Anne screamed, trying to shield her terrified mother.


“Where’s your father?”

“He’s in hospital.”

“What for?”

“To have some tests.”

In a relentless cycle, Anne provided the same answers to the same questions… 

© Copyright 2018 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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