A stream of consciousness experiment.

And yet another tooth cradled in my palm. Indemnities of age, the rot has set in. I keep them, though. They're not for tossing away. In a little purse that I tuck away inside my coat. I expect my fingers to break off like twigs on a branch any day now, but I've been anticipating that for years and nothing has come of it. Pain. What is pain but life turning on itself? I ache. I am the arche of ache. All of my pain starts with me. I am receiver, vessel and home, and the final messenger. What I've been given, nurtured and shared. Most of it I've tried to protect, to keep it from the world. But my pain is my own, no word can rightfully convey what it is I feel or experience. When others have spoken to me of what ails them I took them for fools. How did they know what it meant to ache? There pain was unlike mine. Mine was actually in my body, in my head. It was real within me. They lied. And while I'm no saint, a through and through immoral success, at least I've always been honest. My degradation is honest. I count ten teeth in my palm. Small, rotten, worn down. Cracks. There are eleven pieces but only ten teeth in total. One broke in two. My body is made up of multitudes that are no longer working together. Their alliance to uphold life and to strive for the next generation has waned and failed as they are beset with arguments and weariness. My mind is not my own either. I am here now, but only for a while. My memories are growing dim and slipping away from me and what new ones I make are stained in confusion and fear. I keep forgetting that I have dementia. When I can name it I become sad, and yet I still find things to laugh about. My fingers glide over the books in my care. Decades of collecting, years of sifting through them for the knowledge that would make the approach of death easier to stomach. Which ones have I read and which ones remain to be read? The books are the soul of the home and I its purveyor of deceit. I have lied to the world as to what I was. Which was what again? I drift off, and I watch myself go through routines and motions, growing frustrated when things don't go as planned. Simple tasks going awry can make me quite irate. My bowels trouble me. Such are the troubles of old age. Can't piss, can't shit, but when I do, let there be blood. I should perhaps spare you the details, but I'm only talking to myself, I know what I see and I wish I could remember what I forgot, instead of being confronted by these travesties of my decline. I count my teeth. Ten. Molars and some front teeth. Though I've never taken a shining to my smile, I always thought it week and devious, I've grown to admire my grin that resembles the facade of a building with its windows blown out. My face droops with gravity. Sad, red eyes glare back at me. Like a hound waiting to slobber all over the knee of its master, looking for a kind hand, begging, am I a good boy? Was I? I still hear my mother's screeching. That will never go away. That voice, that damnation. I hope there isn't a hell. I wouldn't want to see her again. I ain't going to Heaven, and even if there was I'd rather not. There's gotta be something else to choose from. Life has brought me to this point. Counting my lost teeth, watching the twitch in my pinky with suspicion. Are you about to snap off little twig? Life has made demands of me. Brought me to witness my demise, and what can I offer up at these last, small hours that stretch over days but feel not so? There are no progeny to carry my name forth. Every woman I've ever loved cruelly left me abandoned and alone. Can I blame them? The only love I knew was what I had been taught by my mother, and what did she know of love? Perhaps I should sow my teeth, thought I doubt skeletons will spring forth. These are not dragon's teeth. No, they are mine. Some weeds will grow from where I am buried. Weeds that will choke the life out of the soil. In life, as in death. But who will bury me? Just one more thing I must do by myself. Life has brought me to this. Sowing teeth and digging my own grave. I've thought of this before. A shovel rests besides a hole. I forget, I remember, I dig a little more. The dirt dug out from the hole is dry. I've been at this a while. No coffin, no headstone. My name will be dust, my body, worm food. I dug too deep. My body, as thin and starving as it might be, is far too heavy for my feeble arms. I suppose here I'll stay for now. Counting my teeth. Eleven. There are twelve pieces. One broke in two. Eleven teeth means that I don't have much remaining. Little finger twitches. The night. Oh, how I've loved the stars. Blackness in the heavens. Glimpses of lights. Upon my chest are three little moles, neatly in a line that runs diagonally down from my upper left side to the lower right side. Orion's belt, my mother used to say. I always look up to try and find those three stars. I still hear her voice. It is dimming. The sunrise is coming, but the warmth does not reach me. My body cannot move. I listen to the wind, to the birds. Beauty, present all around me, fading from me. My pain, my pain is no longer mine. It has abandoned me and left me with low breaths. The blue sky is darkening as the such reaches its meridian. Oh for the want of the stars the night was lost. I am become death, the destroyer of pain. I'm not ready. 

Submitted: October 17, 2022

© Copyright 2023 Alexander Byrne. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



If there is such a term as downlifting {as opposed to uplifting} this story certainly qualifies. If that is the Authors intent he has succeeded handsomely with this tale of horror.

Mon, October 17th, 2022 8:33pm


Not everything has to be a happy story, right?

Mon, October 17th, 2022 10:26pm


Excellent writing, Alexander. Spot on with the descriptions.

Tue, October 18th, 2022 10:21am


Thanks, Hull. It means a lot coming form you!

Tue, October 18th, 2022 4:37am


Vivid imagery. I wonder if paragraphs would have been a boon here?

Thu, October 20th, 2022 4:54pm


Thanks. I probably should've used some paragraphs, but I also thought that it was short enough that in a way an absence of 'em would lend itself a bit more to the stream of consciousness effect I was going for. If I were to write this out into a longer piece, I most likely would use some paragraphs. It was a little experiment born from a single image that I'm quite happy with.

Thu, October 20th, 2022 1:46pm

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