Tip 01: Remove Sticky Lable Remnants

We can all agree that the worst thing that a lable can do, aside from upset minorities, is tear and leave some glue or paper behind. Instinctively, we try to scrub it off with warm water and soap. That’s actually the opposite of what you should do. There are actually three — yes, three — approaches hear based on the situation.

If it just left glue behind, you’re in luck because putty known as “tic tac” and “Prestik” will usually get it off. Patiently stick, wait, remove. Once a piece of putty is saturated, throw it away.

Tougher glue and pieces of paper require a more expensive approach: duct tape, also called “silver tape” in some regions despite the array of colours available. Cut or break off a few pieces of duct tape. Now, one piece at a time, apply them to the affected area. Give them a chance to adhere, then pull them off. Repeat and gradually the annoyance is removed.

Final solution. You’ll need a scraping tool like a metal ruler or buttering knife and possibly some liquid nitrogen, though the freezer usually works. Freeze the offending sticky matter and scape. Glue gets brittle when cold, thus causing it to come off with ease.

This post was originally written with sticky lable residue and putty in mind, but I figured I’d also share the rest. Generally, putty does the job with enough patience.

Well, that’s it for now. Good luck next time you face packaging from hell.


Tip 00: Prologue

I’ll be writing a series of tips. I won’t be using the term “life hack” because I hate it. I considered “protip” briefly, but then I thought, “To hell with it, I’m going old school. A spade is a spade, a tip is a tip.” Thus I’ll be sailing under this banner, dull as it seems. And in the spirit of balance and concurrency, my next post will be a tip.

Fiction: The Z-Word – Part 1

My name was Tod Wilson, but like just about everyone, I now go by my handle, Z33 (pronounced “Zee”). This is my personal account of the events spanning the most recent era in human history — and my life.

“This is the way the world ends. Not with bang, but a whimper.” — T.S. Eliot.

Everyone had their own ideas about the finer points regarding the infamous “Zombie Apocalypse”, but I think most, if not all, ran pretty congruent: that it was a plot device reserved for games and B-grade horror movies. The irony wasn’t just that it actually happened, but that it wasn’t a plague, a bio-weapon, an alien parasite, or a rage-infected monkey. It was judgement — of sorts, from someone, from somewhere, because of something. There was no nation-wide panic, no epic battles with the military, no cops firing desperately at unending hordes, no groups of mercenaries crying out “Fire!” in Russian accents, no presidential speeches, only plain and simple unforgiving judgement. It just happened: one day everything was normal, the next it was as if we were a few months into the nightmare. Nobody knows whose God was responsible. The Christian religions claimed it was End of Times and started preparing for a Rapture that they finally gave up on a year later, the Islamic religions said it was their Lord’s wrath upon a liberal and decadent society, the Scientologists said some distant bad guy had sent out waves and that this was the prelude to the final battle, even the Jewish people managed to dig up a few prophecies. Of course a year passed by as every religion became less and less vocal until they were back to telling people not to screw around or jerk off. At the end of the day, not even a scientist with the most expensive equipment money could buy was able to find a pathogen responsible for turning people, or even a genetic reason why those who survived did. The survivors didn’t have any specific race, gender, religion, or even fitness levels in common. It was almost like the whole thing was random, like some really sick joke, like some really bad piece of fiction.

14 February 2016

I woke to the sound of screaming. Glancing at my alarm clock, I saw “00:10” in glowing red on the liquid chrystal display. Assuming the noise was another domestic disturbance from our perpetually-drunk neighbours, I rolled over and put my earphones in.

I woke to the sound of more screaming. A blood-curdling howl so overwhelming that even my music couldn’t drown it out, followed by a maniacal laugh like something out of one of my anime. This time it wasn’t coming from the neighbours, this time it was coming from my house. In a mixture of shock and fear, I ripped my earphones out, stood up into my slippers, and grabbed the screwdriver from my computer desk — all in one fluid movement that would’ve made even an olympian gymnast envious. Cautiously, I approached my door — which I kept locked for the same obvious reason any healthy teenager did: to prevent my parents catching me in the act, especially while watching porn. Slowly, after peeking through the keyhole, I began unlocking it. Thud! It was as if a dead body had been hurled at the door. Suddenly there was a wild rattling of the handle followed by another blood-curdling scream. While most male 16-year-olds would’ve immediately rushed out to ensure the safety of their loved ones, I was not filled with hormone-induced bravado. My immediate concern was my own safety. I wasn’t brave, I wasn’t aggressive, and I definitely was not a hero. All I was, was rational. My lack of enthusiasm was not to say I didn’t love my family, simply that my logic told me I had no chance facing an enemy head-on if they’d been able to take down my dad.

Rattle, rattle, thud! The door handle kept turning and the door kept shaking. Whoever was on the other side was clearly relentless enough that it was only a matter of time before the door gave in. I was running out of time. I turned to my bed and began pulling and pushing it until it was flush against the door. Next I grabbed my schoolbag and emptied it onto the floor before packing it with a six-pack of cola, some Pringles, my backup hard drive, clothes, a roll of duct tape, and a blanket. After my bag was packed, I hurriedly slipped on my boots, all the while the sound of the lock and hinges of the door continued to moan as though ready to give way any moment. Finally, I rolled my curtain over my fist and began knocking all the glass out of one of my windows. “I’m not doing too bad,” I chuckled to myself as climbed out and my father burst through the door.

“Dad?” I asked cautiously, filled with a surreal sense of disbelief. He was covered in blood, and not all his own judging by the coagualating drip marks running from his mouth, down his neck, and under his T-shirt. “Dad, what the fuck?!”

He didn’t reply he just gurgled, growled, and pulled himself towards me.

Instinctively, I dropped from the window and ran, my will to survive overriding the myriad of questions and even my shock at the scene.

A few houses down, I stopped at my friend, Jamie’s house. The streets were filled with the echoes of that same blood-curdling howl, but luckily there was nobody in sight. Cautiously, I knocked on the door. There was no reply so I phoned her. Her mobile was either off or obliterated because it went straight to voicemail.

“Arsen!” I called, but no sound nor light eminated from her home. “Arsen! You alive?! Please, I think the shit hit the fan,” I called, suddenly realising how I’d just accepted everything, despite my best efforts not to.

I was just turning to leave when the front door opened and Arsen emerged, covered in blood.

“Oh, shit!” I cried, about to start running.

“Wait!” she called. bounding toward me as fast as her skinny legs would allow. Jamie, or Arsen as she was known, wasn’t skinny in the supermodel sense, but more in the half-starved-anemic-gamer sense. “Zee, I’m not a Zom-”

“Don’t say it!” I yelled, interrupting her as she flung her arms around me.

“What?” she asked, releasing me and staring at me with a puzzled look.

“The Z-word,” I replied, suddenly remembering how similar we sounded to a scene in Shaun of the Dead.

“You sound like Simon Pegg. I would laugh, but I’m too fucked up right now. I’m in that place past emotions, you know, like when you’re so sad or angry, you just… I don’t even know what I’m feeling. Zee, I just killed my parents!”

Without thinking, I threw my arms around her. She felt so delicate in that moment, so different from her usual self who was always talking big and showing off, trying to prove how tough she was. I’d always seen her as a girl, but I’d never seen her as feminine or vulnerable until that moment. The toughest person I knew was now clinging to me, desperate for something, and I didn’t even know what to say to her.

“So what now?” I asked, trying to remind her of our situation without being too course.

“I don’t know, Zee, I don’t have a fucking clue,” she replied.

“We can’t stay here, the neighbours will start coming for us,” I said, releasing myself from the embrace and gripping her by the shoulders. “Right now, your house is clear. But it won’t stay that way. I say we load your dad’s truck with essentials and get the hell out of here. You look for supplies — tins, jars, dried shit, you know, non-perishables — I’ll look for anything we can use as weapons.”

“There’s my dad’s .38-” she began, her demeanour becoming awkward.

“Is that what you used?” I asked, feigning sympathy. Not that I wasn’t genuinely sympathetic — she was my oldest and best friend — however, rationality told me that ascertaining the number of rounds left was priority.

“Yes,” she said, shivering with a deep inhalation. “I tried to warn them, but they kept coming.” Her face started to tremble and her eyes glistened in the porch light.

“I’m sorry, let’s just leave it,” I replied, despite having every intention of sneaking it into my pocket as we made our final trip to the truck. “Just put it out your mind, I’ll get us somewhere safe,” I lied, giving her a quick hug and reassuring pat on the back.

“Thanks,” she said, swallowing hard and heading back inside the house. As she reached the front door, she turned and smiled at me. “My dad keeps a box of ammo in the gun safe, it’s already open.”

For a moment, I stared in silence.

“I know you Zee, you were gonna sneak the gun when I wasn’t looking. Thank again,” she smiled, turning and disappearing into the house.

“For what?!” I called.

“For caring about my feelings. For lying about getting us somewhere safe. For stopping by here,” she called back.

“It was on my way,” I said as I stepped through the doorway into dark house.

After collecting the gun and bullets, I began searching for other weapons or useful objects. I grabbed kitchen knives, mop handles, gasoline containers, anything of pragmatic value. Meanwhile my mind was already racing, trying to put together something, anything, from an escape strategy to what was going on, all the while being vigilant, waiting for an affected neighbour to come rushing out looking for fresh flesh. But there were still so many variables still. So much had happened and this was just the start. In the end there were only three things that made sense: Firstly, to head for the shopping mall. I could get a blade there — a sword or even a machete — at the home security shop or the hardware shop in the case of the machete. Unlike guns, a blade wouldn’t run out of bullets. There’d also be supplies there, and maybe even people. Secondly, we had to keep our eyes open for survivors. Logically, at this point, anyone left alive was skilled at something, making them useful. Thirdly, try to get ahold of the largest vehicle possible. Not only could a bigger vehicle hold more people and equipment, it would provide more protection. Finally, figure out what the hell was going on and the extent of how far it went on for…

End of Part 1

Join the adventure! You can become an active part of the story via WordPress or Twitter. All you need to do is create a character based wholly, partially, or not at all on yourself. You’ll be allowed to control you character’s actions at certain points and even develop relationships — or try your best to — with other characters. Your privacy is guaranteed should you wish to remain anonymous. To join this fun little writing experiment of mine, create your character, give them a name and pronounceable handle (if you cannot think of one, I will name them), and follow the instructions below for either WordPress or Twitter:

*. Twitter: Follow me (@nonzyro) on Twitter (https://twitter.com/nonzyro) and message (PM/DM) me your character’s specs or, if you waive your anonymity, comment them on my pinned tweet about this fun little experiment. https://twitter.com/nonzyro/status/1080831030104412160 Retweeting my pinned tweet is an optional courtesy.
*. WordPress: Follow this blog and comment your character’s specs on this, or any future instalments of The Z-Word.

Please specify whether you want to remain anonymous or not (except where already waived), otherwise anonymity is automatically waived. Please note that by submitting a character, you agree to the following conditions:
*. You waive all rights to any submitted character and any part of this work or any derivative works of this work.
*. I reserve the right to change character names.
*. I reserve the right to remove or add character attributes.
*. Characters will be selected through a random process and added at my discretion.
*. Should you wish to remove your character, it is up to me when and how to remove said character.


nonzyro and the Undramatic Return

I haven’t posted anything since 2016. A lot happened during my absence from the amateur blogging world. During that time, a lot has happened — both good and bad. I now find myself at a point where my entire existence seems to revolve around change: the changes I’m undergoing personally, professionally, and everything-else-lly. Ironically, I also find myself at point where I have just enough time to manage a blog again (albeit probably quite absently). And on the subject of this blog, I do plan quite an overhaul in the near future.

Chrome: Prevent the Gnome-Keyring Dialogue (Chrome and Chromium)

You have once again entered the Chrome world of survival horror… Good Luck…

It’s come to my attention that this is very poorly documented and many people are left wondering, “How do I get rid of that annoying dialogue when Chrome (or Chromium) starts?”

Do not despair, it’s actually quite simple. For the purpose of this exercise, I’ll refer to Chrome as Chromium, but they are essentially the same browser (the precise differences have to do with licencing and who exactly builds it). In a nutshell, you use the --password-store=basic argument. There’s a little more detail below.

If you’re using a launcher (that means an icon you click on), simply right-click it and select “edit” or the nearest equivalent. Now add the following to the end of the path --password-store=basic (yes, the space). Obviously if you’re launching it via the CLI, you’d type chromium --password-store=basic and problem solved.

You may want to make this change permanent, in which case (reasonably savvy users only) will edit the chromium execute script itself. Depending on your distro, it may be in an alternative location, but generally it is /usr/bin/chromium. This file is a plain old shell script so editing it is simple, and I’ll make it even simpler by saving you the hassle of finding what to edit. The variable you want is CHROMIUM_FLAGS and all you need to do is append --password-store=basic to it, after everything else in the script has modified the variable. So place the following line:
CHROMIUM_FLAGS="$CHROMIUM_FLAGS --password-store=basic"
above the last if-block, which reads so:
if [ $want_debug -eq 1 ] ; then
Protip: You can add any other arguments you wish to make permanent to CHROMIUM_FLAGS.
Notes: There’s always a danger with messing with a software’s launch script. Be careful what you add. Backing up the script is always recommended.
Whenever you update Chromium, it’ll overwrite your changes.
Don’t forget that you need to be root.

As usual, feel free to leave comments, ask questions, or post death threats using the comment button below. If you found this post useful, it’s good to share or like it, or even both.

Share the Love:

Easy Print:

A Day in the Life of a Transcriber — Part 01: Parts Shouldn’t Have Names

Being Part One of a serial of such posts. If you missed the introduction, it’s discussed here. The short version is I do transcriptions as my main income source and the only way I can vent my frustration is by having a laugh at some of the fail.

I never even knew nothing about it […]. Or I did, but I think it was like, pushed to the back of my head. Like, consciencesly [sic] I knew that […], but it wasn’t a thing that I took much notice about […]. I knew, but I didn’t know, if that makes sense, like.

Where do I start? Not at the beginning, that’s a little overused. We’ll start with a very interesting word — in the loosest sense of the word.

consciencely [sic]

I’m not too sure of the spelling, so I’ve typed it phonetically. I’m not too clear on the definition, but it would appear to imply a moral manner in which something occurs or is performed. Use cases may include performing surgery. One performs surgery consciencely when one does it carefully, considerately and not under the influence of substances. In this context, though, I think the word you’re looking for is “consciously” — to be aware in one’s conscious mind instead of only the subconscious. Now, note how we spell it. Yes, similarly, but without the N-sound. Minus twenty point for stupidity. Next:

I never even knew nothing about it

That roughly translates to, “I have never, not once, known nothing about it.” This can be further simplified to, “It’s always been been something I was knowledgeable about.” Minus fifty points because it’s such a well-documented, commonly-known mistake. I don’t not condone double-negatives if they’re used cleverly. Onwards:

Let’s look at the next part and the last part:

Or I did, but I think it was like, pushed to the back of my head.

I knew, but I didn’t know, if that makes sense, like.

Basically they both add up to exactly the same idiocy. We’re ignoring all other issues and just concentrating on the meanings. First off, you give the listener the choice of whether you know something because you used “Or”, which implies that they have the option of whether or not you knew. Since you’re the one doing the knowing, that’s something nobody else can decide. Secondly, you either do or don’t know something. You can’t know and not know something simultaneously, at least without entering the paradoxical land of Quantum Mechanics. Minus another fifty for stupid, but plus twenty for making me laugh. Seriously, that has to be in the top ten most idiot statements, yet I hear a surprising number of people spouting stuff like this. So, for the sake of anyone reading this who has ever said something along these lines, you either know something or you don’t (with the exception of quantitative contexts). Too confusing? Don’t worry, I’ve prepared a pocket-sized cheat-sheet below to illustrate exactly how it works:


You can print that (there’s a button below this post), cut it out and laminate it so you can carry it around as a reference card. That way, whenever you’re in doubt, just check the diagram to clarify.

That’s all for now, but here’s a preview of things to come: An internet avatar becomes aware she’s actually being controlled. Everything she says and does are the result of involuntary obsessive thoughts that manifest as ticks. The only time she can truly know her thoughts are her own is when the person controlling her sleeps. How will she break free? Who is controlling her? And what is the outside world that everyone call “reality” really about?

…Find all this and more in the next exciting episode of “A Day in The Life of a Transcriber”. Until then, comments, shares, likes, hates, death threats, and everything else welcomed.

Share the Love:

Easy Print:

A Day in the Life of a Transcriber — Part 00: Prologue

I wanted my next post to be something meaningful. A poem, a short story, or even the first chapter of a blog-based novel. Alas, my muse fails me, leaving me with this overwhelming urge to post what shall become quite serial.

Transcription is my main income source at the moment. It’s a terrible job, despite what you may hear or think. There is no fun in listening to people barely capable of articulating themselves over the background noise of a shopping mall, a bus station, an eatery, or a busy household. There is no fun in trying to filter out screaming children, blaring televisions, and the ambient hum of other people, especially in a recording made with a smart-phone. There is even less fun in the verbal discourse itself which ranges from topics such as dental hygiene to the endless incumbent ramblings of elderly interviewees about arthritis, ingrown toenails, and chest problems.

Transcription seldom, if ever, involves interesting subject matter. There are no psychiatry sessions with the future Jack the Ripper, nor interviews with scientists and creators breaking new grounds. Just the repetitiveness of barely-audible and unforgivably dull conversation.

There are two perks to the job though. Firstly, it doesn’t require leaving home, fighting the the rush hour traffic and dealing with colleagues and customers you want to strangle. Secondly, you get to laugh every now and then because this job truly highlights just how poor the average human being’s communication skills are. This is what these posts, “A Day in the Life of a Transcriber” will chronicle. They will generally be short posts, unlike this one, containing excerpts of dialogue (modified where needed to protect the identities of the parties involved and so as not to violate my NDAs). Since this post is already fairly lengthy, I’ve decided to end with just a simple sample of what to expect:

I never even knew nothing about it […]. Or I did, but I think it was like, pushed to the back of my head. Like, consciencesly [sic] I knew that […], but it wasn’t a thing that I took much notice about […]. I knew, but I didn’t know, if that makes sense, like.

You’ll be able to view my commentary on this excerpt along with many more wonderfail (I made that up, it’s a portmanteau of “wonderful” and “fail”) moments in my next post: A Day in the Life of a Transcriber – Part 01: Parts Shouldn’t Have Names”.

Likes, shares, and positive comments sure are wanted and welcomed, but I’ll accept negative feedback too, like how cruel I am for mocking at the poor downtrodden anonymous idiots out there whose insufferable accents, bad speech patterns and idiotic discourses I must endure to make ends meet while I’d rather be publishing games and books.

Share the Love:

Easy Print:

Epic Deconstruction

Deconstructed Chicken and Avo Salad: Succulent cubes of chicken breast, slices of perfectly ripe avocado, grated mozzarella, sprouts, and rocket. Served with a honey & mustard dressing.

It sound really nice, and although I know what a “deconstructed salad” is (after all, it’s pretty obvious), I thought I’d toy with my waitress a little, because I’m a bit of a bitch at times.

“Excuse me,” I said gently, looking up from the menu with large, innocent eyes, “What is a deconstructed salad exactly?”

“Well,” the waitress began, fumbling for a way to explain it without it sounding as if it was nothing more than a plate of unmixed salad ingredients.

I continued to look the picture of sweetness and innocence while I gazed expectantly at her. Hesitantly, she explained, “It’s basically, where we don’t mix the salad ourselves. We let the customer mix it how they like it.”

Well, I’ll give her points for managing to make it sound like a good thing when, on paper, it sounds like a lazy chef. “So, you mean you just bring me the ingredients and I have to make it?” I asked innocently.

“Yes,” she replied, maintaining her composure, though I could see resignation glinting in her eyes.

“So it’s not de- constructed, it’s un- constructed,” I contended. “You can’t deconstruct something that was never constructed to begin with.”

It was a weekend and the café was packed with families and their screaming children, gaggles of elderly women, and hipsters plugged into their i-devices. Perhaps my timing was a little cruel, but, in my defence, I was seated at one of my usual tables in the back, a much quieter and more private area that was cut off from the chaos in the front.

“Um…” She seemed tense. She was at a complete loss now and fully resigned to her fate, another difficult customer, as I watched the dread creeping into her eyes. It was obvious she wasn’t just new to the café, but new to waiting in general, so I decided I’d let her off the hook. It was a pity, because my trolling session could’ve yielded some very interesting fruit.

“Don’t you think that’s a little lazy?” I asked with obviously contrived outrage. “If I have to make it, then I think I deserve a discount for my labour!”

Her increasingly tense form relaxed and she began to smile. I started to laugh and she soon joined me. “Sorry,” I said, “I do this sort of thing to every new waitress I meet. Most of the staff here know I’m full of crap.”

As I always do when I torment a waitress, I left her a generous tip at the end of the meal. Feel free, as always, to share your thoughts, whether they be about how mean or funny you think I am.

Share the Love:

Easy Print:

Poem: Asylum

So, in the spirit of posting even a little meaningful content now and then on this blog, I’ll present you a poem I wrote quite a few years back. I’m not exactly sure how many, but I know it was before the end of 2011 and after the start of 2009. I was much younger and still thought of myself as dark and misunderstood by the world. I think this is echoed a little in the poem. And to pre-empt any questions: No it does not hold any special relevance to me or the people around me, it just happened inside me like most things I write. So, without any more procrastination, with not another word of discussion, absolutely no digression, and no further ado whatsoever, in any shape or form, neither explicit nor implicit, I present to you:

By J. McMaster

A man wakes in a bed, he’s surrounded by the sun
He looks all around him, but he’s the only one
No walls for shelter, no roof for shade
Not a trace amongst the rubble, of the house that he made
The neighbourhood’s in ruins, the garden’s scorched earth
There’s absolutely nothing left, with any kind of worth

Across the world it’s night-time, where a young girl walks the street
To the unchanging backdrop, of chainlink and concrete
Not a light in a window, or a soul behind a door
Everything’s a shadow, of what it was before

And outside of that world, a few feet down the hall
The men collect some medicine, to give to Jane and Paul
And once again the doctor, sits each patient down
“Why won’t you even acknowledge me?” he says with a frown.

And somewhere in the rubble, Paul swore he heard a call
But this time he ignores it, he’s heard it plenty times before
While Jane runs up and down the street, searching for the sound
Hoping to escape from this, world in which she’s bound
But soon she starts to tire, and then to forget
And then her mind starts going blank, as the medicine takes effect

For those who noticed the thematic inspirations from Silent Hill, a pat on the back. For those who did not, you just lost five-hundred points you didn’t know you had. But you have the chance to win them back — or double them, if you didn’t loose them — by simply sharing, liking, or posting me some feedback that doesn’t involve discounted eyebrow tattoos.

Share the Love:

Easy Print:

Short: Ame

Believe it or not, this blog was not started solely so that I could post satirical content and tips on how to make your PC and its software work. I also had every intention of publishing some more serious work. Since it’s my Nth post (if you count the first one, whose title even fails to do it justice), I’ve decided to dig up an old short I wrote back in about 2012. It’s titled “Ame” which means rain in Japanese. It’s about 1400 words, which is around four paperback pages:

by J. McMaster

Monday. It’s raining again. No, not again because it hasn’t stopped. It never stops now. I can’t remember a time when it didn’t rain, though I know that such a time existed once, the same way I know that the sky was blue – just don’t ask me what kind of blue because I don’t remember.
There’s a lot I don’t remember, actually, like how I came to be in this hotel, how I aged so quickly, why time feels like there are pieces of it missing, and who that person in the photograph is.
That photograph. It’s the only possession I have besides my clothes. I don’t know where it was taken and, although I know the person next to that man must be me, I can’t remember looking like her any more clearly than I remember a day it wasn’t raining.
That man in the photograph. Who is he? I don’t remember him and, unlike the sky on a sunny day, I don’t even know what he should be. Was he my husband? My boyfriend? Just a close friend? A casual acquaintance? A cousin? A brother? Something about his smile bothers me. There’s something false about it. His eyes seem unfocused, too. It’s almost as if he didn’t want to be there. Then again, I don’t look that enthusiastic, either. In some ways my smile is more fake than his. Did I not want to be there either?
The place in that photograph. Where is it? There aren’t any clues. It’s a generic backdrop that could be any middle-class home in almost any country. I can’t even see out the windows because there aren’t any. I suppose it’s because in photography it’s bad practice to take a picture facing a light source. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally the light should be behind the photographer and the subject should be facing it.
Why do I know about photography? I’m sure I never did any, neither professionally nor as a hobby.
“Good morning,” says a generic-looking member of the hotel’s staff as she enters my room. I didn’t order room service, I don’t think. She didn’t knock, either.
“Morning,” I absently mutter back. My mind is too preoccupied for pleasantries. I know something’s wrong, I can feel it.
She sets the tray down on my bed. Something is wrong. Definitely wrong. This isn’t food befitting even a low-end traveller’s lodge. This is like a prison meal.

Thursday. It’s raining again. I shouldn’t say again because it never stopped. The hotel staff are quite lively today and they even bothered to knock before coming in earlier. Maybe someone complained about the dreadful food and service yesterday. Wait, today’s Thursday so how can yesterday have been Monday? I guess it was Wednesday after all. I tend to lose track of time these days because everything always seems so similar. It doesn’t help that it always rains or that I live out of an hotel, either. Well, to be fair, I can’t control the weather and renting or buying a place would be a hassle at my age.
There’s a knock at the door. Should I ignore it? Probably. Room service has come and gone so it can’t be anyone I want to see.
The knock’s persistent.
“Fine, come in then,” I call in defeat as a well-dressed young man enters.
“How are we today, Ellen?” he asks, taking a seat without asking permission. Why is he addressing me by my first name when I’ve never met him before?
“Um…” I pause hesitantly. Something’s wrong. I know something’s wrong.
“Ellen, do you remember me?” he asks, not bothering to give me a chance to formulate a reply. I would think, given my reaction, it’s patently obvious I don’t remember him.
I wish this man would stop looking expectantly at me. I wish he’d let go of that fake smile. It’s as false as the smile I’m wearing in that photograph.
That photogr–
“Ellen?” the annoying man cuts in, prompting me for a reply.
I take a long breath and release it with intentional exasperation. “I should think it’s relatively obvious that I don’t know you, or, at the very least, I don’t remember you,” I reply.
The man is frowning now, yet still trying to smile. What an awkward expression; the upper and lower halves of his face at war. Finally, the frown prevails. Why is he taking it so personally? Nobody remembers everyone they meet.
“Ellen,” the man begins extremely gravely, “do you still have that photograph?”
Of course I have it, it’s the only thing I own. I nod a hesitant affirmation. I don’t like where this is going. Something’s wrong.
“Ellen, can you tell me who those two people in the photograph are?” he asks as if the coming of Armageddon hinges on my response.
“Well, the woman is obviously me,” I reply. Who is that man with me? I can never remember him which makes me question the sanity of carrying this photograph around for so long. Then again, it is my only real possession and that in itself makes it sentimental, no matter who’s in it. “I don’t remember the other person.”
“Ellen,” the young man says grimly, “that’s not you.”
Like he would know. He hadn’t even been born yet when this photo was taken.
“Ellen–” he begins but I raise my hand to interrupt him.
“Look here, young man, you weren’t even thought of back when this was taken, you couldn’t possibly know about it!” I spit with a condescending confidence, though even as the words escape me I feel uneasy. Something’s wrong. Something’s always been wrong now that I think about it.
The young man shows no signs of offence at my reply. Instead, he continues to frown while scrutinising me. What is he looking for? What does he want? Why can’t I kick him out? Even if he is the hotel manager or someone similar, this is my room.
“Ellen, that photo is one of thousands and the people in it are just models. They only use them to sell the frames. We’ve been over this before,” he sighs before handing me a folder with my name, age and a few other details printed on a sticker on the front cover.
I open the folder and begin reading it. It’s hard to make out the words amongst the scribblings as most of the papers inside are hand-written. Phrases like severely delusional, brain damage and amnesia pop out the sea of words and complicated medical terms along with names of drugs I can’t pronounce and their dosages. So much for morning vitamins. So much for hotels.
I look up from the mess of papers at the young man, my attending doctor. I don’t think he’s supposed to show me this file. It may cause him trouble. Still, he did it anyway. He respected what was left of a person inside me enough to let me in on the truth.
“Ellen,” he begins with a shorter, but more sorrowful sigh than before, “I’m truly sorry. Every time it rains, you seem to gain some lucidity. I really hoped maybe this time things would be better.”
He’s young. He hasn’t been jaded by the medical profession yet. I’m thankful for that because each time he does this, I get my life back — if only for a fleeting moment.
“Thank you again, doctor,” I smile.
“Do you remember anything new this time?”
For a moment I’m lost. I can already feel the fog forming around my mind again. It’s thick, heavy, and hard to resist, but there’s something out there, a light, one I’ve seen before, that cherished memory.
That photograph. I don’t know either of those people in it. They mean nothing to me. Yet, this is my most important possession because it’s all I have left of that frame, that beautiful silver frame he gave me. I took this photograph out and stuffed it into my pocket. I was going to put a picture of us into that frame, but I never got the chance. It was raining that day, too.
“I remember! It’s not about the photograph, it’s the frame!” I cry with excitement. “I was–”

Tuesday. It’s raining again. I shouldn’t say again because it never stopped. It never stops now, but, for some reason, today I feel as though it’ll clear up for a while.

Well, there you have it. Bear in mind it’s raw because I wrote it for a short fiction competition (the limit was 1500 words), but lost my nerve the last minute so it never got edited, let alone submitted. Still, all comments and constructive criticisms are welcome.

Share the Love:

Easy Print: