Welcome to Trauma Fiction Tuesdays.
I’ve selected several real-life trauma prompts – from my own life or those around me – and have written fiction for each.
This Week’s Prompt:
Prosopagnosia – Faceless
The following story discusses prosopagnosia.
It started with faces I didn’t know…
Slowly becoming more and more distorted until I could no longer see their faces at all. Even when up close, they look blurred.
It moved onto my friends after a few weeks, making it harder to recognise them – whether they were in a crowded corridor or an empty room.
Then my family – faceless within months.
Some faces stuck around – my nephew, my best friend, and my boyfriend – just those three.
Now, after years of being unable to see them, I finally recognise people in a crowd again – by their speech, mannerisms, and overall appearance.
But it doesn’t always work out…
Halloween was my favourite holiday growing up, not for the candy but for the scary content and costumes. Being able to dress up to scare people was always fun. Now, it’s a nightmare.
Leaving the bar, I stumble a little as I walk past the bouncer. “You alright, Elsie?” He says as he grabs me as I almost fall.
I giggle up at the tall, faceless man. “I’m fine!” I stand upright, take a few deep breaths, and continue on my way. “Goodnight, Mo!”
“Goodnight,” he chuckles.
I round the corner, heading onto main street. The last bus home is five minutes away, and I must make it to the specific bus stop. Just one foot after the other.
It’s hard not to notice that the city streets are filled with zombies, but it’s Halloween night, and the scare run has ended.
I move among the horde of people – all walking in the opposite direction to me. “Elsie…” I hear someone groan.
I frown, looking around to see if I recognise anyone.
I blink as I try to focus my eyes. Picking someone out of the crowd can be challenging – especially when they’re all wearing similar outfits.
After a minute, I decide to continue on my way. Nobody approached me; maybe I’m so drunk I heard my name…
Arriving at the bus stop, I see the bus is running late. Six extra minutes to wait… Brilliant.
“Elsie…” A voice groans again.
I turn toward the dispersing crowd and see a tall figure standing a few feet away from me. I look him over, trying to spot signs of familiarity in the way he stands or in the clothes he’s wearing. But nothing.
We stand there for a minute, just looking at each other. The best way for me to tell who someone is is by their voice… Which doesn’t work when they’re trying to scare you.
“Elsie?” He says again, back to his normal tone.
I sigh, relief washing over me and sobering me a little as my pounding heart slows down. Alex. “Hey…”
He takes a couple of steps, his long strides bringing him close to me. “You didn’t recognise me at all…” He mumbles as if disappointed.
I take a deep breath. I’ve not told him about my condition; even my parents don’t know… “I didn’t recognise you under all the fake blood and makeup,” I giggle. “Plus, I’ve just left the Halloween party so I’m a smidge drunk.”
He tilts his head to the side as if confused by the situation. “You can’t recognise your boyfriend because of makeup?”
My hands fly up to cover my mouth, eyes wide, and a sudden sense of sobriety rushes over me. This isn’t Alex. “Rue…” I mumble from behind my hands.
“Wait…” He pauses, standing less than a foot away from me. “You still didn’t know it was me? How drunk are you?”
“It’s not that,” I whisper as tears well up.
“Then what is it?” He exclaims. “You didn’t recognise me… We’ve been together three years, Elsie.”
I cringe at his words, his voice sounding rougher than usual – most likely due to several hours of pretending to be a zombie. “I’m sorry…”
“Our friends said you sometimes look at them as if they’re strangers, I never thought you’d do it to me…”
I inhale deeply, feeling my bottom lip tremble as I look up at him – his face blurred and covered in red. “Me, neither.”
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