Chambered Nautilus

Chambered Nautilus (1956) by Andrew Wyeth. Photo by Mia Feigelson

Woodrow was showing visiting professors around the facility. They were eager to learn all they could, in the quest to increase production of  SaltyNectar®, the much sought after finite resource.

Pointing to the subject, Woodrow began to explain his findings:

EL-AINEDOB150816 is responding well to memory convergence. Synapses effectively returning to previous points of extension, resuming plasticity. Connections have been observed, with neurons firing in response to simulated seasons visible through the ‘window’.  Relics have also been left in the mock bedroom, including a basket full of sentimental assortments, such as printed images of people known to the subject, and the shell of a nautilus, held dear to her, according to her file notes, as a treasured memento from her childhood that it is likely to conjure memories- a conjuring nautilus.

Conjuring nautilushe repeated. Woodrow liked the sound of these words. He was one of the rare re-births who had the ability to program himself to register small pleasures, in this case resulting in a curious upturn of his lips and crinkles at the corners of his eyes.

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Peak Energy

photo of runners on a multi lane road running in the same direction - prompt for a flash fiction story on peak energy
Photo by Martins Zemlickis

In the handful of years leading up to the milestone scientists had long warned of, the government introduced restrictions, with office buildings and monuments that once shone brightly through the night being the first to face the cut; a quick win with a drop in power consumption and anecdotal evidence suggesting an increase in wishful thinking, with more stars visible in the night sky than most people had witnessed in their lifetimes.

There was no turning back once the planet reached peak energy; the next level of restrictions were imposed, banning non-essentials such as electric coffee grinders, microwaves, televisions, tumble dryers, dishwashers, and mechanised gym equipment.

In mobile solidarity, gym junkies took over streets that cars once ruled, the nostalgic among them still plugged in, arms adorned with gadgets they no longer needed to tell them their hearts were beating.


Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week Twenty One. This became a light take on a very real issue we are facing (peak oil/gas/energy). Depending on what you read, it is either not real; we’re already there; or, we’ll arrive in under 5 years.

Further reading, if you are interested in the topic is the Circulate article The Implications of Peak Energy that explains the issues in accessible terms, with inclusion of graphs that convey the message in a powerful way.

The Accident

They told her she had been admitted 2 months ago, at the start of summer. She wouldn’t have otherwise known, and the climate controlled 21 degrees they maintained in the room, which she found to be too cold, didn’t give away the season that beckoned through the window across from her bed. The nurses recommended that she flip through the pages of the album, intended to trigger her memory. Prodding the cold scrambled egg that lay curdled on the plastic plate that she balanced on her lap, Mel looked at the photos. They did trigger her memory. In fact, they had done so days earlier, but she hadn’t let on. She looked on at the little girl she once was, sitting amongst a class of twenty or so other students, their toothy smiles and eagerness to say “cheese” as the photographer captured their first year at school. There was one with her favourite green corduroy trousers and the purple my little pony t-shirt she wore till the image had long faded, the photo simply showing the lettering. She didn’t smile in that photo nor a lot of the photos in the years that were to follow. Flipping to the back of the album, she pulled out the newspaper clippings, all telling of the day of the accident, which she still didn’t remember. She couldn’t connect what was reported with being her experience. Apparently she’d been crossing the road just outside of Central Station. It was a zebra crossing, so it was her right of way. It was early on a Sunday morning and the car had come careening around the corner, knocked her over and sped on, the driver leaving her for dead. A call had been made for anyone with information to come forward, but no one had, despite the money on offer as reward. Her memory – of everything but the accident, had brought with it the anxieties of her past. For the four days of no memory since coming out of the coma, she’d felt at peace. There was no past, there was no concept of desires she held for the future. She was just absorbed with piecing together who she was. Visitors came and went and had to announce their role in her life – mother, father, sister, neighbour, and colleagues. They left flowers and fruit and lingered longer than she’d have liked, with smiles plastered on their faces, as though the wider they smiled, the more recognisable they’d become. She enjoyed when visiting hours were over. It was then, on the fourth day, once she was alone again, that she peeled the skin of a mandarin left for her on the bedside table. Its sweet scent, and the gentle spritz of its juice landing on her face as she peeled it conjoured an image of a house, with its white washed walls and children playing in the garden, a summer time long ago. She remembered the day, it was hot, her and her friends ran under the sprinkler while marveling at the rainbow they could see through the spray. A voice could be heard calling them in for lunch. It was the woman who’d visited earlier – her mother. She remembered! It was exciting, she wanted to tell someone, anyone, but it was nurse change over time and they had been slow to respond to the call of her buzzer. In the time between the beginnings of her memory returning and the arrival of a nurse, she felt a daunting sense of not wanting to return to the life she’d forgotten. It would be easier, she reasoned, to forget. To forget the remains of what had happened that summer and the years since. It was the chance for a clean slate. When the nurse arrived, asking what the matter was, she’d replied “Oh, nothing, I pressed the buzzer by accident.”


Perhaps subconsciously, this has turned into a combination of the last two Daily Post writing challenges.  Initially, I had intended to use 5 nouns as my prompt (money, egg, station, summer, zebra), as per the Ray Bradbury Noun List Twist, but having seen this week’s challenge, somehow the theme of ‘memory’ wove its way into today’s story, although not in memoir form, and not my own memory but that of my main character’s. Nouns were from this random noun generator.