Health and Social Care Academy announce 2017 Creative Competition winner in the short story category.
This year was on the theme of ‘change’. We partnered with Scottish Recovery Network, Write To Recovery, Reach out with Arts in Mind and Mind Waves and asked entrants to tell us:
- What you think needs to change in Scotland to keep you living well?
- What you do to stay healthy and well?
- What one thing would you change where you live to keep you well?
Entrants shared their views by submitting to categories of poetry, short story, photography, film and arts and crafts.
The winner of the Creative Competition 2017 Short Story category is:
“Next stop Phi Phi Islan” the Thai tour guide shouts in broken English. The rickety boat speeds through the water with black diesel fumes spouting from the motor like an old jakey puffing out the smoke from his black lungs.
The boat slows to a stop before we see the beach. I look at my reflection in the water the hot sun beats down on my neck warming me. I’m happy and I remember why I’m here.
My mind tumbles back to that night in marshmallow towers. My almost empty, 13 floors up coffin. I was the pay master again that night . Paying for the white lines and green plastic bottles of apple flavoured acidic ,gut rot. I paid for the company of a cardboard friend , giving him my drugs and drink in exchange for a few hours of fast conversation and a break in the routine of loneliness, and talking to my monkey mind. Talking to my walls.
I take another fat stinging line up ma hooter and in my intoxicated haze I notice that the film “The Beach” is on the TV . Leonardo jumps off a cliff into the most beautiful peaceful place I have ever seen . White sands, turquoise water, green, green jungle and peace. Oh the peace. Paradise!
“I’m going there John!” I exclaim. “Don’t talk shite Dave, you’re schizophrenic and ye canny even get yer arse on a bus. Only place you’re going is fuckin Gartnavel Royal” John sneers at me. I shrink into myself and retort nothing because I know he’s right.
The drugs are gone and my cardboard companion leaves,….but his remarks don’t. The soft edges of Marshmallow towers become sharp and jaggy again as I sober up.
The voices start and then the disorganised thoughts and delusions . “I’m being watched, ….they are after me! I’m evil. I’m worthless.” …. CPN help! they’re coming to get me !…… And off I go …..McNair house here I come!!!…. Paranoia and fear.
John’s comments going through my head, cutting and slashing me.
Resentment turned to determination, I was going to get better.
I thought I was a million miles away from the Beach, but really I was only 12 steps away.
Coffee and a regal king size and its….
“keep coming back son” ” Don’t lift the first drink and you can’t get drunk” “if you stay sober you can have a life beyond you’re wildest dreams” “do lots of meetings” …..”God’s good Son!”
Determination turned to forgiveness, not just for others, but myself too . I righted wrongs and humbly asked others if I could make things right to them.
Compassion came too and lots of it, Compassion for others who suffer. Compassion for me.
As my addictions were removed my mental health improved. Prayer and medication.
So I trudged the road to happy destiny and five years later…… here I am , looking at my reflection in the turquoise water. “you okay? You excited? Kirsty asks . “Aye am great”. “It is beautiful here and looks much better than it did in the film” .
The boat bobs in the shallows and Kirsty and I jump into the cool water. I inhale deeply and feel the gratitude. We swim to the beach and I’m there. Peace. Paradise. Maybe we will get married, have two kids a house and a dog? Who knows. Stay in the present. Not in the future. Enjoy the beach. I can’t help it. My mind wanders again and I think…
I could still be in Marshmallow Towers talking to the walls, if it wasn’t for someone’s observation of the way my life was going…… thank you John and thank you ” The Beach”
“Aye God’s good Son!”