Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mapless (Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge)

We travel here, there, relying on maps and GPS to bring us home again; but most of our travel is still done around a home base in a circle no larger than 25 miles in circumference. We're usually treading familiar paths: much of the time, we pull up at the same stoplights, park at the same shops, drive through the same neighborhoods.

We wonder at previous generations who lived and died within 50 miles of the place they were born, and forget that some percentage of them settled whole new continents, fought wars in distant lands. explored jungles, surveyed entire mountain ranges that were previously unknown (except to settlers who had found them on the way to somewhere else.)

We walk our dogs past the same neighbors we had last yearlast decade—and ride our bikes on the same trails our children rode when they still lived at home. Like the pigeon or the migrant duck, we find our way back to the nest, but not because we have a homing instinct. It's just familiar, this way home. We've been there before so many times we need no map.

Even when we tread unfamiliar ground, with today's technology it's hard to be off the map. So I found this week's Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction prompt particularly challenging:

September 9, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone or something that’s lost. It can be lost in a setting (storm, darkness, ocean) or it can be a feeling. Is there a recovery? What are the consequences of remaining lost? What are the opportunities?

One of the symptoms of Alzheimers is being lost in a familiar place. Onset can be gradual, or it can happen all at once. When it does, we have no instinct to guide us. How terrifying to be completely lost, to be suddenly mapless!



Gwen placed her handbag on the seat and backed from her driveway, looking left where the only traffic would be, here at the end of the cul-de-sac. She had left herself precisely enough time to drive to her weekly Ladies League luncheon. Many of the ladies no longer drove, but Gwen loved still having her license.

A honk behind her shook her reverie as Gwen pulled into the space in front of the restaurant. Suddenly terrified, she stared out the car window. Why was she here? Where was she? 

She pawed through her purse seeking clues, or a map.