Now I lay me down to sleep – writing prompt *fiction*

via Maureen Sill on Flickr

via Maureen Sill on Flickr

Walking the dog was never so harrowing before. An unseasonably cold chill in the air that morning sent my hands directly into my coat pockets for warmth. Finding no comfortable gloves there meant my hands stayed put and my canine companion ran off-leash. His sharp Setter nose zoned in on a smell that led us into a landfill and on an adventure like no other we’d had or hope to experience again.

Max barked to signal he’d found his prize. It was one for which there was no requital. Only the dog’s olfactories had paid off, but the much-sought-after scent offered little reward. Except perhaps to friends of the person discovered there if he’d been missing. A middle-aged homeless man’s remains were amidst the rubbish. He met his final demise in a mound of debris, and his perfectly still body was unmistakably that of someone long-perished from this life. Maybe his family hadn’t known where he was and longed to see his face again, its features weathered and worn since the last time they’d visited each other.

An immediate call to the authorities didn’t erase the image from my mind or lift the weight off my heart. Their investigation revealed he was apparently crushed in a garbage truck before being dumped at the trash transfer station. No detail of the circumstances could possibly bring closure to the guy’s family.

I wonder where he was sleeping. It bothers me to imagine having nowhere else to go and to think of those unbearable conditions. The bitter, miserable cold that could cause someone to rest in a dumpster for warmth or other dire conditions that might have driven him there. Such desperation.

My hands don’t feel so cold after all.

Odd, how all of humankind’s refuse ends up in a landfill somewhere. A person isn’t trash, though. I can think of no one who deserves such a place as their burial plot.

Everything seems so disposable. Except people. We pollute the planet with both the items we discard and the beings we ignore. So much is discarded that it may build up enough one day to ultimately destroy this place, our home.

Earth is an interesting place. I’ll hate to leave it one day.

–for Steven, a man I didn’t know, who lived but 44 years on this planet–

*This post is fictional but based on a true story and was prompted by planet at Studio 30 Pluss30p

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14 Comments

Filed under creative non-fiction, life, writing

14 responses to “Now I lay me down to sleep – writing prompt *fiction*

  1. Joe

    Wow. Creepy and sad and poignant, all leading to a worldview. I like it!

    • Hey, I’ll take “creepy and sad and poignant” all day long. Three of my favorite things to write, and I can only hope I do it well. So glad you liked it!

    • I thought about it later, Joe, and realized I shouldn’t have made it sound as if I *like* writing sad stuff. It maybe just comes easier than doing happy.

      • Joe

        No no – I get it. It’s not so much liking the dark and/or sad, but sometimes, it’s not what you *want* to write as much as it is about what you *need* to write.

  2. Alexis

    “We pollute the planet with both the items we discard and the beings we ignore” is probably the most profound sentence I’ve read in decades. Well said, my friend, well said!

    • Wow – thanks! That means a lot coming from you, Alexis. And nothing I’ve ever written has been called “profound,” so I’m in shock. 😉

      Thank you for always reading my stuff. I appreciate it greatly.

  3. Beautifully written, Katy. As I had posted before, I see a brilliant future for you as a writer. As Alexis may have told you, I help serve the homeless, so this story–both yours and the news rather tugged at my heart and brought a few tears. i concur with Lex’s assessment of the profound statement.

    • Thanks, Sandra! You have no idea how much I appreciate such positive feedback from a great writer like yourself.
      It seems the local news is a constant reminder of our own good fortune, eh? To paraphrase Roger Ray, it’s one thing to talk about service and quite another to serve. We can all learn a lesson from his (and your) compassion.

  4. WOW! How sad, made me think about things for sure.

  5. When I had a dog, a big golden lab, we would walk all over the place. Mainly by the river, one day they did find a dead body in the spot where my dog would normally jump in for a swim. From that point on, the story you just told was my daily and constant fear.

    Nicely done Katy!

  6. Thanks, Marie! A version of the story, unfortunately, happened locally this week (sans dog). I can’t imagine making such a horrible discovery.

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