Friday Fictioneers–Recovery Operation

Posted: April 16, 2014 in Friday Fictioneers, Personal
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My weekly hundred words.

Copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

Copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy



Recovery Operation

The multiple rolls down the mountainside were over instantly.

The rest, an endless dream. Somehow escaping the smashed car. Crawling up what seemed a cliff. In shock, shivering, as we waited for a passing car in the night. The doctor saying there were no mirrors. My friends looking quickly away. The drive to the city. Plastic surgery. The metal holding my re-shaped nose taped below raccoon eyes.

In the airport, my alien head subjected to averted gazes, I vowed to never look askance at the deformed, the challenged, the different. Theirs was forever. I would heal.

My friend, the driver…uninjured.


  1. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Janet,

    Walk a mile in my shoes…..

    Very well illustrated.



    • Thanks, Doug. It was a long mile, I can tell you, but I still try. Loved the photo, even though I didn’t get an enjoyable story from it. Looks like you guys were having a blast.


  2. misskzebra says:

    Is that a hint of bitterness at the end I taste?

  3. An awful lot happens here in 100 words. Well written

  4. I love the humility that was gained from the experience. Others might have become bitter.

    • Gina, you make a good point, that so many situations have the possibility of going in one of two (or maybe more) directions. It’s up to us what we do with them. In this instance, I was thankful not to have been killed. The insurance adjustor said anyone in the back seat (of a VW Beetle) would have been killed. I’m thankful for large blessings!


  5. A gentle way to remember a VERY bad experience. Nice job, Janet.

    • Thanks, Alicia. It was a very bad experience but thankfully the only bad reminder is my nose. I think when you’re in shock, everything is quite dreamlike and I really had no pain, which would have changed the gentle memories, I imagine.


  6. Sandra says:

    I love an oblique take on the prompt, and this is certainly that. Very well done, full marks for originality and taking the reader right into the nightmare.

  7. high five and raspberries says:

    A life can change ( or change you ) in an instant. You have been given the gift of a second chance and we are grateful.

  8. Things like that do make you think about what it must be like to live with looking very different permanently. A very well put together story Janet, that did get me thinking.

    • Claire, I sat in the airport thinking how terrible and hurtful it must be to have people look at you like that (or avoid looking at you like that), every day of your life and I was utterly grateful that I would one day be able to take that metal piece off and that the black eyes would fade and I’d look like me again. Probably the little light bulb above my head not only went on but burned out. 🙂


  9. Crisply written, really tight writing there. I liked it very much as that was my trade, though latterly as safety officer. The norm would be a paramedic on the scene, who usually can patch up enough for the helicopter and hospital, but your tale is taut and rings real. The luck of the draw with the driver in this case. Must getan email to you about summer, haibun and paperback . more rewrites..
    Well done on this one – message brought home!

    • One problem here, Hamish, was that this was before cell phone, so there was no way to contact anyone. I’m thankful the car stopped for us as I must have looked quite awful, along with so much else for which to be thankful. We haven’t made our final summer plans, i.e. dates, yet but mid-July is a good guess. Have to check le Tour date for the nearest village. We’ll talk soon.


  10. That’s an interesting image for that kind of headwear . It would never have occurred to me

    • Larry, it reminded me of a deformed head (I saw it first on my phone, so it was very small.) And that made me remember feeling that way and from there, the story. I have to say I often think the same thing about other stories I read–where did that idea come from? It’s one of the interesting things about FF.


  11. Amy Reese says:

    What an original take on the prompt, Jackie. The idea of the alien head can present so many things. In this sense, maybe a little bitterness at the end. Well done.

    • Irony, not bitterness, Amy (at least in the real story, from my side.) Bitterness wouldn’t be unreasonable, but it wasn’t meant that way. The alien head made me think of feeling like I had an alien head; hence, the story.


  12. You took me right into your experience. I could feel what it was like to go through the accident and it’s aftermath. Well done!

  13. Quite a story … and a lesson too. Actually, maybe a couple of them. Very sensitively written, as always. Thanks, Janet!

  14. Horus says:

    It’s amazing such seemingly unconnected things and images makes our head connect it to our past.. am glad you are still here to share your story… and thanks for sharing Janet !

  15. draliman says:

    A valuable lesson learned there. At least everyone was ok, after healing.

  16. K.Z. says:

    wonderful story. i think it’s beautiful how the incident made her see other people differently and that something positive came out of it.

  17. Dear Janet,

    Quite a story, intensified by the fact that it’s a true. I echo the comments of others and say, crisp and well written. Need I say that I love the way you used the prompt? 😉



  18. Excellent story on the remembrance of your terrible accident. How lovely that it gave you an understanding of the sufferings of others. How wonderful that someone was willing to stop for you and take you to medical help. Well written.

    • Patricia, if these people hadn’t stopped, I’m not sure how long it would have been. There weren’t lots of people out at that time of night/early morning.


  19. brainsnorts says:

    i have a very significant friend who suffered something similar. luckily for her, she was so small at 16 that she was thrown beneath the dashboard and suffered less than others. “less” includes unconscious for a few days and a month to regain speech, which is why she became a speech therapist. well done.

    • “Less” is a relative term, but can make all the difference, can’t it? Good for her for using her experience to do something worthwhile and, I’m sure, satisfying.


  20. faithsfire says:

    You captured it perfectly! Having experience facial reconstruction after a car accident, I can say that you captured the emotions very very well. Thank you, Love it! Happy Easter!

    • My pleasure! I’m glad it worked out for you as well as for me. My crooked nose isn’t really too crooked, for which I’m truly thankful, as well as for being alive!

      A blessed Easter to you as well!


      • faithsfire says:

        Amen to being alive! I have a plastic eye socket, plastic nose, steel & plastic roof of mouth, and a steel jaw. You can barely see the scars anymore unless I go out without sunblock. But, I still have problems with mirrors. There were no pictures of me, so my “mom” gave them hers. I don’t look like me anymore at all.

      • Isn’t incredible what can be done now? I’m thankful you’re alive but I’m sure that it’s difficult not looking like you anymore. That’s what I felt like at the time of this story, but mine was so minor compared to yours! (Hope no one ever punches you in the jaw!!)

  21. Liz Young says:

    Oh dear – that sounds like a real experience, albeit an horrific one. Well written.

  22. yarnspinnerr says:

    Reminds me of when I broke my leg …….. I could perceive so much disability around me. Wonderful perspective. 🙂

  23. Shandra says:

    Powerful story and comments. Thank you for sharing.

  24. plaridel says:

    thank goodness, you survived to write this story.

  25. Judah First says:

    Some very profound word pictures in there. Nice work!

  26. Really powerful storytelling, Janet and even more so, having read some of the comments. What an ordeal you went through!

    I found the first sentence a bit off. I kept re-reading it and it just doesn’t have the impact it should. “The multiple rolls down the mountainside…” I’m wondering if “Rolling down the mountainside– it was over in an instant” might not be stronger. It’s one more word, but your count can probably be adjusted elsewhere. Elsewhere in the story, I like the fragmented sentences that convey a sense of shock and broken memories.

    What an experience! Thank goodness you did as well as you did, considering…

    • Dawn, thanks for taking the time to think through and comment. I’ll take a look at that sentence again if I have a minute (not trying to put you off, but I’m getting ready for Easter weekend.)

      The rolling and bouncing down the mountainside was over in an instant.

      Would that have more impact to you? I’d have to put in more words elsewhere, but just trying to get a feel for what you’re looking for.



      • Yes, I think that or something similar to my suggestion, better convey (I think) the sense of rolling and a sudden stop. As it is now, I find it confusing and thus, it loses some of it’s impact (so to speak). As a reader, I find myself skimming over that first sentence and focusing on the rest… because I need to keep figuring out exactly what you mean, even though I get it intellectually. The reading of it doesn’t convey, for me, what I know (from comments, etc) what you are trying to say. Happy Easter!

  27. rgayer55 says:

    Wow, it’s not often we get a true story, and especially one that’s so personal and real.
    I’m blown away.

  28. I didn’t realise it was a real story until I started reading the comments. That must have been scary. But all’s well that ends well and a life lesson learnt. You packed a lot into the 100 words.

  29. Sounds like it was a harrowing experience, and from the comments I’ve browsed, it was based on reality. Glad you survived to tell the tale!

  30. Nan Falkner says:

    Janet, a horrible memory and thank God you were fixable. I have lost 2 nephews and 1 cousin from drunk drivers and my son and I have been in a car hit by a drunk drivers. We were lucky, But, you are right. People don’t know what to think so it’s so unpleasant to go out in public. I’m so glad you are here – I think the driver of your car will probably always feel guilty for the accident – right or wrong- how could you not feel some guilt walking away unscathed? Nan 🙂

    • Nan, I’m quite relieved to be here and in mostly one piece as well! 🙂 I haven’t thought about it for ages, but that photo just brought it to mind and all is grist for the writing mill. 🙂


  31. tedstrutz says:

    The doctor saying there were no mirrors… that was a jolt!

  32. DCTdesigns says:

    Janet- Sometimes it is the extremes that make us understand another better. I watched friends roll their jeep off a cliff face. They amazingly walked away bumped and bruised but not broken when two kids the weekend before gave their lives on the same hillside. Glad you came out to tell us about the ordeal. Dana

    • I’m glad to be here to tell about it, Dana. 🙂 You really never know, do you? I’ve been showered with blessings in my life and that was one of the largest.


  33. atrm61 says:

    Thank you for sharing this slice of real life with us Janet.Am happy that you came out of that terrible accident with your life.I am awed by your sensitivity towards others who are less fortunate and who have to live their lives having to bear the odd kooks,the averted gaze and the rest-what a lesson you took away from your accident.Great use of the prompt and I loved the phrase,”raccoon eyes.” 😀

  34. Wow, the emotion behind this story is so raw and powerful. I first believed it was another piece of your fiction, as they are always vivid and engaging as well. I’m glad I read the comments below to find that this was, in fact, a tragically true story. My heart goes out to you, and I’m glad that you made it from the accident with your life. Though, I’m sure the trauma still pricks your memories to this day. It was also interesting, and very believable, how your perspective changed about physical abnormalities. I enjoyed rereading this several times. Your work always leaves me breathless.

  35. hugmamma says:

    How do you ever get in a car again, let alone get behind the wheel? Obviously you recovered physically; mentally and emotionally…probably never. And yet, I would never have known. You’re so upbeat…God bless…and hugs…

    • Oddly maybe, driving wasn’t ever an issue. But it took many months before I could relax in the passenger’s seat when someone took a curve at a good clip, even if they were good drivers and in control. I think it was remembering waking to the sensation of leaving the road. Other than that, I honestly haven’t had more ongoing issues than sometimes wishing my nose were straight again. 🙂


  36. What an awesome story. And apparently, a bit of truth here. Absolutely loved it.

  37. Alice Audrey says:

    Wow. That doesn’t even read like fiction at all. Too real.

  38. Some interesting thoughts here. So difficult not to stare sometimes. And the driver unharmed/unmarked. Nice one.

  39. That must have been a terrible experience. I’m really glad you healed, it must have taken you an awful lot of courage and faith to pull through 🙂

    • It certainly wasn’t the best time of my life! The whole time went quite quickly and smoothly due, I imagine, to shock initially and then drugs. 🙂 it could have been so much worse.