Welcome to the first Always Write edition of Book Chat. If you have a short story you’d like published on Always Write for our next book chat, contact me below or by email.
What started out to be a spooky short Halloween story by Hugh Roberts turned out to be something real and sinister.
Nine-Word Summary of People Under the Stairs
People under the stairs tormented Gloria, suffering from dementia.
Progression from Scary Story to Menacingly Real
Hugh thought that his readers might focus on fear of the ghoulish people under the stairs like children worry about the Nightmare in the Closet. He and many of his readers toyed with the fear of imaginary people in the comment section.
“I hope Gloria’s story doesn’t give readers too many nightmares. It may be worth not looking in the cupboard under the stairs for a few days.”Hugh
“…Are they real? Or are they figments of her dementia?”Roberta
“…Gloria’s dementia fueling her ghosts under the stairs, especially since she sees herself. Just vague enough though to make you wonder, though! Reminds me a little of the movie The Others(?) with Nicole Kidman, thinking she and her kids were haunted by ghosts, when in reality they were the ghosts!”Terri
Some readers inferred facts.
“Apparently she carries a love hate relationship with the people under the stairs. I see them as her alter ego, her bad side maybe even having murdered her husband some years ago. …No, I think she’s living with the guilt.”Mr. Ohh
While readers played along with the idea of the people under the stairs being scary, they always turned back to ponder Gloria’s dementia.
“Luckily, we don’t have stairs in our camper van! …I cannot imagine Gloria having dementia for thirty years, so she must have an incredible imagination.”Liesbet
The Dreaded Disease – Dementia
Diana drew the discussion to a conclusion and moved it from being scary to being one of society’s most unnerving health issues.
“Eek. A scary story, Hugh. The element of dementia complicates the reality. … The unreliable narrator was a great addition to the story.”Diana
For me, the phrase, “unreliable narrator” unlocked all the mysteries and discrepancies that troubled me about the story. Hugh responded with incredible transparency.
“My mother had dementia, and some of the elements of this story were what I picked up from her. I often thought that she seemed to be living in a book, yet other times I wasn’t quite sure what she was saying was true or just what the dementia was showing her.
My mother died at the age of 78. We first noticed the signs of dementia when she was in her early 70s, so she went through the different stages of the condition at a slow rate, Marsha. It was heartbreaking watching what I can only describe as something else taking over her body. The worst part for me was when she could not remember who I was.
Dreams fascinate me, especially when they include strangers. I’ve often wondered if they are figures of my imagination or are people who are real and who I may have had a fleeting encounter with.”Hugh Roberts
After reading Hugh’s comment, there wasn’t much left to say. The story of a demented narrator trying to share her dream world with those on the outside made perfect sense.
Thank you so much, Hugh, for sharing, not only the story, but the amazing discussion in the comment section.
Understanding and Preventing/Decreasing Dementia
- The People Under the Stairs by Hugh Roberts – the original short story
- Book Review Still Alice
- Six Benefits of Taking Planned Vacations
- Daily Crossword Puzzles
- How to Recognize a Scammer Even people who do not have dementia suffer from scammers. Learn how to protect yourself.
Book Chat 2
I am looking for more brave souls to send me their short unpublished stories to publish on my blog Always Write supporting hobby bloggers. Following the publication of your story and the discussion, I will do a follow-up summary of the comments – typical teacher -style. Hugh suggested that I include a pingback to your blog as well, which sounded like a great idea to me.
Stories should be no more than 750 -1,000 words. Please include a brief biography, a picture or headshot, and contact information. If you want to include a picture or photo with your story, please feel free to do that.
You are free to publish your story elsewhere after it appears here.
As always, thanks for visiting and commenting.
Marsha Ingrao- Always Write