‘Reality (Dementia Imagined) by Barrie Purnell

I need you to tell me the reason why
Things no longer appear the same,
Who has robbed me of reality?
I need to find someone to blame.

How do I know whose truth is true
Or if your truth is better than mine?
How do I know how far I have to go
Or if I’ll be able to get there in time?

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CONFUSED by Cynthia Smith

Cynthia was inspired to this by our ‘confuse    confused   confusion’ trigger.
CONFUSED    by Cynthia Smith
Marjorie was standing in the middle of … a room. She had that frightening feeling again – not being able to remember where she was or why she was there. She looked around. There were a table and chairs, a sofa, and a flowering plant on the window sill. “I wonder who lives here and where they are”, pondered Marjorie.
Just then she was startled by an unexpected sound. Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Turning, Marjorie saw that the noisy bird had come out of a little wooden house, which looked just like the one … Marjorie laughed out loud, realising that it was her cuckoo clock and this was her living room. Relieved, she sat down on the sofa.
She thought perhaps this had been going on for a while: not recognising things and forgetting where she was. Well, whenever Mam and Dad had had a problem, their first solution was … was to make a brew. Through a half-open door Marjorie could see some cupboards and a sink. Of course, that was the kitchen! She shuffled over to it and through the door. On the side were some green canisters and in front of them a flowery cup and saucer sat, as though waiting to be filled.
Again, the strange feeling came, a fuzziness in her head. What should she do now, she wondered in panic. She looked around. Ah, there it was, the …the … Marjorie picked it up, shuffled to the sink and carefully filled it with water. Pleased with herself, she took it back and, after a little fumbling, got it to sit on its stand. Now what? She remembered that the kettle – that was it, kettle! – would make a noise like a toy train and then the water would be hot. But how did she make it do that? Marjorie wished the nice young woman who visited her would come soon and sort this out.
Deflated, she shuffled back into the living room and sat on the sofa again. Her mind drifted off; to other living rooms; to people whose names she could not quite recall; to crying babies and laughing small children; a fluffy grey cat sitting on her lap …
Marjorie started violently. The doorbell was ringing and she struggled up from the deep cushion to answer it. For a moment she hesitated to open the door, but then a kindly voice said: “Hello Mam, it’s only me.” Marjorie was delighted to see the young woman again: it seemed so long since she had seen her. She smiled as her visitor gently showed her how to switch on the kettle. Having made the tea, she then produced some cake from her bag and cut a large wedge for each of them, warning Marjorie how careful she must be when using a sharp knife. Marjorie did not really take that in; she was just delighted to have some company.
They sat on the sofa, enjoying the chocolate cake and sipping hot sweet tea. Marjorie decided that the young woman must be from the … from the … the Council. People had come from the Council before, but none as nice as this one. But Marjorie did wish she wouldn’t call her ‘Mam’ – it made her sound like the Queen! “Do call me Marjorie”, she admonished gently. “Oh Mam, I can’t do that”, she laughed, giving Marjorie a little hug.
There it was again: the feeling that a thought, a name, a memory was just over the edge of her mind … She tried to pull it back. But it was gone.
She asked the young woman, who said her name was ‘Beth, short for Bethany’ (what a pretty name), if she would put the television on for her, so she could watch it after she had left. Beth showed her how to do it, how to mute the sound and put it back on, but Marjorie just smiled, knowing she would not remember.
They chatted for a while and Marjorie wished that she could have this pleasant company every day. Suddenly, the noisy bird burst out again, with five ‘Cuckoos’ this time. Marjorie did not realise that that meant it was five o’clock, but she noticed through the window that it was getting dark.
“Oh, Ron will be home soon! I must get his tea ready. I’m sorry, but I think it’s time for you to go dear. Thank you for coming.”
Beth passed a hand across her eyes to hide the tears that were welling up. It hurt so much that her mother did not recognise her. There was no point in telling her again that Dad had died two years ago – she would have forgotten before she saw her out the door. Far better to let her think Dad was still here. So she smiled and pressed her mother’s hand, promising to call as usual the next day. Marjorie bustled her out, because it was late, and because … What?
She sat down on the sofa again and looked at the television set. The young woman had turned the sound off while they were talking. Marjorie pressed a button to turn it back on, but it must have been the wrong one as the picture disappeared.
Oh well, if she couldn’t see pictures in the box in the corner, she could look at the pictures in her head … Some children were playing games on the sea shore … a little black dog raced after the ball … A family sat round a table, eating, drinking and laughing. Wasn’t that Uncle …Uncle …? Paper chains …a tree indoors, covered in lights … There was that pretty baby again … Why didn’t her mother come to stop her crying? …