Seconds from Death: an excerpt from the memoir I’m writing

For the past two and a half years, I have written at least a little in my memoir every single day. Some days, I can only manage to write a sentence or two. On my better days, I write hundreds of words. It’s slow going because my story is a hard one to tell, even though it does have a happy ending. Getting through the horror parts to the happy part is what makes it so difficult.

The key to achieving anything worthwhile is persistence. By not missing a day of writing, I don’t lose the momentum — even if all I can write on a given day is my minimum ‘mini habit’ goal of 25 words. Every day I get at least a little closer to the end. Lord willing, I will live long enough to eventually finish writing the entire book. πŸ˜€

Today I wrote 381 words. Here is what I wrote today. All of the names in the following chapter have been changed. I call this chapter:

Seconds From Death

The bed that had been assigned to me was in a tiny room far down the hall from the nurse’s station. There was no door on the room. Only staff offices and solitary cells had doors.

When you entered this room through the open doorway, you saw three narrow metal beds: one against the wall on your left, one against the wall on your right, and the third bed was situated along the back wall, directly under a window. My bed was the window bed.

There was just enough space in the center of this room to walk between the first two beds, about two and a half feet of walking space. There were only a few inches between the ends of these beds and the short expanse of wall on either side of the doorway. Likewise, there were only a couple of inches between the top ends of the beds and my window bed.

I was lying on my back on the orange bedspread, feeling good about having been able to help little Gina find her missing purse. The other two beds were empty at the moment, as their occupants were somewhere out on the ward.

“You stole the pictures of my children! GIVE ME BACK MY PICTURES!”

I open my eyes and there is Carolina, standing in the narrow space between the two empty beds. Her balled up fists are on her wide hips. She is so large, she seems to fill up the room. Her red face is twisted in rage.

I quickly get up off my bed. Now we are standing face to face, with only a couple of feet between us.

“I don’t know what you mean. I don’t have your children’s pictures.”

“YOU’RE LYING!” It came out as a guttural scream. “The people down the hall told me they saw you come out of my room with the purse that has my children’s pictures in it!”

Before I can explain that I had simply helped Gina find her missing purse, having no idea that Carolina had stolen the purse to store her children’s pictures inside, this very obese, raging bull of a woman lunges toward me. She grabs my skinny neck with both of her hands and strangles me with all of her lunatic strength.


………. Whew. That’s all I could manage to write today. I came very close to dying at the age of fifteen, when this event happened more than fifty years ago. How I got away from her stranglehold … well, that’s a story for another day. And then there’s the peculiar story of how I met one of her sons at an impromptu card game, about a year after I was released from the institution at the age of sixteen.

I told the son that I had known his mother, when he told me her name. But I could not bring myself to tell him that his mother had tried to kill me. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes!

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Copyright 2021 by Linda Lee Adams @LadyQuixote