Trifecta 102 – Fight The Good Fight


“…Righto mum, we’re just off now, let’s hope for some good news. He needs it, we both do. Ok, you too, yep, love you, I’ll catch you later…bye, bye…”.

She doesn’t think I can hear her through there, but I can. The walls in this shoebox of an apartment are paper thin. I may be coming many things these days, but deaf isn’t one of them – not yet anyway. Perhaps that will be today’s news. Christ, I would laugh, if I could. Would I really? Maybe not. No, I wouldn’t.

I can see him out there again today. He’s another one who thinks he can take advantage of my apparently irreversible decline. Scurrying across the frost tinted lawn without a fear or a care. The little grey interloper shows the same cunning and craft I once did: when I was able to walk, talk. Be normal.

“Ready honey? I’ll be there in a moment,” she shouts through from the bedroom.

Yesterday I may have been able to muster enough movement for an answer. Not today. Today looks like it’s the first day of the next phase. I knew it was coming. You want to hear what I’m thinking you’ll need to get in here with me. Haven’t the heart to tell her, even if I wanted to.

Out there he sprints back and forth. Gathering, hiding, protecting. He is looking after his own. When I was playing football for the biggest team in the land I did the same. I had everything. Often wonder if I hadn’t been who I was would she have chosen me, stuck with me now? I’d be lost without her.

He’s now on the window ledge. Staring in.

“You ok,” he’s saying.

“Me? Not really,” I stare back.

“Come on honey, let’s get your coat on. We can’t keep the Doctors waiting.”

As we leave the apartment I look back: the squirrel is gone. I hope he’s there tomorrow. In him I’m free for a few moments at least.


These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘craft , form my entry into the Trifecta 102 writing challenge.


This piece is dedicated to Fernando Ricksen, the former Rangers and Netherlands footballer, who recently disclosed, on live television, that he is suffering from ALS. The outlook for this condition is absolutely frightening. These 333 words are meaningless but as he was in my mind I felt I had to write something. Good luck Fernando. All of us here in Scotland are thinking of you.

18 thoughts on “Trifecta 102 – Fight The Good Fight

  1. jannatwrites

    Emotional story. His focus on the squirrel was interesting…it’s funny how we find ways to distract our minds. (I had a co-worker whose husband had ALS..the decline was swift and frightening.)

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Yeh, for a while I’ve had this thing about connecting with nature when stressed/under pressure. I’ve carried that into some stories with people held hostage tuning into the sounds of birds, rivers etc. In some ways it helps them, in others it makes their position seem even more unbearable. Thanks for reading

  2. atrm61

    We all have a storehouse of inner strength-some more than others and I really loved how sensitively you showed that in this piece!Loved it Paul:-)

  3. Jo-Anne Teal (@jtvancouver)

    Paul, you’ve written of so much in such a compact piece. Really moving how someone’s world can concentrate down through such overwhelming physical limitations, yet their mind takes in the world with new openness.

    Really well done, sir. As Atreyee says about, there is such sensitivity in this story.

  4. CherryPickens

    Gray blur, forest clown, taking him for a scamper. A beautifully done tribute. I hope Fernando gets the chance to read and enjoy as much as I have.


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