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  • Writer's pictureShelly Desjarlais

"The Symphony" - A Story in Dialogue

“I’m not known for having great ideas. Seriously, you’re looking at the guy who inspired the warning labels on most household products. But you can trust me, Dr. Schneider. I know what I’m doing here. You have to let me take him.”

“This isn’t a library, Jon. You can’t check out a patient and then drop him off like some book you needed for a research paper.”

“It’ll only be for a few hours.”

“We have things under control.”

“No, you don’t. This hospital is killing him. I know what he needs. He’s my brother, for God’s sake. He’s only a chart to you.”

“I know you’re concerned, but if you’ll give us time to—”

To what? To shove pills down his throat? To keep him locked in a room? He’s already trapped in the dark. He doesn’t need to be in a cage too.”

“It’s for his own safety.”

“It’s so you can cover your ass. If he managed to kill himself, you’d have to answer for it. That’d probably be too much paperwork, huh?”

“You have it all wrong. We do what we can to help people here. We’re the reason he’s alive.”

“And I’m grateful for it. You made sure that his heart kept beating, but you haven’t done a thing to keep it from breaking. Nothing kills a man faster than a shattered heart. Did they teach you how to mend those wounds in medical school?”

“I assure you that he has the best psychiatrist available.”

“He doesn’t need a shrink. He needs his family. Let me have the afternoon with him. Just one afternoon away from this damn place. I promise I can help him. All you have to do is let us walk out the door.”

“It’s dangerous for him outside. One wrong move and he could get seriously injured.”

“He can’t stay inside forever, doc.”


“Please. If anybody is going to take care of Dallas, you know it’s me.”

“The board would have my head if they knew that I let you two pop out for a stroll.”

“Who has to know?”

“You're not going to quit, are you? Fine, Jon. Fine. Although I have a feeling that I’m going to regret this, I’ll give you two hours. If you’re not back on time, I’ll call the police and say you’ve kidnapped my patient.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll be back. Which room did you move him to?”

“It’s the last door on the left.”

“This one?”

“That’s the one. Good luck. There’s a door that leads to the dumpster down the hallway. You can use it to slip out.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. Just help him.”


“Hey, Dallas. It’s me. It’s Jonny. I’m here.”

“Jon? What are you doing in my room?”

“I’m taking you out for a bit.”

“What’s the point in going anywhere if I can’t see it?”

“Believe me when I say that you’ll love this trip.”

“I don’t want to go, okay? I don’t want to be here at all.”

“I can’t pretend I know what you’re going through. I know that. But quit acting like this is the end of your life. There are so many wonderful things left in this world. You still have a future.”

“That’s crap and you know it. I’m a soldier. I’ve always been a soldier. How am I supposed to live my life as anything else? I’m nothing but a burden now. A burden who’s stuck in a black hole. There’s nothing left for me.”

“That’s not true. I’ll prove it to you. Come on. We’re going out.”

“If you want to help me, take me to a cliff and push me over. I don’t know why they bothered to save me from that explosion anyway. They should’ve left me there.”

“Listen up, Sergeant Parks. I won’t hear that talk coming from you. Give me your hand. I’ll lead the way.”

“I don’t want to.”

“It’s my duty as your big brother to remind you that I call the shots. You’re coming with me, or I’m going to tell the internet that you used to dress up as Brittney Spears when we were kids.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“I kept the pictures. They’ll be on Instagram by five o’clock tonight. I bet they’ll go viral.”

“Okay, okay. Take my hand. Walk slow.”

“We’ll go as slow as you need to, buddy.”

“How exactly are you going to walk me out of here without getting caught?”

"I’ve got it covered. We’re heading for the door right now. Get ready. There’s a cold wind outside today. It’s going to hit any second.”

“Yikes! It’s freezing. You better have a coat for me in your car.”

“I do. It’s parked close by. We’re almost there. Easy, there’s a curb. I’ll help you step down and in.”

“Ugh, what’s that smell? Don’t tell me it’s your car.”

“Okay, so, I need to do a little cleaning. We’re only going about six miles. I think you can handle that.”

“Roll down my window. I’m suffocating.”

“It’s rolled down, you drama queen. Hang on tight. I’m going to break some speed records.”

“In this rickety thing? We’ll have mopeds using the shoulder to go around us.”

“I’ll show you.”


“You didn’t show me, Jonny.”

“All right, I admit my engine is as sluggish as a drunken snail. We got here, didn’t we?”

“Where is ‘here’ exactly?”

“The woods behind our old neighborhood. Remember the ones? We played in them everyday until we moved across town.”

“I can’t go into the woods.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t see. I’ll trip on logs and smack into trees.”

“So what if you can’t see? That doesn’t mean that you’re helpless. I’ll tell you what. You can ride on my back until we get in deep.”

“I haven’t ridden on your back since we were kids.”

“It’ll be fine. I’ll guide you. Hop up on the count of three. One…two…three! Ow!”

“You okay?”

“I’m good. You’re heavier than you look, but I’ve got you. Let’s walk for a bit. Tell me what you hear.”

“What I hear? Well, I hear water. The lazy trickle of a stream or creek.”

“Here, we’re at a good point. I’m going to put you down. Use your ears to tell me which way the creek is. Listen close. I’ll shut up.”

“Not likely. Um…I hear it to the left.”

“You’re right. Walk to your left. You won’t fall or hit anything. I’ll make sure.”

“It’s getting louder. I think I’m right beside it.”

“That’s it. Reach down and touch the water. Do you remember how you used to stand in this creek with bare feet so you could feel the water rush over your skin?”

“Yes. It felt exactly like this. I can tell which way the water is flowing. It’s moving towards that tree we carved our initials in.”

“Stand up and walk to your right. You can grab my arm if you want. The tree is ahead. Hold your hand out and touch the bark.”

“The bark is a lot rougher than I remember. Hold on. Our initials are right here. I can feel them. JP and DP. You stole dad’s pocket knife so we could carve them.”

“What was past the tree, Dallas?”

“The clearing.”

“Let’s go sit down like we used to. Hold my arm and take it slow. No getting caught on roots or sticks today.”

“Okay. Hey, Jon! I can hear the clearing. The wind in the tall grasses. It’s hissing and humming like static on a radio. And the wind is getting stronger. It’s not blocked by the trees. I feel it on my skin. It’s rushing and roaring.”

“We are in the clearing now. Sit down on the grass. I’ll sit with you.”

“It’s strange. I’ve touched this ground a million times, but it feels different. I can sense every blade of grass. Every last one. They’re prickling against my palm. I can hear them singing to me. The leaves and the branches are singing too. I can’t describe it. I’ve never noticed it before.”

“Wait, what was that? Raindrops! Oh no. We’d better move somewhere with natural cover. It’s going to start pouring in a minute.”

“No. Stay put. The rain…do you hear it? How it’s pounding on the leaves and the ground. The rhythm is so peaceful. The drops are cold and sharp on my skin. Why didn’t it ever seem this way before?”

“You were using your eyes back then. Now, you’re using everything else. Life is more than a picture, Dallas. It’s a symphony.”



“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Reminding me of what it’s like to be alive.”

“Welcome back, buddy.”

“Before we leave for the hospital, can we dance in the rain like a couple of idiots?”

“We sure can. I’m glad you won’t be able to see how dumb I look.”

“Brother, I might be blind, but I know how dumb you look.”

“Yeah, yeah. I love you too.”

(Inspired by a Reedsy prompt contest: Write a story using only dialogue)

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