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Hippocampus' Charade

A First Responder's Ritual

By Brannan K.Published about a year ago Updated about a year ago 1 min read
Top Story - February 2024
Hippocampus' Charade
Photo by Photos_frompasttofuture on Unsplash

He snapped the book shut and set it bedside. Eyes closed - ready for respite - but the hippocampus still painted the canvas beneath his lids.

"Do we have to do this? Every night?"

They opened, exhausted retinas recognizing wisping forms; a man expiring on an escarpment after resuscitation failed, hazy eyes staring back, his final exhalation autonomic; a toddler strapped in a car seat, vehicle upside down, little hand suspended in gravity. He never saw that blameless face, just the hand; reaching for a life that never started.

He shuddered as tides unleashed, hoping they knew, somehow; he tried.


Author's Note:

Though an accounting of my personal experience, I submitted this to the Microfiction Magic challenge as this is what I imagine it would look like if the scene was put to paper. Writing is truly cathartic.

An average person will witness or be involved in two to three 'critical incidents' in their lifetime.

An average first-responder (firefighter, law enforcement officer) will see that number climb to 188 in the span of an average twenty-year career alone.

Studies completed by the US Department of Justice estimate that 20% of officers exhibit symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and over 25% of all first-responders.


About the Creator

Brannan K.

****Vivid prose and thrills****

Favorite Reads:

Terry Brooks - The Shannara Trilogy

J.R.R.Tolkien - Lord of the Rings

James Rollins - Ice Hunt

Ernest Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises

Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  4. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  5. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (22)

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  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    Oh man. That must be incredibly hard to cope with, day-in day-out. Nicely evoked.

  • Dariusz 4 months ago

    Congratulations on top story :)

  • Anna 4 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳

  • olymoolla4 months ago

    Nice story 👏

  • Andrea Corwin 4 months ago

    Heartbreaking event, great story - congrats!

  • Gerard DiLeo4 months ago

    PTSD--we all have it, just different amounts. Yes, some. professions have overwhelming amounts. Once you get past the "part of the job" excuse, it gets scary.

  • Kendall Defoe 4 months ago

    Damn... I will have to think long and hard about this one...especially in the wee small hours...

  • Ashley Shiflett4 months ago

    Wow! Amazing writing. ❤️ Thank tou so much for sharing this.

  • JBaz4 months ago

    ' exhausted retinas recognizing wisping forms' this right here says it . I felt the drained soul and emotions from this line. Congratulations

  • sleepy drafts4 months ago

    Wow - this really puts in perspective the heart that goes into this profession and the toll it takes. Thank you for writing and sharing this piece 💗

  • Sandra Tena Cole4 months ago

    Wow, Brannan, how heartbreaking and poignant! Thank you for writing something that many might need to understand in such a beautiful way 💓

  • Daphsam4 months ago

    Wow, what imagery you have written here! Very dynamic.

  • Lamar Wiggins4 months ago

    Excellent! This clearly paints a vivid picture of a reality that most of us never think about or experience! So glad it was shared. Thank you for your service!

  • This was so so sad. I could imagine that little hand reaching out. This was beautifully written.

  • L.C. Schäferabout a year ago

    This was truly horrible and it's going to stay with me a long, long time. I hope it gets Top Story ❤

  • Pauline Fountainabout a year ago

    Thank you for publishing this Brannan. A moments pause for the grief and distress so eloquently expressed in such a tragedy. Pauline 🌸

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Oh, this is powerful. Great writing. Well done.

  • Gina C.about a year ago

    Oh, this paints such a picture. 🥺 Very, very well done - and of course - very, very sad. ❤️

  • Donna Reneeabout a year ago


  • Zack Grahamabout a year ago

    I didnt want to tell you to write this kind of piece for this challenge - just know that it was blaring in my mind, and I am very happy you did. This is award winning material here, period.

  • KJ Aartilaabout a year ago

    Awesome, but such a sad story - and I would have thought the incident of PTSD among first responders, etc to be higher - I cannot imagine the things they see and how often. Thank you for sharing this! ❤️

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