A Fictional Short Story By Chris Z.
The gun sounded, and hundreds of well-fit male bodies ran at full speed across the starting line as the 2017 Human Race launched. The land-race would cover 12 miles, and a good completion time would be one hour, sixteen minutes, reflecting a rate of 8 minutes per mile.
The race began with runners feeling optimistic and happy but before long they faced several significant challenges, such as a steep hill, a narrow passageway along the cliff, a rough path through a heavily wooded forest and the baking sun. Yes, the heat was suffocating and the water stations were busy keeping runners hydrated.
Jim, an avid triathlete, was in the lead. He wore an orange shirt and green shorts, plus he had an orange head-band looped around his noggin (reflecting his alma mater: Syracuse University). The sweat drenched his shirt and shorts and ran down his legs. He came over the small hill to the third water station and lunged for a cup of water. The first he threw down his throat and the second he tossed over his head to cool himself down. The water-station attendants cheered him on: “You’re doing great! Push on! Bravo!” All of which gave Jim the shot in the arm he needed, and took his mind off the pain he was feeling in his legs and rear-end, pain caused by the pounding pressure from the fast-pace trout.
Jim’s mind wondered: why was he putting himself through this agony? Didn’t he have a wonderful life apart from this agony: a wonderful family, great job and luxuries. Yes! He was comfortable, but the race was about proving his manliness and defying age-induced fatigue. Exactly! He had to prove he was still a vibrant male and able to conquer whatever life threw at him. He was determined. So, he pressed on.
He rounded a bend, but stumbled and fell. His knees were both in pain and right shoulder ached. He rolled and cried for help. A few minutes passed and then a race official came on the scene. They attended to his wounds and transported him to the the local hospital. There, the medical team diagnosed his condition as a bruised elbow, a bump-on-the-head (but, fortunately, no concussion) and a stubbed toe. He rose to his feet slowly and marched forward. He was determined to finish the race even though his pace at the finish-line would be slow. He saw the completion-point immediately ahead, and picked up his pace so he could complete the race exhibiting determination and a strong pace. The crowd gathered at the finish-line cheered him on. They shouted, “Bravo,” “Good-job” and “Stupendous.”
Story by Synapse House Member, Chris Z.
As I opened my eyes and awoke,I started to think about what I was going to do. I decided that I was going venture into the wilds. I turned on the radio and listen to the weather forecast. According to the weather man, it was going to remain cool, with a strong south wind. Knowing this, I decided to go for a long walk around the lake. To do this, there was a few things that I had to do first. I gathered all the clothes that I would need and laid them out on the bed. I then, went down to the basement and got my backpack. I stocked it with everything that I thought that I might need for this encounter into the outdoors. Once that was done, I was all set for the trek to begin.
I doned the perfect gear for my venture into the wild, and headed out the door. Right away, I was knowing that this was going to be one of those days , that I would remember for a long time. The woods was alive with all the various sounds. There were birds singing, their melodious songs which gave you a feeling that all was in a good place, and gave you the knowledge that everything was at peace in the world.I continued on down the path, when suddenly I heard a familiar sound It sounded like there was a party going on in the sky. I peered up to the sound and spotted the disturbance. There they were, a large flock of Sandhill Cranes. I could not believe how many birds were in the the flock. I tried to count them, but I had to stop when reached fifty birds and there was still a lot more. I grabbed my camera out of my backpack and managed to take a few good shots of those birds before they were too far away. I was glad that I thought of my camera when I packed my backpack.
I continued down the path, trying to keep my eyes wide open looking for any wildlife that would make an appearance.I was searching around when suddenly, my eyes ventured down and I could not believe my eyes. There, in front of me was a huge rat snake. He was at least three feet long and was in no hurry to get out of the way. I sprung into my pocket and once again I was able to take a picture..I watched him slowly slither away into the underbrush.
As I continued my walk, I heard a commotion up the hill. I froze in my tracks, as a bear came charging down the path. It was obvious, he did not see me as he came closer to me. I remembered my outdoorsman survival training, which is not to move and the bear will not see you .It must have worked, because he did not slow down as he flew by and did not break stride.and jumped into the lake and swam away. Once my heart started beating again, I carried on and wished that I had thought to take picture with my camera so I would have proof of something when I retell this story.
It is nice to have experiences like that to show that life is worth living and that you never know what is going to happen next. Here's hoping that surviving an incident like that makes you want to experience life to its fullest.
Fictional Story by Synapse House Member, Tom W.
Synapse House is at the corner of a stripmall in Elmhurst. Joanne manages the day-to-day operations. She is organized and direct, which she has to be to keep members in line. There are often about a half-dozen members everyday. We participate in group activities such as sitting around a table and talking about current events. We also type projects like this one.
Dale, a member, is here today sitting next to me at a computer. He is wearing a Cubs jersey and baseball hat. Dale is a nice, jovial fella. And, he is a Cubs fan, which I appreciate.
What happens at Clubhouse, day-to-day? We usually have a meeting to kick-off the day during which Joanne reviews the day’s agenda. We then transgress to a discussion of current events and member preferences for the day’s agenda. Members also offer feedback on how Clubhouse can be improved, such as having root beer available in the refrigerator machine and stocking the freezer with Dove (ice cream) bars. Yummy! Joanne is giving me, now, a stern look that my last few comments were not appropriate. But, my answer: this is America. Freedom of speech.
By Synapse House Member, Chris Z.
Tony broke into a sprint immediately after the starter’s gun sounded, sand from the beach filtered through his toes before he dove into the lake to start the race. The swim was the first event. It was a mile long and grueling. The cold, dark water was uninviting, very intimidating. As he splashed forward, his eyes caught the glimmer of several small perch. To motivate himself, he tried to catch them, pushing forward hard in the pursuit of the gills. When he emerged at the end, walking on the beach, exhausted, he was glad that was behind him. Sand filtered over his feet as he ran on the beach, approaching the next event.
He moved onto the run, which was a 10-K. It was up and down small hills, through the woods and along a river. He had to be careful not to trip on tree roots along the path. He took off in a sprint, and finished the running leg in record-time. Hooray!
He felt like he had enough in the tank to finish strong. Thus, he mounted his bike -- a “Specialized” -- red, white and blue racing cycle, with a gearbox that had 18 speeds, most of which he would use. His confidence soared, as well as the excitement about crossing the finish line and being surrounded by adoring family and friends.
He sped over the start-line and onto the track, which was a highway closed for this event. The bike-portion of the race was 15-miles, and it covered up-and-down hills, curves and around a crystal blue lagoon. As he picked up speed on the bike, he could feel the breeze in his face and the adrenalin pumping in his veins. The yellow line on the middle of the pavement flew by him and he picked up speed. He had to be careful on the turns not to spins out because the road had gravel and potholes. He was vigilant. His eagle-eyes focused on the pavement and he avoided the ruts in the pavement.
He came around the last turn and saw the finish-line. His bike was cruising, and he pressed forward. He crossed the finish-line and was relieved the race was over. He walked over to the refreshments table and jugged a blue Gatorade. After catching his breath, he strolled over to a bar and ordered a Special Export, nice and cold and very refreshing. That hit the spot!
Congratulations to Liam Fasick for achieving the Eagle Court of Honor! The Eagle is the highest recognition that Scouting offers to Scouts. It is earned through the advancement program, and only a small percentage of boys who begin in Scouting receive this honor.
Way to go Liam!
Liam collected over 600 items for his Eagle Scout Project to benefit Synapse House.
As we enter a new year at the Clubhouse, we are enjoying a little growth. We are seeing new members joining our community. The new members are showing us, that the need for us is a growing concern in the everyday world.
Every day we set up a different set of jobs for the members to do. It may be a typing job, which will do the job of having the client use their thinking skills as well as their manual dexterity skills. This makes the client take an active part in the running of the Clubhouse. They are part of everything that we do, including the making of our daily lunches. They are made aware of all the things that they must use to work in a kitchen and be sanitary and safe when preparing food. It is important that the client knows not only how to prepare, but be safe. A TBI survivor does not always think of what various actions they take when working in a kitchen. We want to make sure they are safe when working in kitchen, and practice makes perfect.
We also put out a monthly newsletter. The clients take pride in doing this. They construct the whole paper.They write stories, print recipes for many meals that they have tried and wish to pass them on, The members get a chance to play board games, where the members learn to work as a unit and have a fun time playing together and not cause trouble. It allows them to see that they might be brain injured but they are far from being useless. The members try as much as they can to carry on and try to move forward.
It is very obvious that the Clubhouse is trying to be a helpful and wanted place for TBI survivors to have a place where they can go and not be judged unfairly. I, myself, enjoy coming to the Clubhouse, where I can be myself and be part of something positive. The newspaper that they put out not only informs the general public about brain injury, it also shows that the members can express themselves.
It is hard to state what the Clubhouse helps its members, believe me it is a way that I can go and be assured that my being there gives my life a chance to be useful and once again enjoyable.
The SH Business Unit is a small group of SH “members” who focus their time and attention, weekly, on organizing tasks that drive the enterprise’s business. Tasks include: planning weekly events, organizing family get-togethers and setting the organization’s priorities. Joanne, Business Unit Coordinator (a.k.a. “the chief”), oversees the tasks of the Business Unit and gives counsel and advice. She gives input on how to improve productivity and outcomes. Generally, the advice is meaningful and thoughtful. But occasionally, her ideas fall flat, and members are quick to point-out the shortcomings, with sarcasm and ridicule. Joanne is good spirited and accepts the abuse patiently and often responds with a crisp, clear jovial retort. The group enjoys one another’s company, and the antics displayed by members and Joanne create an interesting and engaging clubhouse, an admirable result that members thoroughly enjoy and look forward to.
By Synapse House Member, Chris Z.
Creative writing is the process of composing prose that is unique and engaging. It captures the readers’ imagination from the get-go, and thrills to the very end. A reader of creative writing is caught-up in the storyline, thrilled by the plot and intrigued by the prolog. They don’t want to put the prose down, knowing the loss would be gut-wrenching.
Good creative writing is hard to find. One must search for excellent authors and remember them so as to be able to access their works with frequency going forward.
Storylines may include murder mysteries, ghost-sightings or adventures, such as the exploration of the polar icecaps. Creative writing can be enjoyed in various venues, like when a person is on vacation or relaxing in a saloon with a cold beer and pretzels at his fingertips.
The author and reader let themselves go, meaning their imagination runs wild, and they don’t let the day-to-day ordinary stuff interfere.
Where is great creative writing found? If one looks for the work in quality bookstores, at the library or on-line venues, they will find good choices.
By Synapse House Member, Chris Z.
The Annual (2016) Synapse House Gala was staged at an old farm house in Barrington, Illinois. It was an yearly event that gathered people invested in the organization’s mission to raise funds, and heighten its profile in the local community.
Guests would enjoy cocktails, beer or wine and a delicious dinner, either steak or salmon. The choice was theirs. And, dessert was delightful -- a moist, chocolate cake with soft, German chocolate frosting. Yummy! The event lasted six hours.
The featured speaker talked up the mission of the organization and made a respectful request for donations. The organization needed a financial shot in the arm, and hopefully the gathered mass would write some large checks.
The Gala had a long, topsy-turvey history. Like the Synapse House members, the gala was a little “off” balance. That is, it started on time and the band played some nice tunes, but two hours into the production, the lead singer passed out, crashing into the drumset nearby. Apparently, he had diabetes and forgot to take his insulin. Some guests thought he had indulged in too much liquor but the master of ceremonies assured guests that his trauma was medically induced and explainable. This was something that happened to him every two years or so. Crashing to the floor created sores and bruises. But, the vocalists stood up, recovered and carried on with the production. Bravo!
By Synapse House Member, Chris Z.
I went on a Cruise ship to Cozumel, Mexico. Independence of the Seas. I went with my daughter Kate, my son Kenny III, Jenny and I. Joe and Chris, my mother-in-law and father-in-law. where there. Joe, my brother-in-law, Stacey, my sister-in-law, Joey Jr., my nephew, Brandon, my nephew, Johnny, my nephew, and Jimmy, my nephew. We ate a lot. Had fun.
It was a blast.
Synapse House Member, Ken W.