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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)

TITLE: The Last Goodbye
By Megan Sayer
02/08/11


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YOUíRE TUNED INTO HOBARTíS OWN ONE OH ONE POINT SEVEN, THE HOME OF LATE NIGHT CLASSICS, AND COMING UP NOW AT A QUARTER TO MIDNIGHT, HEREíS A SONG FROM REMÖ
DADADADADA..DAAA.DAAA.DADADADADA..

I canít sing along. Has anyone else noticed how inappropriate this song is?
The lights in Grampís hospital room have been turned down for the night when we arrive. Thereís a stillness in the room thatís unusual for the amount of people in it, although the man in the next bed has his radio up far too loud. We squeeze in behind Uncle Fred and Angela, nodding a tacit hello to Norma as she strokes back whatís left of Grampís hair. Sue and Brian are heading off to get coffee, itís going to be a long night.

ITíS THEEEEEEE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW ITÖ
He doesnít look much different than heíd always looked to me, propped up on pillows. His breathing is laboured and he has a tube in his nose, but Iíd expected people who were dying to lookÖwellÖI donít know. Iíd never seen anyone dying before. I donít even know Gramp very well, not well enough to justify being here in his final hour. I know him as a larrikin, an enthusiastic drinker and joker, a man who saw the inside of a church at his christening and at his wedding, and that was enough for him. Max and I have been together two years now, but having only just moved back to Hobart, I havenít seen much of his extended family. I donít belong here, yet I belong with Max and feel compelled to stay.

ITíS THEEEEEE ENDÖ
I finger the gingham curtains and look down at my feet. Norma is crying silent tears while she whispers her love to Gramp. Max takes his place at Grampís other side and holds his hand gently. Gramp had always been one of Maxís favourite people, and it must be hard for him to see his hero like this. Gramp flew fighter planes during the war. Later on heíd flown commercial planes, started his own businesses and taken the family on wild trips through Africa fulfilling all his boyhood dreams. And now this manís man was still, struggling to whisper a few words in these his final hours. I can see the tears in Maxís eyes. This is the end of an era.

ITíS THEEEEEE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW ITÖ
I step backwards out of Grampís curtained cubicle. The man in the next bed looks bored, staring out the window. I can see the lights of the TV flicker on his face, and his radio is still blaring. The nurses have said nothing. I donít know if he realizes that the man in the bed next to him will be leaving soon.
DADADADADA..DAAA.DAAA.DADADADADA..

Sue is back, whispering in Maxís ear. He makes room for her on the bed and she sits down, gently laying her forehead on Grampís legs. Brian and I exchange glances and I take my cue, backing out of the cubicle and slowly turning to the door. Coffee break. Toilet break. Anything break.

Iím leaning up against the wall outside the cafeteria sipping a burnt and cooling coffee when a lady approaches me. She has long white hair in a plait down her back and looks familiar, but at first I canít place her.
ďDianne?Ē she says to me.
And then I remember. Sheís been at our church a few months, helps out with the morning teas. From the mainland. Iíve only met her once or twice.
ďDianne youíre with Mr Broderick in room 36 arenít you?Ē
ďNo, itís MaxísÖYes. Yes I amĒ So tired.
ďWell can you tell Max I visited with his grandfather just yesterday, and had such a lovely conversation. I work here, Iím the chaplain.Ē
Iím waiting. Until now I hadnít realized how hunched my shoulders had become.
She touched me gently on the arm. ďHe said Yes.Ē

God. God God God.
By the time I make it back to the room heís gone. Norma is quiet now. Max is holding Sue, who is crying. I look over at Gramp, the brother of one day that I never knew. The man in the next bed is asleep now and his radio is off, but the words of that last song echo in my head.
ITíS THEEEEEE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW ITÖ
AND I FEEL FINEÖ
See you up there, Gramp.


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This article has been read 530 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/10/11
What a nice story. I liked how you put pieces of the song in. The ending was lovely.
diana kay02/12/11
great story and well told! I too think the way you used the music to set the scence and to interweave the pauses was very clever.You have managed to tell a whole story here within the word count. Clever!
Helen Curtis02/12/11
Great job!
Bonnie Bowden 02/12/11
It's great that God brings certain people into our life at unexpected times.

It is difficult to say goodbye to those we love, but the reasurance of heaven makes all the difference.

Well written.
Michael Throne02/17/11
It's our fantasy...how can anyone we know and love and, especially, respect not know Christ? Well told; I enjoyed this. Great play with the song, as well.
Rachel Phelps02/17/11
Great descriptions and pacing. Congratulations on your Editor's Choice award!
diana kay02/17/11
well deserved win :-) congrautlaions
Beth LaBuff 02/17/11
Congratulations on your ribbon and Editor's Choice! Great work! This is heart-warming.
Henry Clemmons02/17/11
Great job Megan. Congrats on EC. I look forward to reading more from you.
Adele Butler02/17/11
Very powerful story. I felt as if I were in the room watching on. A well deserved win. Congratulations.
Margaret Kearley 02/18/11
Wonderful. Great writing and a well deserved EC placing - congratulations. You described the sadness, the hopelessness, the grief, then the miracle of salvation and hope - just beautifully.
Phyllis Stokes 02/28/14
Very engaging. Loved it, all the way through, and especially the end. Great job!