Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)
By Dara Sorensen
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I have to go in there, she told herself. I must.
With a deep breath she set foot in the room and walked to the foot of the bed. There was no sound in the room except for the rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor and the ventilator. The patient in the bed was immobile and pale. Jocelyn bit her lip hard enough to taste blood.
It was her father.
She choked down a sob, humbled by the sight of such a strong man so helpless. His face was sunken in, his skin pale. She never thought she would ever see her father in such a state.
She never thought she’d see her father again.
She edged closer to the bed, trembling slightly. She managed to grab his hand, cold as it was.
She knew he might not hear her, but she had to talk to him now. They hardly talked before, always managing to get into some trivial argument when they did. Those arguments managed to make a small space between them at first, but as the years passed, it became a wide and expansive chasm.
Why is it that we always wait until it is too late? She thought to herself.
“Hi Daddy.” She swallowed back the unfamiliar emotion, trying to find her voice.
“Daddy…I know you probably can’t hear me but…I just wanted to say…to say that I’m sorry. Sorry for everything.” She squeezed his hand, hoping for one back, knowing that it wouldn’t come.
The words began to pour from her heart, flooding through the years. “I’m sorry for not trying to mend things. I know we always disagreed on everything, everything that didn’t matter.” She felt tears escape from her eyes. “And the space between us grew, Dad. I don’t know how…but it did.” She looked at her hands. They were shaking.
She ignored her quivering hands and continued talking. “I guess we’re both stubborn, huh? Mom was right you know. I’m more like you than I wanted to admit to myself.” She smiled sadly, imaging her father’s deep laughter. She looked at his motionless face, hoping, praying he could hear her. She had to tell him what her heart said, even if he couldn’t hear her.
“Daddy, I know neither one of us is big on the mushy side of life. We both hate being emotional. I suppose that’s why we never resolved anything, afraid of the sentiment factor.” She paused and sighed, looking intently at him as if he were staring right at her.
“And even though you probably can’t hear me…I just want you…want you to know…” she had to calm herself; her words were becoming unintelligible through her sobs.
“Daddy, I love you. If I could rewind time, as silly as that sounds, I would change everything. You have to know that, Dad. You have to…” How she wished he’d open his eyes and look at her; she longed for him to hug her and tell her it would be okay. “Please…please know that I love you and I’ll always be your little girl.” She sobbed and bent her head down next to her father. “I’ll always be your little girl.”
All the emotions that had gathered over the years poured from her soul. She sobbed, the tears running down her face, smearing her mascara. Memories flooded her mind, memories of him protecting her and loving her. She had always avoided remembering the past, imagining they were always distant, avoiding the truth. But he had been there, in his own way. He may not have shown his emotions but she understood now. He always loved her.
Only a week before, she would have vehemently denied that she was anything like her father; now she was proud that she was. And she knew that she loved him and always had, even through the years of division.
She sat up and rubbed her face of the tears. She glanced at the clock and realized it was time for her to leave. “Daddy, I have to go now,” she said softly. “And I promise I’ll come back tomorrow.”
She kissed his brow. As she began to leave the room, she looked back at her father one last time.
In the dim evening sunlight, she saw two lone tears.
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