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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End (02/13/06)

TITLE: The Daughter
By terri tiffany


I wrote the scene in my head soon after I was old enough to understand the possibility. The story always opened with him lying in a softly lit bedroom. My mother and brother were seated around his bed swapping vacation stories. The extras were relatives who sent Christmas gifts instead of letters detailing their third child’s part in a school play. The local church choir waited in the wings ready to break into the Halleluiah Chorus at the pastor’s nod.

So how could my father’s life end this way? This wasn’t how I staged it. Someone needed to yell “Cut!”

I was the daughter, after all.

“He was fine. I was taking him for his monthly shot ands suddenly he didn’t know the difference between his gloves or his glasses.” My mother repeated her story for the third time. She wouldn’t edit her version.

“So they kept him?” I picked at black hairs poking from the tops of my sweat socks. The razor had been too dull that morning to accomplish much.

“The neurologist said he can never come home. They want him to go to a nursing home. What shall I do?” Why was she weeping into my ear and not following her script? Her role was Mother, comforter whenever life got me down, not someone pressing me for solutions I didn’t have.

I was the daughter, after all.

“Have you filled out any paperwork yet?” I traced my initials in the week old dust congregating on my husband’s nightstand. Why hadn’t I remembered to move the lamp when I cleaned last week?

“The social worker said Medicare will pay for the first twenty days… I think that was what she said…or was it the first one hundred?” My mother’s bookkeeping years were lost. I reached for the blanket folded at the end of the bed while supporting my right arm with the pillow.

“Mom, I’ll call her office tomorrow if you’d like. Just give me the number.” Bill always kept a pen handy. I pushed aside the dried out licorice and card I’d given him for his last birthday. “Go ahead.”

“Do you think I should get rid of his shoes and suit jackets?” White oxfords strode through my fog. I knew she probably still had the leisure suit he wore with them.

“It’s up to you mom. He hasn’t been to church in a year. I doubt he’ll ever wear them again. Ask Eddie to help you clean out some things. I’ll come up this summer and we can have a yard sale.” I hoped she’d finally let me throw out the lopsided vase I’d made in eleventh grade art class.

“He was never very nice to me, you know. I hate to speak badly of him but he wasn’t very loving. I’m sure you kids must have noticed.” I prayed she’d spare me the details.

I was the daughter, after all.

“Will you all be able to make it here if it ends soon? I think he wanted to be cremated.” My eyes followed the tilt on a crooked vacation picture. I was sure I had straightened it last week.

“Are you eating enough, mom? It’s important you take good care of yourself now. Dad will need you in the coming days. If the end is soon, we will come up. Let’s take it a day at a time.” I drew my knees to my chin. Arching my back, I heard the tiny bones in my neck snap. My chiropractor would be pleased.

My concentration was waning. My fingers ached to end the call. I didn’t want to hear her thoughts on the end just yet. I still preferred my own version.

I was the daughter, after all.

“Are you going to be able to call me tomorrow night? I think he’ll be transferred by the end of the week. He doesn’t look good. He doesn’t even remember I was there. You know he always said I would leave him in a nursing home some day. He would hate this. And they won’t leave me any money. How will I ever manage to pay my bills?”

“It will all work out, mom. Please remember that God is in control. I love you. Please tell Daddy I love him too.” The phone buzzed softly in my hand.

I wish I could have written a better ending. But I was only the daughter, after all.

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This article has been read 1055 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 02/20/06
Well, well done! A great job of creative writing. You had us right there with you experiencing every emotion. This should make it somewhere!
Jan Ackerson 02/21/06
This is excellent!
Mary Alice Bowles02/21/06
Excellent writing! Great Job.
c clemons02/22/06
I went through a similiar situation with my father so I might be bias but I thought it was great, but I am the daughter after all.
Anita Neuman02/24/06
Great use of the repeated phrase to break up the conversation. Excellent, excellent writing!!!
Andre Kingston02/24/06
I love the details of straying thoughts. I never can concentrate on just the phone call, even when it is good news. I thought that was entirely humand and excellent bit of writing.
Teri Wilson02/27/06
Congrats. I enjoyed your story. The repetition was very effective. Unfortunately, many of us can relate to the theme.
Carla Feagans02/27/06
I really enjoyed this and the way you wrote it. You made it very real and true to life, it was very effective.