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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)

TITLE: Two Sides to Every Story
By Author Unknown


Rain littered the parking lot as Marianne muddled her way to the front door. She was grateful for the rain. It covered the trails of mascara that had already run down her cheeks.

Ann was waiting for her at the front door in purple scrubs with matching crocs. This made her smile. “Hi, Marianne, I’m glad you’re here”, she said.

Together they walked down the hall. “It might be a few minutes or a few hours, but this is it,” Ann said, putting one arm around Marianne. “I think he’s been waiting for you,” she gave her a squeeze.

They rounded the corner where her father lay sleeping. His “Hal Horton” nameplate hung on the door. It was the one Marianne had made, nearly 40 years before.

Ann checked his stats briefly and adjusted his drip. “If you need me, I’ll be just down the hall.”
He heard Ann’s voice. He liked it like honey on cornbread, soft and sweet with just a little bit of grit. He liked Ann.
She took off her coat and hung it on the back of the chair. It was a dim and hushed room and the chair sounded unusually harsh scraping across the floor, she pulled it closer to her father’s bed. She sat down, unsure what to do.

She laid her hand on his arm, petting him like an old cat. “Hey, Dad, it’s me, Marianne. Cade will be here soon.”
He heard a dragon roar and claw at his flesh. The low snarl of pre-fire on its breath reverberated against his eardrums.
Her dad started moaning. She looked down to see four parallel red streaks on his forearm. She’d been too rough; seeing her damage, she jerked her hands.
“Abba! Abba! Save me!” He shouts, but it falls on deaf, unfeeling ears.

The God of his youth abandoned him there to die. All his prayers lay scattered, shriveling in the heat of his tormentor’s breath. “God, why I am not worth saving?” “Please, please? I beg of you, God, please save me.”
“Save Me.” It was the only coherent thing she heard him say. His voice didn’t sound the way she remembered it. He sounded too small.

Her Dad was getting agitated. She didn’t know how to help.

“Please, please?” He began to whimper, a tear made its way from the corner of his eye down towards his nose.

Her finger reached out to wipe it away. “Shh, it’s going to be okay. Don’t worry, I’ve got you.” She whispered into his ear.

He recognized her, his little Marianne.
He smiled. She realized they weren’t totally disconnected.

She crawled into the bed next to him and together wrapped in a cocoon of tangled sheets, they drifted off to sleep. Tiny lights continuing to blink and instrumental hymns playing overhead.
Safe and secure from all alarms…leaning on the everlasting arms.

The arms felt so familiar to him. They were strong, comfortable arms. The air around him lightened and the colors faded to bright white.
Her husband appeared at the door. Carefully prying herself away she tucked the blankets in closely around her father.

She raised a finger to her lips before opening her arms to her beloved and falling into them. He held her for a very long time.

Linking arms and hands, they surrounded her father. “We’re both here, Dad. We love you and always will.” She chased away the heaviness with her breath. “We will be right here until you’re ready to go.”

They kept her father’s death vigil. Pillows fluffed, blankets tucked, verses read and hymns sung.
There is so much love in this room. There is so much love in this room.

They had dozed off waiting for death to pass. An alarm rang bringing Ann into the room. She checked Hal’s pulse and whispered something into his ear. “I think it’s time to say goodbye,” she said.

“Goodbye, Dad.” Cade patted his shoulder.

“Goodbye, Daddy.” Marianne left kisses and tears on his cheek.

“Am I going somewhere? Wait a second. Someone tell me what’s happening?” he thought.

They took their turns saying goodbye before he gasped his last breath.
“Shh..it’s going to be okay,” Love whispered in Hal’s ear. “Don’t worry, I’ve got you.”
Then his body relaxed and he was still.

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This article has been read 626 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/26/10
Your story gave me goosebumps. It is always hard to watch a loved one die. You handled the scene with dignity, respect and most of all love.
Marilyn Schnepp 02/26/10
First the Kudos! Any writer that brings their readers to an emotional state, such as tears or laughter, is an excellent writer! And yes, I wept. However, the first part was hard to grasp as I got lost in not knowing the what(?), the why(?) of the dreams, the shouts, etc.; But very well written, an enjoyable-but-sad story, and deserving of an A+ for excellence. Kudos!
Maria Kana Santos02/26/10
Excellent writing.
This part of your story, "She looked down to see four parallel red streaks on his forearm. She’d been too rough; seeing her damage, she jerked her hands."--is confusing. Was she a "bad daughter" to Hal? Is it why Hal thought he heard a "dragon roar" and felt a "claw at his flesh"?
I had hope that Hal heard Jesus' voice and welcomed him to Heaven.

Margaret Villanueva03/01/10
I enjoyed your story. It's always hard dealing with a patient with dementia. I can relate to the red scratches-by the end, my father's skin had become so sensitive that any slightest touch could cause bruises and even tear the flesh. I think that this could be lengthened for more impact. You had to go too fast, it seemed to me.
Ruth Stromquist03/02/10
I, too, was near tears at the end. A very moving story! Actually, I had no trouble at all following the dragon references (chair loudly moving), and POV of the father, because of it being set off by italics and the short lines. It worked smoothly for me. However, I actually got confused in your first couple paragraphs, when trying to follow the two women talking, for some reason -- not sure why. I had to re-read that a couple of times to get it sorted out.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/03/10
You dealt with this sad issue excellently--always hard to say goodbye. I particularly liked the reference to the love in the room.
Loren T. Lowery03/03/10
I agree this was beautifully done and handled with quiet dignity. At first I was going to mention POV,(the transition between the voices/thoughts) but then I re-read your title and understood. You handled this very well.
Sarah Elisabeth 03/03/10
Wow. I have goosebumps from head to toe. This was an amazing piece of work. One of my favorites for the week!
Edmond Ng 03/03/10
A very sad story, yet with the assurance of victory that if we have got Jesus as our Savior, we need not worry, because we are safe with Him wherever we may be. Nicely written and moving hearts.
Catrina Bradley 03/03/10
Very moving. The man's thoughts interspersed with the action are very effective - but they switch tense a few times. I absolutely love how this ends. Great job!
Beth LaBuff 03/03/10
You have a lot of emotion packed into this story. You've beautifully handled your subject matter!
Carole Robishaw 03/27/10
Lynn, this is really good. I had goosebumps as I read. And had to fight tears to finish it. I've been there with both my mom and my mother-in-law. It's not easy.