Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)
TITLE: Two Sides to Every Story
By Author Unknown
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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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