Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL (don't write about the song) (04/02/15)
- TITLE: Can you see what I see?
By Milly Born
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He jerked his hand from the pocket of his coat and banged his elbow against the metal door of the closet. “Ouch! We are minding our own business.” He rubbed the sore spot. “Why can’t a man do what he wants in this God-forsaken place?”
“Now, Mr. Blacksmith, there’s no need to get grumpy.” The nurse led him back to bed. “Go to sleep; tomorrow is your last chemo session, and you’ll need to be rested. By the way, did you take your sleeping pill?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he lied.
As soon as they wheeled him back to his room, the nausea hit. He didn’t know which he hated the most—the tumor or the treatment.
A girl’s voice broke through his retching. “I’m sorry you’re sick.”
He put the basin aside and slumped back on his pillow, eyes closed.
“Shall I sing for you?” Without waiting for an answer, she began. “Like the sun, that rises every day, You are so faithful, You are so faithful…” The song echoed through the barren room.
Slowly, he turned his throbbing head and lifted one eyelid to behold a small, pale creature, dressed in pink tulle. When her eyes—too big for her face—met his, she stopped singing.
“Do you like my tutu?” She whirled on skinny legs.
He eyed her head. “What is it with your hair?”
She dropped her gaze, but then she stepped closer and whispered, “It’s a wig.”
“Look—I’m like you.” Her hands lifted the purple curls, revealing a fiery scar on a bald head.
While he barely suppressed a moan, a woman called from the corridor.
“I’m coming, Mommy.” The girl flashed a conspiring smile, put the wig back on, and skipped away.
“Can you see what I see? It’s…blue.” Lucy sat beside him as they faced the window.
His gaze wandered from the cars in the parking lot to the houses lined up along the road. The light hurt. “I give up. You tell me.”
“It’s the sky!” Her laugh tinkled in triumph.
He squinted. “But it’s grey.”
“No—there.” The purple curls tickled his cheek as she pressed her head against his, pointing up to a clearing in the ashen clouds, just as a ray of sunlight peeked through.
“Ah…” Lucy beamed, and for a moment, the dark circles under her eyes faded. “When I die, I’ll go to heaven…” She jumped up and pivoted on her toes as she rounded her raised arms. “And I’ll dance with Jesus.”
Suddenly, she froze and frowned. “Do you believe in Jesus?”
“Well…I—” He cleared his throat.
She touched his arm. “Please, do. I’d really like to see you in heaven.”
He gritted his teeth and blinked away bitter tears.
Light. Sparkling, golden light, and music; crystal tones like the water of a babbling brook. A girl, adorned in white, danced the most graceful ballet on bare feet that seemed to float above the ground. Pirouetting and gliding in long leaps, she shone with sheer delight. Purple curls had given way to dark hair, cascading over her shoulders.
“Good morning, Mr. Blacksmith. It’s time for your medicines.” The nurse’s voice dashed the wonder of his dream.
Struggling to awaken, he nearly choked as he swallowed the pills.
“Umm…I’m afraid I’ve got bad news.” She took the empty glass from him. “I probably shouldn’t tell you right now, but I know she meant a lot to you. Unfortunately, we lost Lucy this morning.”
His stomach lurched. “What happened?”
“She had a massive seizure. I’m sorry.” She patted his hand and left the room.
For a moment, he sat still. The bleak light of dawn announced a desolate day as it crept up the bare walls. No more games, songs, or whirls. No more purple curls.
He pushed the sheets back and ambled to the closet. Grabbing in his coat pocket, he pulled out a fistful of sleeping pills. As he entered the bathroom, hollow eyes stared at him from the mirror, his mouth drawn downward in a tight line.
Lucy was dead. Yet, in his dream, she had seemed more alive than ever.
On an impulse, he threw the pills in the toilet and flushed. As he watched them swirl around and disappear, a warm sense of peace settled over him. When he looked up, the mirror reflected the slightest smile.
He probably wouldn’t dance with Jesus, but he could at least try to walk.
Lucy’s song: “You Are So Faithful” by Bob Fitts
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