I wrote this for Ronovan’s Flash Fiction Challenge #13. The directions include:
Take your favorite quote from a movie and use it as inspiration for your entry this week. If you want more direction, make it the last sentence in your piece. (REQUIRED) OK I may have used a book quote, but who knows they may have made it into a movie.
Word Count of 500. (SUGGESTED)
“Hospital white”, it was everywhere I looked, including the ceramic tiles on the wall, the curtains separating the patients in the semi-private rooms, and the food trays wheeled down the hall to patients who had no interest in the flavorless food.
From in the hallway, I could sense the grief of my family. It was as if they shared one thought, one heartbeat while watching the heart monitor. The synthesized sound that mimicked the bouncing flashing lights had been muted. Captured scientific notations printed on strips of papers that bled silently into a waiting basket.
They were alone in the room witnessing his final breaths. The nursing staff maintained a distance to allow them to witness his final moments. They would only intervene if needed or requested; no one expected any miracles to occur. Any silent prayers made were for a pain-free exit for him and relief for those sharing this final act.
I waited in the hallway, leaning against the wall like an extra in one of those sad black and white movies. I could hear my mother calling for me, but I couldn’t answer. She would have to rely on my sister’s strength to see her through this event. I had been gone for a long time and she had taken over my role in the family.
My father had been a strong man, who did not ask for favors. He worked hard all of his life and expected his children to do the same. He expected me to work hard and replace him later as the man of the house as he had done for his father. The tradition was strong in our lives, as the family pictures on hallway wall reminded us.
My father worked as a mechanic but he was much more. For us and most of the neighbors, he was a “fixer”. He was the one everyone turned to get things to run. He had a magical touch when it came to the worn tired machines we and the neighbors had. He could grease and massage our “treasures” back into life when pulled from the trash of the people who lived on the other side of town. He was a magician that waived a wench and wove electrical tape and bailing wire into intricate repairs. He was constantly repairing bikes, trikes, and wagons for the neighborhood and the children loved him for it. I was proud to be his son.
The nurse walked past me into the room; apparently some piece of equipment attached to him indicated the end was drawing near. She reminded everyone to expect labored breathing and he might struggle for air, but it would pass quickly as his body relaxed. For the moment, he was resting quietly. My sister held onto my mother’s hand and sobbed quietly.
Ten years ago at dad’s retirement party he spoke to everyone about how he wished I had been there. He told everyone how we had rebuilt a car together and how I had rewired the ignition without any help. He said I had been so proud of that and how we loved to go together for rides in that old car we rebuilt together. Dad cried when he went on to tell the story of my death a year before.
I heard the doctor tell the nurse, “it will be over soon, call the priest.”
When I saw Dad coming out of the room to greet me, I reached into my pocket and grabbed my keys. “Dad, let’s go for a ride.”
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.”
The force that holds us
Can bridge distance between us
-Our love works that way