Last week, Cormac Brown, decided that there was not going to be a starter sentence for Flash Fiction Friday, and instead gave four words that had to be included within the words of the story.
PATER, PEST, PERPENDICULAR, SCHLEMIEL.
The words don’t have to be in any particular order just as long as all four are used. So, here goes with my second post in this great challenge – LAST WORDS.
“He’s a bum! A schlemiel! I don’t know why you wanted to marry him in the first place. He’s not even a…..”
“Pater, please. He will hear you.”
Those were the last words that Roy Kelly heard his father-in-law speak of him. It was also the last time he saw his wife and that was exactly three weeks after the death of his son Elijah.
“Daddy, I don’t mean to be a pest, but will you tell me again what purpledicular means?”
Roy had played this same scenario over and over in his mind for the past forty three years with the same loving smile on his lips. The ‘purpledicular’ game.
“Well son, purpledicular, I….I don’t think I know what that means. No, sorry Elijah, I think you’ve got me there.”
“Oh, papa, yes you do you big silly.” A small giggle followed by a weakened cough.
“Ah, you mean perpendicular don’t you? Silly me, silly daddy,” Roy laughed, although there was a tear in his eye. Be strong, he told himself. “Well, let me see,” he looked around the room and out through the window, “Can you see outside, over the way there,” he said pointing, “There is a big street light, standing tall and straight up from the road. Well that is perpendicular, and that is what you will be, tall and strong and running and playing. You can do anything you want to, son.”
Roy took his son’s hand in his: gently stroking his thumb over the soft, warm skin. Why had this happened to him? It wasn’t fair. A parent wasn’t supposed to outlive their children. Elijah was only seven years old. He was a bright boy, clever beyond his years and his favourite game was to ask his dad about long words. A recent long word he had come to learn was leukaemia. He had been diagnosed with it two months earlier but the speed it had taken over his young body was relentless. Almost over night he had weakened. The treatment and medicines he had been given had only served as to delay the inevitable.
Roy looked back at his son, blinking a tear away. The salty liquid ran down his cheek and onto his chin. He quickly wiped it away.
“Papa, don’t be sad. I’ll be better soon and then we can run and play and find more big words.”
Elijah coughed hard, putting his hand to his mouth. When he moved his hand, Roy noticed the dark liquid at the corner of his mouth. The end was getting close. He wiped his son’s mouth then squeezed his hand, telling him he would be back. Outside the room, Roy’s wife sat with her father on the two chairs. They both looked up at Roy as he opened the door and he explained the situation, telling them he was going to get the doctor and that they should be in there with Elijah.
Roy’s wife had never really been close to their son. After her mother had died, shortly after the birth of Elijah, her father had become her constant fixation and the mother-child bond had been severed. Roy had not been able to comprehend the situation with her father and how she could block out that she was a wife and, more importantly, a mother.
“He’s my father. He was here before the both of you and he needs me.”
“Yes, and so do we!”
Roy returned minutes later with the doctor. As he opened the door to his son’s room he heard the weeping. He would not see his son again.
Roy sat in the threadbare armchair in his dusty living room. In his arthritic hand, the empty pill bottle slowly fell from his weak fingers. With the sleeping pills he had already taken, the overdose of his methotrexate would soon have him in the place he longed to be. Roy had never had the courage to take his own life before now. ‘Coward’ he’d called himself, but deep down he knew he wasn’t. He knew that that wasn’t what Elijah would have wanted but now, Roy knew, now was the time.
As Roy’s breathing became laboured, he started drifting towards a light. With each breath the light started getting brighter and deep within the light he could see a figure. It was time. The figure started to get closer, its features getting clearer. Then the figure was running, arms outstretched, getting closer. Roy started running too, his legs moving easily. He looked down at his hands and they were no longer old and twisted. They were young and strong and reaching down, sweeping the running boy off his feet. He lifted the boy into the air, spinning round and round.
“Daddy, tell me again what ‘purpledicular’ means.
Roy’s body exhaled its last breath.
I was a bit out of my comfort zone with this story, but it was what came to mind. So…please do leave a comment…good or bad, all comments are very much appreciated.