Posted by JerseyGirl3030, Dec 22, 2009. 830 views. ID = 3048
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Around the trunk of a massive tree, was a chain connected to an empty collar in a large barren backyard. Instead of grass there was dirt. Instead of a swing set or a sand box there was a bicycle missing a front wheel. The tool shed was missing half of the bottom of one of the walls and the bottom of the door due to rotting away. There was a sad attempt at a vegetable garden that more resembled a small cage made of chicken wire and wood steaks. The lock that used to be there had rusted to the point of uselessness. Looking out into the backyard Shauna wondered how she survived there for as long as she did. There was a giant ring stain on the ground for where a pool had once been set up. She got shivers as she walked over to it remembering the time her father had held her nearly drowned her the night of her eighth grade graduation.
She walked over to the shed and the door creaked as it swung open with some effort. The hinges must have been as rusted as the lock. She took a deep breath seeing the implements of her childhood. A shovel that her father often had her use to dig holes with and then threw her into for hours in the summer months; a tennis racket that often doubled as a paddle; power cords with frayed edges used for whippings; and the rest of the torturous devices. She knocked over an empty gallon wine bottle as she turned to walk out and jumped, half expecting him to catch her in his liar. She looked up and shrieked at the shadow of a male figure. When her eyes focused she saw it was her husband. She hugged him tight and didn’t explain why she had been so frightened.
Her father had been diagnosed with cancer several years ago. He had recently been discharged against medical advice and said he wanted to die at home. A social worker had reached out to Shauna on behalf of her father. When Shauna had arrived he had been asleep so she wanted to see if anything had changed, and the yard was just the way she remembered it. Her husband informed her that her father had woken up.
Shauna entered into the dining room that had now been converted into a bedroom. The hospice nurse had just completed bathing him. She tilted her head to the side at the sight before her. Her father was a solid man in her memory. He had been a stout bronze man with a killer temper and a stench of whiskey or wine. Lying in the bed was a skeletal yellowish man with no teeth or hair. She sat by his bedside in a chair angled to be in his sight line. A bag hung down filling with his urine and she tried not disturb it. The man coughed slightly and then opened his eyes turning toward her. She remembered his dark almond eyes to be filled with rage and hate, at that time they were filled with remorse and pain.
She told herself that a decent person would take his hand. She told herself that he was now experiencing the agony he put her through and the world was balanced again. However, she could not bring herself to touch him. For a while they just stared at each other. His mouth hung wide open while an oxygen tube sprayed oxygen into his nose and he coughed an unproductive cough, revealing that he was completely weak. Her husband came up behind her and rubbed her shoulders. He gave her some re-assuring words that her father could hear her if she wanted to say something to him. She nodded and asked to be left alone with him.
“I suppose the right thing to do is to tell you I love you,” she said to the skeleton before her. “I don’t think I can say that to you.” His mouth opened and closed a bit. She noticed that it was dry and brought a moist sponge to his lips. “You are an evil hateful man.” She put the sponge back into the cup of water, “Or well I guess I should say that you WERE an evil hateful man. Now, look at you. Let’s see you hold me under water now.” Tears filled her eyes and she wiped them away, “What did I do to you? What did I do that was so wrong?”
The eyes of the skeleton before her were vacant and were looking through her. The mouth again moved, but no sound came out. His hand raised and waved through the air weakly.
She stood up and glared down at him, “If there were any justice in this universe you would be like this for another ten years!” Her fear for him had faded and replaced with anger, “I hope that you experience as much pain as you put me through!” She rose from the chair and walked out of the room without looking back at him. She told her husband she was ready to go.
She got the call that night that her father had passed. With his will was a letter addressed just to her written in his hand writing. The lawyer explained that he had written it in the last days of his lucidity. She didn’t open it for several days. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know his final words. She wasn’t sure they would have much meaning. A week after he had died she opened the letter. Three words were written on the paper: “I am sorry.” She stared at the letter for a few moments before crumpling it and throwing it in the waste paper basket. She pitied her more than she ever had at that moment. He finally had told her what she wanted to hear his entire life, and unfortunately he was too much of a coward to tell her that while he was alive. She could not rebuild a relationship with a dead man, so at that point, what was the point of an apology?Copyright 2009 JerseyGirl3030. All rights reserved. FifteenMinutesOfFiction.com has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.
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