Short story I finished a few days ago. Not sure if I’m going to add more to it.
One week after her 23 birthday, she stood broken and looking over her father’s casket.
At the alter she shared a story with everyone. Like so many of their stories, her father was always the hero.
“I was 10 or so when my dad took me to the Taos gorge. It was a bridge and to my eyes nothing more than that. After my dad’s failed attempts of sparking my curiosity, we started walking back towards the car. I wanted to pick the next set of music so I took off ahead. I remember looking back and seeing him. I felt like I was yards and yards in front. Well, as I looked forward I saw a car that was right about to hit me. I remember freezing. I thought I was a goner. But then I felt a tug on my shirt. Dad was was pulling her back just as the car would of hit me. That happened allot with my dad. He was always there at the right moment.”
She could recall dozens of stories just like that when her father appeared out of nowhere. He was her superman countless times through out her life. And now she was standing above him His body lost the fight quickly to the massive heart attack.
She didn’t remember how she ended up in bed, dressed down, hair in a bun and teeth feeling freshly brushed. It’s been a haze since he left. She had been laying in bed for what seemed forever. Sleep was pointless. As soon as she closed her eyes she would see him again. See his tender smile. Feel his tight, warm hugs. But she was exhausted. Two weeks of very little sleep and food had taken it’s toll. She felt weak. She closed her eyes and hoped for rest.
The room felt cold. She was fully dressed but didn’t remember how. She walked out towards the living room and saw her father sitting at his desk, typing away. Her pulse started racing, she couldn’t tell if it was a dream or reality. She walked up to him slowly, as if afraid of moving too quickly and disrupting this wonderful moment. She could hear him breathing! She could smell his scent of coffee and mints! Holding all her excitement back she leapt forward racing for him, squeezing him around his neck, forcing them both to fall to the ground. Sobbing silently, she felt him squeeze her back sending her in to an almost euphoric hysteria.
“Hey there baby girl. Shhhh, it’s ok mija.”
“I love you daddy! I love you! I love you do much!” Please don’t ever leave me again. Please don’t ever go!”
“Baby girl, hey calm down honey. I’m here miss. I’m right here hugging you. It’s ok baby.”
“I know it’s not. I know your really gone. I know this is just something my mind is creating. Some type of survival to help me get through this. But I don’t care because right now I have my dad back and I’m not letting you go.”
“This maybe a dream mija, but it’s reality in your dream. Look at me baby. Shhh, now look at me baby.”
She hesitated to pull away for a monument. She didn’t want to destroy this monument she was creating. Slowly she wiped her tears and looked up.
“Mija, your right. I am gone. ”
“I should of taken you to the doctor when you started to complain about having shortness of breath,” she interrupted.
“I’m so sorry dad. I should have been there with you. I should have dropped everything and forced you to go to the doctor.”
“Hey now”, he said in his tone. The tone he would use to get her attention. The tone he would speak in when she did something she shouldn’t have. The tone that was always able to snap her out of whatever mind-set she was in.
“This happened because it had to happen. You couldn’t have stopped this. I chose this and I chose it thankfully. This was my doing.”
“What do you mean dad?”, she asked puzzled. “What are you saying?”
“Baby, what I’m about tell you is something I’ve never told anyone. And since it only concerns you, well it’s fitting that you should be the first and only one I say it to”.
When you were 5 months and 13 days old, I had a visit. Well actually, you had a visitor. As I was rocking you to bed there was a knock at the door. Before I could get up to answer it I remember a cold gust coming into the room. I looked towards the window to see if it was open but it was shut. And at that moment I realized there was a man standing in the middle of the room if front of us. He was dressed in a dark blue suit. He had while hair and round thin glasses. I remember not feeling afraid. It was all very calm.
He spoke very softly in an accent that I didn’t recognize. He said that he was death and he was there for you. That even though you had just arrived into this world, it was your time to leave. He said that he had been watching me for the past few days. Watching how I cared for you, how I protected you. He wanted to tell me that I reminded him, that we reminded him of what love was. He said that he was sorry but it was your time.
I started screaming and yelling that he couldn’t take you. That to please take me instead.
He said couldn’t.
That death didn’t work that way. That to sacrifice a life for a life there has to be a greater sacrifice. I pleaded with him for what seemed hours. And through it all, you slept silently in my arms. I looked down towards you and held you so tightly. I screamed,
“I’ll suffer, sacrifice, do whatever it takes to allow you to let her live”. He looked at me calmly.
His eyes never seemed to blink or look away. He said, in almost whisper,
“to allow her to stay means to push-off what is meant to happen. For every cycle a child must be taken for no other reason that it’s his or her time. To push what is meant to be for your daughter means to avoid death, means to bring death closer to you. Understand that time and death go hand in hand. That for two years of her life means the payment of two of yours. That for her to survive means for you to allow your time to come closer.”
“Why not just take me now. My life for hers.”
“I’m sorry my son but it doesn’t work that way. We all have a predestined amount of time that starts withering away the moment we take out first breath. For some it’s faster, less for others. You have a very long life ahead of you. You are one of the lucky ones. ”
“I don’t care about my time or the cost. Just allow her to live.”
“I can’t allow anything for its times decision. Remember this. The moment your aware of time you no longer are a slave to it. You can’t alter or run away from it. Its your destiny. You simply speed it up.”
Then suddenly you awoke with a scream! I had never been so thankful to hear you scream. And as I looked up from you I realized he was gone.
But soon after I realized that I was still to pay a price. A price that taught me so much more about love. A year later you grew very sick. The doctors told us to prepare for the worst. I prayed and screamed for death, demanded for him to appear again. But he never did. And on the night of Oct 5 we lost you to the infection. That was a horrible night. I stayed awake in bed recalling what death had said to me, that to keep you here I had to give myself, my time. Then I realized that to bring you back I had to give you my time, shave off my time to add it to yours.
So I imagined myself in the hospital right after you passed. I imagined pushing time as if it was a strong wind. Things started being pushed back. The nurses walked backwards out the door, doctors that rushed in were now just as quickly waking out. Moments before you left me, I was holding you again. But this time you pulled through. They called it a miracle.
It happened several times after that. I’ve lost you dozens of times and each time not knowing if I would be able to bring you back. Not knowing if I could trade my time for yours. But I did till my time was used. Till it was my turn.
“Oh daddy, why?”
“Why? Because you taught me more about life and love in these short 23 years than I would have ever learned in a long life without
you. Because I wanted you to experience this world. I wanted you to feel its beauty and horror. I wanted you to live. I would do it again without any hesitation. Because your my baby. That’s why.”
I felt him hug me, my eyes closed from the tears just running down my face. I felt my father for one last moment kiss my head before I awoke in my bed with my pillow wet from my cries.
I miss you daddy, thank you.