I have a new short story available. I’ve submitted it to the Show Off Writing Contest: Spring Edition, so I can’t post it here (at least not until I find out whether I’ve won—if I lose I’ll post it here). In the meantime, you can read it here.
If you enjoyed it, please consider liking it or leaving a comment on the contest page. It might not count for much in the judging, but it doesn’t hurt 8^)
Update: I lost. Not particularly surprising since I’m so new at this. The announcement is here. Now I can post the story here .
Please leave your feedback/critique in a comment.
A New Beginning
It’s spring. A time of rebirth. Of new beginnings.
The sun shines with real warmth. Not the cold, heartless sun of winter, too stingy to give any heat, or to stay in the sky for more than a few hours.
The ground thaws. The first flowers begin to poke up, reaching toward the sun. The trees come back to life, buds appearing on their branches. The songbirds return, filling the air with their chirping. The world begins to transform, the brown and white of winter supplanted by the green leaves and grass and the rainbow colours of the flowers.
People awaken from their hibernation. Children laugh as they splash in puddles, while their parents putter about in their lawns and gardens. Winter boots and coats are packed away. Everyone seems happier and full of energy.
This is my favourite time of year. All too soon the hot summer days will be here, when we’ll wish for cooler weather. But right now we enjoy the growing warmth of the longer days.
I ponder these things as I stare out the window, lost in thought. Suddenly my attention is drawn back to where I am. I hear the most disturbing sound, like someone having trouble breathing.
“That’s the death rattle you hear. He doesn’t have much time left now. But don’t worry, he can’t feel anything at this point.”
I turn to the voice. A nurse had come into the room unnoticed. “Thanks.”
“Are you okay?” she asks.
What can I say? How can I explain my conflicted feelings? I’m not even sure why I’m here. I just shrug my shoulders. She nods understandingly, then goes about her duties and leaves.
It’s quiet, the only sound his ragged breathing, the hiss of the oxygen mask, and the steady beeping of the heart monitor. The room smells of rubbing alcohol and bleach, with hints of various unpleasant bodily odours. The smell of disease and death.
He looks so frail, so small, lying there. So harmless. I can’t reconcile this with my memories of him. How can this be the same man, the one who made my life a living hell?
Suddenly I’m back there! He’s towering over me, screaming at me. My heart pounds. I can’t breath! I can’t move! I’m paralyzed with fear. I lose control of my bladder. I can’t hear what he’s saying through the rushing noise in my ears. I see his face turning red. He hits me! I stagger backward. He keeps coming at me. Time seems to stop. Then everything shifts. It’s like I’m watching a movie, seeing this happen to someone else. I cry for the little boy, unable to help him. Why won’t anyone help him?
The images begin to recede, like I’m being drawn down a long, dark hallway. Then I’m back in the hospital room. I find myself cowering in the corner, clutching at the walls. I realize I’m hyperventilating. I cup my hands over my mouth, forcing myself to take slower, deeper breaths. My heart rate starts to return to normal. I wipe my forehead. I’m drenched in sweat, but I’m shivering. I sit in the corner, feeling the comforting cold of the floor beneath me. I’m still shaking, but finally I feel able to stand again.
I hear a steady high-pitched whine. I realize it’s been going on for… how long? A few seconds? A few minutes? I can’t tell. My sense of time is distorted.
A nurse rushes to the side of the bed. She feels for a pulse. She pulls off the oxygen mask and listens for a breath. She shakes her head. A doctor arrives. He listens with his stethoscope for what seems a long time, but must really only be a few seconds. He looks over at the heart monitor. He checks his watch.
“Time of death 2:38pm.”
He reaches over and turns off the heart monitor. The nurse turns off the flow of oxygen, removes the mask, then makes a note on the chart at the end of the bed. Other people arrive and go about their business. Someone pulls the sheet over his face.
I wander out of the room and down the hallway in a daze. Emotions flood through me. Part of me mourns. Despite everything, I still loved him. He was my father. But part of me rejoices. I’m no longer in danger. The monster is dead.
I wander outside into the warm, sunny spring day. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face. This is my new beginning.