Guess what? My story “Remember” won the Iron Writer C196 2017 Summer Solstice Challenge! That means I’m advancing to the Tournament when it rolls around!
Elements: Remember by Harry Nilsson (whatever you take from it), A scorched map, A white lace handkerchief, Jasmine
by E. Chris Garrison
We sat by his bedside in the hospice, and I couldn’t bring myself to hold his hand. Laura did it for me, though I don’t think he noticed.
“Your dad looks stormy,” she said.
“Stormy? He’s in a coma.” My words came out more acidic than I intended.
Her soft look told me she understood. “Like he’s upset. Or trying to remember something.”
“Remember,” said my father, the word a papery whisper.
My wife and I drew in breath together. I pushed past Laura to be near his face. “What is it, Dad?”
His eyelids still closed, his lips twitched. “A place from long ago.”
Laura and I exchanged a glance. She asked, “Where is it, where are you?”
He let out a breath, deflating. I thought it was his last, but he filled his lungs with a deep breath and said, “Remember that pirate movie I took you to when you were a teen, kiddo?”
I smiled at the old endearment he’d called me for over forty years. “Yes, dad. Our favorite. The Goonies.”
He wheezed and barked a cough, and his eyes cracked open, though he stared unseeing at the ceiling. “Know how they found the treasure cave?”
Laura handed me her lace handkerchief. I wiped at tears I didn’t realize I’d shed, and said, “That old map, from the attic.”
A smile crinkled the corners of his eyes. “Wish I had that for you. Your ship come in, taken care of for life, kiddo.”
I still could not bring myself to reach out and touch him. The old man never was touchy-feely. “It isn’t like in the movies. I’ve made my own ship, I have my own treasure,” I said with a glance at my wife. “You taught me how, dad.”
Now his eyes fixed on Laura. “Yes. Yes, you have, kiddo. You’re both so pretty, you’re your own treasure.” He took in another breath, through his nose and breathed, “Jasmine. Like your mother used to wear.”
Laura laughed. “I know it’s her favorite. And yours.”
His eyes met mine, the soft light of the room gathered to two sharp infinitely brilliant points, and memories of those eyes looking at me in all emotions in all parts of my life came flooding through me, and I did reach out to touch his face with the tips of my fingers.
“Remember,” he said, arching an eyebrow.
The laugh, at his Trek reference at a time like this, escaped me, even as I dissolved into blubbery tears. “Really, dad?”
He nodded and waited.
“Of course I’ll remember, dad.”
He held my eyes with his, and the light went out of them, and the body on the bed wasn’t him anymore.
Laura held me, the scent of jasmine filling my world, bound to those memories welling up with the tears.
“I should have told him I love him,” I wailed into her soft shoulder.
Her fingers twined in my hair and she whispered in my ear, “You did, love. You did.”