Happy Saturday everyone! Today’s post is from a piece I worked on while at my creative writing program at NYU. I waited this long to share it with you all because I wanted to post it on the anniversary of the event. This is the most important piece I’ve written so far in my short little life so I’m only going to post an excerpt. Mainly because I still want to work on it, but also because I would like to submit it to a literary magazine to be published 🙂
I see him lying there. Perfectly still under a white sheet. From afar, it looks like he could be sleeping. The beeping machine chained to him for days is finally silent. The tubes pumping life into his emaciated frame, removed. The sun’s rays cast shadows upon the harsh landscape of his face and I am surprised by how familiar he still looks. I had imagined that once he died, a magical transformation would take place and his body would be replaced by a look alike, a stand-in. But there is no mistaking. This is the body of my dad. But this is not the body of the man I want to remember.
Not the body of the man who spent summer afternoons throwing pitches for me to hit even though I missed nine out of ten times. Who held my hand when I cried about missing my mom. Who sat beside me in bed while I read aloud about the Boxcar Children.
The usual flush in his cheeks has drained. All laughter has been extinguished behind his eyes and they stare, naked and blue, at the fluorescent light on the ceiling that no one has turned on. His lips are chapped and slightly parted, waiting for a drop of water that will never drip. The white sheet does not rise.
Between my fingers, I grasp the white cotton and raise it, peering at what lies beneath. Tentatively, I wrap my fingers around his forearm where his sleeve has been rolled up. A coldness transfers from his skin to mine and courses through my body. But I do not let go.
I want to be original but instead, quickly and quietly say all the generic things that living people say to dead people. About how sorry I am that this happened and how I don’t know how I’ll go on, but I will. I tell him he is my hero. I tell him I love him.
But I want my old life back, when things could be reversed. When you made a mistake on a test and could erase it. When you got into a fight and could apologize. When your heart could break and it would heal.
Standing, I gently kiss him on the top of his cold and bare head. Three last words escape my lips and when I let go of his arm, I notice I’ve left an indentation in his skin.