Dec 14 2011

Promise (short-short story)

Published by at 12:02 am under Uncategorized

The line goes dead and I’m left staring at the phone in my hand. My mind goes blank and for a moment the world falls into silence. The news begins to sink in and suddenly the weight of reality slams into me, knocking the very breath out of my body. I don’t how long I’ve been standing there just staring but before I know it the universe snaps back into order and I am forced to shake myself out a dazed state. I stuff my cell into the front pocket of my jeans, grab my bike and race out of the skate park to the hospital where my mother was supposed to give birth.

“Hey Parker, where’re you going man? Parker!”

The voice keeps calling after me but I can’t be bothered to answer back. I can’t think of anything other than those words. Your mother died while delivering the baby. They bounce off against the walls of my head, pushing me to pedal faster until my legs fall off, like if I slow down she will take her last breath and quietly slip away; which is stupid because she’s already dead and nothing I do will change that fact. I guess my brain must still be processing the news; the doctors would say that I’m in a state of shock or denial or some shit like that. Hell yea, I’m in shock but if feels surreal more than anything else. I play the words in my mind endlessly trying to make sense out of them but it’s like nothing in my head clicks together. Without realizing it though, the haze beings to lift and suddenly the combinations of the letters and the words are crystal clear but the meaning behind them just doesn’t register.

Up ahead, the hospital comes into view, pulling me out of my thoughts. I quickly close the remaining distance and then hurriedly park my bike at the gate. As I start to walk, a burning sensation spreads through my legs but I still manage to run to the entrance of the hospital. The automatic double doors swoosh open and I’m instantly hit by the smell of pine sol and death. I rush to the nurses’ station but there’s no one here so I ring the bell on the desk to signal assistance but get no response. Frustrated, I ring the bell three more times, “where the fuck is everyone?”

“Parker.”

I turn around and come face-to-face with the Dr. Greene, my mom’s physician during her pregnancy. “I’m sorry; we did everything we could to save her,” she says to me. She’s looking at me, and I can tell that she’s waiting for some sort of response or acknowledgment but I don’t know how to react so I give a slight nod just to satisfy her. She lets out a small sigh and tells me to follow her so I can see my ma one last time.

She leads me down to the end of the hallway, at the corner she takes a right and I follow in silence. It’s not the awkward kind of silence you see in movies or read about in books but I ‘m still grateful for the steady rhythm of the heart monitors hailing from some of the rooms for filling up the silence. Beep…beep…beep. It might be annoying to some but the consistency of the sound keeps my mind from wondering off and getting lost in my tangled thoughts, it’s the only thing keeping me rooted in reality right now.

We make a left turn at the next corner and for the first time since we began this little journey I notice my surroundings. Some of the patients are roaming the hospital, probably getting their daily dose of exercise; others are in their rooms either sleeping or moaning for a nurse. The doctors are consulting each other and the nurses stride up and the down the hospital. Five minutes later we are standing outside a room, Dr. Greene pushes the door open and I walk inside. Ma is lying on the bed with a yellow sheet covering her entire body and face. I proceed toward the bed and slowly pull off the sheet. She’s pale but other than that it looks like she’s just sleeping and any minute she’ll open her eyes and smile at me. Only she doesn’t. Her skin is starting to lose its warmth and I know that this is it. She is gone and I have no idea who the child’s biological father is – ma had secrets of her own, secrets that she took to the grave. Silently, I tell her goodbye and start to cross room.

“Don’t you want to see your brother?” Dr. Greene asks me in a quiet voice.

“He’s not my responsibility,” I answer her and walk out of the room.

I get on my bike and start pedaling. I don’t where I’m going but I don’t slow down for anything. Ma is dead so now it’s just me. I never knew my dad; he walked out on us when I was a baby, so it was always just me and her. I swore I’d never be like my father, that I’d never abandon my own kid. That baby may not be my child but he is my brother and I’m deserting him, like my father once deserted me. God, I’m just like him, scum of the earth. Well SCREW YOU dad! You weren’t man enough to stick around; the kid’s old man was a piece of shit as well. But I’m not like either one of you. I’m the only family he has so I’m not leaving him, there’s no way I’ll allow my little brother to go through the hell of foster care. I’m not 18 yet so I know there’s a fat chance that any adult in that damn hospital will sign him out to me but he’s gonna be with me, I’m not gonna hand him over to anyone. That’s a promise.

 

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