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cathlene m smith

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60 Seconds
By cathlene m smith
Friday, September 07, 2007

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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a semi-autobiographical tale, the combinaton of my father and father-in-law's deaths and their effect on me.

60 Seconds

My heart beat furiously in my chest. I could feel it pulsate through my shirt. The August sun poured through the tiny windows, illuminating the mint green walls. I tried to close the slats of the blinds. I wanted darkness, not brilliance.

They said it wouldn't be long. Was that a good thing? Part of me wanted the clock to stand immobile, the other wanted time to race. I wanted to merge with summer and dance to its heat. Instead, I lurked in this dark mausoleum.

Impending doom penetrated the pastiness of the stoic walls. The sound of the beeps, pumps and forcing air stopped. There was only one machine on now. It stood sentinel, mocking me.

Laughter and voices floated through the corridors. I wanted to shriek, "My God! My father is dying in here!" The parade of life marched past, no "Amazing Grace." Death secluded itself in this minuscule cell.

45 Seconds

Dad's breath came in erratic rhythm. I wiped his face with a damp cloth and held a wet swab to his lips. My hand kept brushing his cheek, trying to arouse color. I selfishly wanted to keep him from nature's grandest and most unavoidable adventure. I needed him to stay until my baby was born. He'd promised. Six months ago, he walked me down the aisle and then told me he would wait until my boy arrived. Apologies promenaded into the dismal abyss.

"Daddy, you said you would stay! You son of a bitch! You promised to smell his sweetness, just once. Damn you for leaving me!" I felt the tears flooding my face, cascading to his chest and collecting in pools of brine. There was no reaction, only the forced breath in illogical pace.

I moved onto his bed, lying beside him. I cradled him, as he must have held me as a child. I stroked his hair and brushed a kiss on his forehead.

30 Seconds

Silence hung suspended, then a gulping gasp of life's breath. The nurse warned me of the last few shrugs the lungs would seize. She said it was the final phase; the end would engulf him soon.

My promises to him lay unfulfilled. I never finished college; an unexpected pregnancy and wedding ceremony postponed my schooling. I promised I would take care of my mother; her absence in the last year infuriated me. She couldn't stay till the end. Her boyfriend grew restless. Promises were plentiful - delivery, so few.

"Daddy, don't go! I love you so much, please forgive me!"

15 Seconds

Embracing his skeletal frame, I dared not leave him. I moved my body closer and tried to give him my heat. The baby kicked his side; he didn't notice. I loved him unconditionally. He knew that. He knew his human frailties had been disregarded by my heart. Is anyone really prepared for this moment?

5 Seconds

"I love you, Daddy. It's okay to go. Let your body rest and your spirit rise. Let it all go, Daddy! I will cherish you, always. My son will know you through my stories. I'll always carry you in my heart."

There was one gurgled sigh of air. Flat line.

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Reviewed by Art Sun 10/7/2007
You sshow us a time of passing that is so well expressed it grasp one and places one within your last 60 seconds...

nice work...

Art Sun...
Reviewed by Malcolm Watts 9/26/2007
Powerful prose in a short piece. I also wrote a story about my fathers death (also on a hot August day and I also was university age) Mine is a longer story called, Daddy. Malcolm Watts
Reviewed by Miriam Jacobs 9/9/2007

You said so much in this short heartfelt story. I was not by my father's side when he died and it haunted me for years. This was quite lovely.
One love,

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