The Truth About Marlow - Excerpt From a Novel in Progress
Marlow Hunter looked down at her father’s frail form in the hospital bed. His eyes were rheumy, his dark skin sallow and gray. Although she was not crying at the moment, this was only temporary. Inside, she felt a hollowness that was causing her physical pain and her throat felt as though it was closing. Her father was dying, and she could no longer deny this fact.
With a weakened grip, he held her hand.
“Marlow, my sweet girl,” his voice was smooth and his hand steady, defying his condition, “One thing you must do. One thing you must promise me. Please continue to take your medicine.” He gently, weakly squeezed her hand in his. She could only nod her affirmative response.
“Good girl, Marlow. Good girl,” His words were suddenly interrupted by a deep cough, and Marlow could not help but cringe at the sound. He turned back to her. “Always see Alfred for your refills. Do not forget.” He was looking into her eyes at this point, a pleading look in his own. “Always get them. Make sure you do.” He pulled his hand away from her and struggled to get something out of his pillow case, which he promptly placed in her hand. “Do not stop taking them.” He managed to smile lovingly at her as he leaned back into his pillow. Marlow did not open the envelope she had been handed, time was too precious at this point. She nodded at him, fighting back the tears. He began coughing then, his entire body seemed to shake with the coughing, his eyes were running, he could hardly catch his breath. Warm tears streamed freely down Marlow’s young cheek as she watched in terror as her father fought off the attack and she felt like it took forever for him to gain control of the coughing. Eventually he did, though, and he once again turned to his daughter.
“You are very special, my Marlow. You were made to be special. This world needs you. Remember that.” His voice was near a whisper, and Marlow closed her eyes. She tried to tell herself this was all a bad dream, but she knew that it was not. Hearing her father’s struggling breathing, she forced herself to open her eyes, to continue to see him in life. He raised his hand to her check, and gently wiped away her tears.
“These stories are not true,” she cried softly, “They cannot be true.”
“Marlow, you will come to understand the truth. You will be the truth in due time.” His speaking was abruptly cut off by another burst of coughing, and Marlow watched in horror as his face changed to purple. He recovered quickly enough though, and Marlow brought a moistened sponge to his lips to help him get some water. He smiled at her, and then fell into a sleep. Marlow marveled that he could speak with such strength and passion despite his illness. He looked so weak, yet his words had been so strong.
She thought of his words as she watched the rise and fall of his chest while he slept. ‘I am the truth.’ She thought. She did not understand at all why he would say that. She put down the sponge and then reached into her bag, bringing out a prescription bottle filled with small white capsules. She turned the bottle around in her hands, it was quite generic, and she really did not know what the pills contained. What she did know was that these pills kept her migraines away, which also kept the bad dreams at bay. She knew this would be an easy promise to keep, especially since this seemed so important to her father.