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An Attempt at a Story- Feel Free to Comment and Critique
I began writing this story several days ago and have not edited or proofread it hardly at all. This is a very rough beginning to a story that I'd eventually like to publish and I am not close to being finished. I just figured that there are many great writers on Hubpages and I look forward to any kind of constructive criticism given. Thanks so much.
P.S. This story has some truth to it, but is mainly fiction.
My Memories with Him
The old man that lay in the bed before me was nearly unrecognizable and his breathing was labored. This man was my father. Previously, he had been an athletic man who loved watching football, playing chess, and taking care of me and my brother, Sean. Now he was shriveled, the marks of age and time written across every feature. He had many stories, yes, but most of them he kept to himself. My father was outgoing and had many friends, but only a few knew who he really was.
It was a sad matter--him dying. Only a few people had visited him on his death bed, me being one of them. My brother had not seen my father in years, after they had a quarrel over some childhood event that took place eras ago.
So, my brother stayed away, swearing that he felt too guilty to be seen by his father after arguing over something so petty. He did not want forgiveness, he'd said, he just wanted to forget.
We'd grown up in the North, hating the snow by the time we had aged into adults. Dad always said that we would. It was the nasty white stuff that clogged every pore and got deep into every piece of clothing we wore. It was inescapable. So, I moved to the South the first chance I got, leaving my parents to live in our childhood home. Eventually, though, they came, too. It had gotten too cold for them and it was healthier for my father to be living someplace warmer.
When I was a child, my mother had told me that dad had heart problems. It was as simple as that and us kids didn't ask any questions. Dad was a sick man ever since he was born and I didn't need to know more. But as I got older, my dad got more and more sick. He was in the hospital almost every day it seemed. I hardly ever saw him.
When he started to feel better and the doctors said he could come home from the hospital, I was already into college. We celebrated dad's coming home, but it was not long lasted. I had to go back to school and my brother still had to work on graduating high school.
I gave birth to my first child before the doctors found the tumor. I decided to call my new, baby boy Liam, my father's name, before I even knew that he was back in the hospital. It was a miracle and a tragedy all in one day.
. . .
"Dad? Mom!" I called as I raced into the emergency room. My dad was in the second room on the right, breathing heavily, and hooked up to a million tubes.
"Honey, you made it." My mother said, smiling. It was a sad smile, but a smile nonetheless. Her chestnut brown hair was in a messy up-do and she wore her pajamas. I reminded myself of the late hour and rushed over to the bed where my father lay.
"Why didn't they find this before, mom?" I asked, frantically trying to figure out what was going on.
"They're not sure, honey. The doctors weren't sure why the tests didn't show this developing tumor. No one expected something this critical. We all thought he just had heart problems." My mother was trying to convince herself that this chaotic event was just another one of dad's check-ups that hardly ever resulted in tests coming up positive.
"What's the diagnosis? What's going on?" I asked, my nervousness palpable.
"The doctors will know, darling. The doctors will tell us."
"But it could be a big deal, mom. Dad might not make it. Is that the case? Dad can't die. He can't." I rationalized with myself. My mom froze at my obvious conclusion.
"Oh no, honey! We found him just in time! He'll be perfectly fine. We'll just have to be extra careful next time." My mom nodded, putting on that fake smile again.
I replayed those words in my head: We'll just have to be extra careful next time. Next time. It was a repeat of the years past. Dad was sick and he'd never be completely healthy again. He would die eventually, whether it was now, in six years, or in ten. We couldn't save him every time something went wrong.
The doctor walked in with a clipboard and a pen in his hands. He was young, probably early thirties, with lush, brown hair and clear skin. He looked like he was on a mission.
"Mrs. Carter?" He asked and my mother answered quickly.
"I just have a few questions for you. When did you start seeing symptoms of the tumor in your husband?"
"Um," my mother breathed. "Probably a month ago. I didn't realize it then, but he hasn't been eating much ever since we visited my cousin Bertha at her lake house in Michigan." She turned to me then. "You remember that, honey, right? Bertha's lake house?"
"Yeah, mom." I nodded. "Keep telling him about dad."
"Oh, yes." She nodded. "I guess after that, it would be last night. My husband had a raging fever and it was sudden. And again today, he was extremely hot and sweating up a storm. When he fainted, I called the hospital."
"Thank you, ma'am." The doctor said, nodding. He scratched a few words onto his clipboard and then continued to ask my mother questions.
"Was your husband taking any kind of medications recently?"
I couldn't hear them after that. I was standing at the end of the hospital cot, staring at the old man in the bed. His face was wrinkled and sweaty, his hands shaking slightly. I reached over and grasped one of his hands. It was hot and clammy, yet ultimately lifeless. My father's face was smooth and peaceful, reminding me of this one time when I was a kid.
. . .
"Dad!" I shouted.
"What? What? Quiet down, little one. Your Papa's trying to sleep." My dad was laying on the couch and I sat on the ground next to him, holding a chess board.
"Dad," I whispered. "Play a game with me."
"This will be the fourth time! Let me sleep now, honey."
So I sat and watched him close his eyes. His breathing slowed and grew louder. When his chest began to rise and fall dramatically with sleep, I placed the chess board on his stomach. When he slept on, I stood up and crossed my arms behind my back and watched his face. His skin was smooth and his wrinkles were prominent. I had never seen him so peaceful and it was a privilege to be able to join him in his paradise.
I leaned over and pressed my hands onto his cheeks, smoothing the skin there. I turned his lips upward and involuntarily, he smiled a crooked smile.
"Daddy, you look like a sleeping beauty." I whispered in his ear and then he awoke. He was laughing then and I could hear my mother laughing in the other room, too. She had been watching me watch him.
I had only been a child, so he scooped me up and tossed me in the air, tickling me and teasing me until I could not stand it any longer.
But now, as my father lay still, sleeping on that cot, I couldn't help but cry.
. . .
As I sat in the hospital room next to my father, I recalled that one time - the first time I had ever gotten a speeding ticket. I remembered how I slowly pulled off of the road, my hands shaking as I turned the wheel.
The officer walked up to my window and asked for my license and insurance papers. I could hardly talk. My shaking fingers frantically searched the car for my insurance papers after I handed the officer my drivers license. At first, I couldn't find my proof of insurance and so I started to sweat.
"Do you not have proof of insurance?" The officer asked, a little incredulous. She raised an eyebrow and stared at me.
"No, I do." I shook my head. "I do. It's here somewhere."
I found a GEICO card in the glove box and then handed it to the officer. She eyeballed it and then looked back at me.
"It's old, but I'll go and write everything up." She turned to walk to her car and then stopped. "You can look for a more recent insurance card, but stay in your vehicle."
I nodded and searched the car again, crazy-like. I tore the backseat apart, grabbing street maps and flipping through them, even though I knew I wouldn't find anything hidden between the pages.
I kept peering over the backseat through the cheaply tinted windows. The officer was typing on a computer, probably checking to see if I'd committed any other crimes lately. I hadn't, so I knew there wouldn't be anything for her to find. But this didn't keep my pulse from speeding up or my breath from rapidly accelerating.
I became aware of the fact that now, I was a criminal. The drivers who passed my idled car were probably figuring that I had done something wrong. They might even recognize my face as they passed. This made me self-conscious and so I avoided looking out my window as much as possible. I kept my head down and either stared at my knees or kept pretending to look for my missing insurance card.
The officer walked back up to my window and showed me a piece of paper that she held in her hand.
"You can either pay for the ticket, take this whole situation to court, or you can take a drivers improvement course and you won't have to pay for the ticket."
I nodded. "So, if I choose the third option, I won't have to pay and I won't receive any points on my license?"
"Okay, thank you." I smiled at her, trying my best to look like I wasn't about to start crying.
The officer returned my license and my insurance card. "I won't charge you for not having an updated proof of insurance."
"Okay." I was relieved and briefly wondered how much that would have cost.
The officer returned to her vehicle and I slowly started mine. As I drove away, I watched my speed and watched the trooper through my rear view mirror. I arrived at my brother's school, where I had been heading in the first place, and pulled into the parking spot. I turned off the car and reached across the seat for the speeding ticket. I ran my fingers over the paper, making sure this was all real. The paper was really there, so I sighed and dialed my dad's number on my phone.
"Hello?" He answered almost immediately.
"I have something to tell you." I pulled the phone away from my mouth so that he wouldn't hear me choke down my guilt.
"I just got a speeding ticket, dad."
He was silent for a long time, long enough for me to want to ask if he was still on the line.
"Okay. How fast were you going?"
"Sixty-one in a forty-five."
He sighed loudly. "So, you were almost going twenty over?"
"Why were you speeding? You weren't in a hurry." My dad mumbled and then stopped talking for a moment. "Pick up your brother and then come home. You're not in trouble, but I just want you home."
"Okay." I whispered.
"I'm glad you called. I would rather know about this rather than have you hide it from me."
I held back my tears and whispered, "okay." Then my dad said goodbye and that he loved me. And then he hung up.
I sat in that hospital room for ages, it seemed. I began to notice the small details that made the room original. The lime green wallpaper stood out the most, accenting the ugly, pink walls. Two pictures were hung on the wall: one a professionally-taken photograph of a kingfisher carrying a fish to land, the other a watercolor painting of a beach at sunset. The colors seemed to spill out of the frame, cascading onto the hospital walls, attempting to create an atmosphere of happiness and of hope.
There was one window on the wall opposite to the door. The view was rather dull: a parking lot full of cars. I could imagine the heat radiating from the smooth black top and so I looked away.
"I like it." I heard. Dad had woken up, probably for only a short amount of time.
"What?" I asked him, leaning closer to hear his small voice.
"I like it. The view."
I smiled, wondering if he could tell that I had been thinking the opposite.
"Dad, it's the parking lot. The view can't possibly get any worse than that." I laughed, lightly.
He scrunched up his eyebrows and shook his head. "Parking lot? Oh, no."
"Can't you see it?" I asked.
"Come down here and see for yourself."
Confused, I knelt down on the ground beside him, getting down to his level. I tried to see what he saw.
"Can't you see it?" He asked.
I saw the view through his eyes then. His cot was positioned too low for him to see the parking lot, so all he could see was the beautifully vast, blue sky, extending for miles before him. Clouds floated by, drifting along.
Birds flew to and fro, calling their mates and their young ones, searching for nuts and berries. Every now and then, one would land on the window sill and teeter around, looking back through the window at us.
"I like it better than the pictures on the wall." Dad mumbled.
"It's like your own painting." I gestured to the window.
"But mine's alive and changing all the time. The colors change and the sounds change. You can't capture that kind of beauty in a painting."
"You're right." I agreed, seating myself again in the chair next to him.
We both waited in silence for a while, maybe waiting for the other to come up with something to say, or maybe for one to have an epiphany about times past, but neither of us spoke.