Short Story: An Impossible Reunion

Written for Cat’s latest Writer’s Plot challenge.

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An Impossible Reunion

 

I’ll just close my eyes and whisper, “It’s okay, it’s time for me to go now.”

My bare toes gripped the edge of the chair. They were the only thing keeping me from seeing her again. I tugged at the rope around my neck. It felt tight, coarse. It cut into me. It made it difficult to breathe. I saw visions of people, of her. My toes uncurled and I took the step.

She smiled at me as I chased after her along the beach, kicking up sand with every stride. I caught up to her and wrestled her to the ground. I waited half a moment, gazing into her eyes; pools of deep sea green, before diving in and passionately kissing her. A sharp pain shot through my tongue and I pulled away. Her supple skin gone. Underneath, the bleached bone of a screaming skull. The skull held half my tongue between its teeth. I tried to yell but I couldn’t make a sound.

Back to the room I went. The walls caved inwards. Books flew at me from all directions. I heard laughing followed by shouting, then hands on me. The rope broke free and I toppled to the floor. For a second I swore it was her standing over me, but as my blurry vision subsided I recognised the face; my daughter Penelope. Next to her brandishing a pocket knife and a cut piece of rope stood her husband Harvey, along with that ridiculous head of curly hair.

“Dad, are you okay?” Penelope gripped my shoulders.

I shook her off and struggled to my feet. I propped myself up by the reading chair. “I saw her.”

“Dad, this is absurd. You won’t see her again if you do this.”

“What choice do I have?”

“Life, Dad. You have the choice of life.”

I looked at the younger version of her in a blue polka dot dress and hair in a bun. She had tears in her eyes ready to fall. The resemblance was uncanny.

“Girl, I’ve read every book in this place,” I said, waving at the shelves of books lining every wall. “I’ve lived experiences, vast and incredible. She was the one thing I couldn’t find in a book. There’s nothing left for me now.”

Harvey looked busy punching numbers into his cell phone.

“Excuse me chap. Who are you calling?” I asked.

“The hospital,” he replied, putting the phone to his ear.

“I’m fine.”

“You were about to kill yourself,” said Penelope.

“And I would have to, if you hadn’t busted in here, and taken away whatever dignity I had left.”

“This isn’t dignified Dad. There is no honour in this.”

I navigated around the reading chair and found my scrawled letter under a flickering candle. I blew out the candle and tugged out the letter. Penelope reached out to take it, but I crumpled it into a ball and threw it across the room. It didn’t go far. Harvey was still on the phone, giving over the address.

“Don’t let them take me,” I whispered into her ear. “I don’t want to go.”

Penelope snapped back. “What else would you have us do Dad, huh? Leave you alone so you can try again?”

“I don’t want to go to the hospital. Take me with you.”

Penelope’s face fell. This wasn’t easy for her. I felt terrible for hurting her in this way, but this was something I had to do.

“You will stay with me and Harvey then, for a little while, until you feel better?”

I looked at Harvey and his stupid curly hair. “Yes, even him.”

Penelope took Harvey to the side and explained the situation. He didn’t look too happy at the proposed arrangement.

“We have to go now,” said Penelope, tugging at my arm. “The ambulance is on its way.”

I followed Penelope out of the library and into the wide hallway adorned by beach landscapes dotted with her initials. How she loved that bloody beach.

“I’ll run to the bathroom and get your medicine. We have clean sheets on the spare bed. I can come back for your clothes later tonight,” said Penelope.

She disappeared upstairs before I could object.

Harvey stood in the doorway with a forced smile. “Right, follow me to the car,” he said.

Reluctantly I trudged after him and climbed into the backseat of their Daihatsu Feroza. Harvey took the driver’s seat and Penelope soon arrived clutching a medicine bag. We sped off from the driveway. I watched as our house disappeared from view and I could begin to hear a distant wailing of sirens.

“Penelope?” I asked.

“Yes Dad?”

“Could we stop by the beach first? Just for a while? There’s something I would like to see.”

In the rear view mirror I saw Penelope nod and smile. We changed course for the beach where once again I would be with her. I would sense her touch in the breeze, feel her warmth in the sun, and see her eyes in the ocean.

Our love reunited.

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