The Dead Girls

Whoa there.  What was that?  A bite?

Gingerly he takes up the handle, applying his thumb and forefinger to the reel.  No reeling though: he doesn’t want to scare it off.  He must be patient and wait, just like Dad taught him to.

Dead.  Dead—father—dead.  The words don’t go together in his mind.  But it’s the truth.  Chris gave the order himself.  Memories: the living will, the wheeze of the ventilator, the beeps of the medical machines, the decree not to resuscitate. Life fading from his father’s eyes.

He shakes his head and mutters, “Jesus, Pop, didja have to be so stubborn?”

The darkness swallows his words, but the answer comes anyway, up from the dregs of his psyche, his father’s voice speaking in a dream, I had no other choice.  I watched your mother, my wife, wither away and go mad in that hospice, day after day, night after night, my heart breaking every time she forgot my name.  You know.  You were there.  You saw the long drawn out mess, the pain spasms, the incompetent doctors.  And in the end she died anyway.  So yes I had to draw up the living will.  I wasn’t going to suffer the same experience.

Chris sighs again.  He doesn’t know why he keeps replaying his father’s answer, fiddling with it, wanting it to make sense.  Because in all actuality it does make sense, if only he could let it go.





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