Chuck Wendig: One Last Day

This week’s Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge is The End of a Long Journey.  I tried to come up with a different idea but all I could think of was my mom and the last day we spent with her as a family.  It’s not fiction, but it’s all I got.


ONE LAST DAY

 

We sang.

We laughed.

We told stories and shared memories built up over all of our lifetimes.

She lay there in her bed, gently reclined so she could see out.  She was watching, listening, unable to speak but telling us with her eyes how much she loved seeing us all together again.  How special the day was.  How special we all were.

We had known this day was coming.  Since her diagnosis it had been inevitable that it would arrive.  It was just a matter of when.

“When” was today.

We gathered at the hospice center that morning, each of us arriving in our own time, coming in until we were all there.  We sat in the lobby until a counselor took us into a private room and told us what would be happening that day.

I wasn’t really listening.  Forgive me; I was a little distracted.  I knew they were going to disconnect her from the ventilator and then we were going to spend the day with her and show her how much we loved her and how much she meant to us.

They had us tell her good bye before they disconnected her.  They said there was a chance she wouldn’t survive it.  That was when we truly let her go, I think.  Tears fell like rain and we held each other when we weren’t holding her.  Finally we left the room.

She made it through with no problems, though.  In our hearts, we’d known she would.  She was always a fighter.  She always came through.

We spent hours with her that day, and our love and laughter ignited her spirit and she smiled and the sun came out from behind the clouds.  For the first time in months she was as she had been my entire life.  For the first time in months she was completely with us and we embraced her, physically and emotionally.  We gave her everything we had until it overflowed then she gave it back to us two, even three-fold.

It was one of the greatest days of my life.  It was a day I will never forget.

We said good bye to her again as we left, but it wasn’t final this time.  We’d told her that good bye earlier in the day.  This one just was just a regular good bye, a temporary one.  We’ll be back tomorrow, we said.  We’ll see you then.  We kissed her cheek and hugged her neck, and we told her we loved her.  She smiled out at us, making sure we knew that she returned the sentiment.

She slipped away from us just before my wife and I arrived back the next morning.  We gathered together again and we cried, but we’d told her good bye the day before.  She knew we loved her.  We had given her one last day of love and family and of all of us together.

She was gone, but she was still with us.  She is with us still, in our heads and in our hearts, and in our souls, where she will always live, strong and joyous and dancing up a storm.

 

Chuck Wendig: Jumper

This week’s Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge is One Word Titles.  Chuck provided ten words and said, pick one and use it as your title and give 1,000 words or less.  I chose “Jumper” and came up 930 words to go with it.  Not sure what it means, but here it is.  Please to enjoy, and feel free to comment and let me know what you think.


JUMPER

 

A young man stood on a basketball court in a gymnasium in Spain, on the right side of the court, just outside the three-point line.  There were ten seconds left in the game.  The clock was ticking down towards zeroes.  His team was behind by a single point.  He dribbled the ball, eyes scanning the defense as his teammates wove a complex offensive pattern, trying to find an open shot.   A defender crouched in front of him, hands up in classic defensive position.

Nothing was developing so he changed the play, holding up a fist.  He motioned to one of his teammates and the boy came over and set a pick, presenting an obstacle for the defender as the young man took three steps to his left.  His opponent got tangled up in the pick and was unable to follow, allowing the young man to break free and see the basket clearly.

He took a moment to gather himself and rose into the air, his right arm going up, the ball coming off his fingertips and arcing away towards the basket, carrying the winning points with it.  As it traveled, the buzzer sounded.  The game would be over when the ball reached the hoop.

 

In a flat in London, a recent university graduate awoke from a short nap and prepared to go out for a late night dinner.  Nothing fancy, but he was hungry.  He checked the outside temperature on his phone.  It was chilly out.  He’d need a jacket.

He looked around and found a couple of alternatives lying about but neither one appealed to him.  One was too sporty, the other a bit too posh.  He wasn’t feeling either of those this evening.  He wanted something a little more down to earth.

He remembered the package he’d gotten from his grandmother the week before and grinned.  Brilliant.  It would be warm and earthy, and Gran would be so pleased when she heard he’d worn it.  It was the perfect vibe for a casual evening.

He untucked his shirt, knowing it would heighten the effect, and opened the box on his dresser.  He ran his hands lovingly across the prickly wool, knowing that Gran had made it with her own hands.  How could he not wear it?  He slipped it over his head, heedless of the mess it made of his hair, and looped his bag over his shoulder.  He put on a cap, and headed out into the night.

 

In Atlanta, Georgia, a woman who was tired, too tired, had reached the end of her rope.  She stood on the raised edge of a highway overpass, her arms held straight out to the sides, looking down at the highway thirty feet below.  There was no traffic; the police had diverted the flow to an alternate route.  Officers stood below her as well on either side, not quite close enough to touch her.  They didn’t want to take a chance on spooking her, after all.

She had lived a rough life.  Her husband was gone, her job had laid her off, and her children were grown and had left her as well.  There was nobody left and she didn’t have anywhere else to go.  There was nothing else to do.  She had thought that if she came here she might get an idea of what her life could be, but it wasn’t happening.  Nothing was coming to mind except to keep looking down.

She sighed.  The officers tensed, knowing something was about to happen.  She turned her head and looked at each of them in turn.  “I’m sorry,” she said, and she closed her eyes and bent her knees.

 

In San Diego, California, a young mother came out of a supermarket with a full cart of groceries and two children in tow.  She buckled the kids into their car seats and put her groceries into the trunk of her car.  She climbed into the front seat and put the key into the ignition.  Nothing happened.  She tried again.  Only then did she notice that the radio hadn’t come on and the interior lights were off.  Her battery was dead.

Groaning, she got out of the car and looked around.  A man was just climbing into his car across from her.  She held up a hand.  “Excuse me?”  He looked at her.  “My battery is dead,” she said.  “Can you help?”

As it turned out, he could.  They both popped their hoods and he connected their batteries together while she stood beside her car, the back door open, talking to her boys, telling them what was going on.  She heard a small pop and hiss when he put the clamp on his own battery and knew that it had sparked.  He got into his car and turned on the ignition.

After his engine roared to life, she got behind the wheel of her car and turned the key again.

 

Many things happen in this world.

A game is lost when a last-second shot spins out.

The love of far-away family makes an ordinary night on the town special.

A life ends while others watch helplessly.

A car starts and a mother takes her children home.

These things and more happen all around us every day and we are none the wiser because we are engrossed in our own situations.  We move from place to place, from moment to moment, without any awareness of our own place in the world.  We plod slowly along, when we should be jumping forward in leaps and bounds.

Be bold.

Engage with the world.

Jump.