This is my post for Josie’s writing workshop at Sleep Is For the Weak. I chose prompt 2: Tell me about a time when you had a moment of realisation and knew that something HAD to change.
When I arrived, they were wheeling you into the lift as I reached the top of the stairs. That in itself was remarkable. Coincidence. Destiny.
I felt the shift then.
My mouth didn’t work. There was something wrong with my eyes. I reached a hand towards you , ‘That’s…that’s my…Dad?’
You were almost unrecognisable. Shrivelled. Shrunken. Grey. The size of a child. I really wasn’t sure it was you.
You looked at me with rheumy eyes and tried to lift a hand. The porters looked at you for confirmation of my identity and you tried to speak. I wondered if you would deny me. But you nodded. Opened your mouth. No sound came.
In the lift, I tried to breathe. Tiny little breaths. I wanted to run outside and draw great gulps of air into my lungs. I could hear the life in me. My heart. My blood.
You looked bloodless and scared. I stood, squashed against the doors and smelt your fear.
In the corridor. Waiting. I put out my hand and patted yours tentatively. You tried a smile. ‘Bit of a mess hey Dad?’ I whispered. A tear trickled down your cheek and spread into the hospital gown. You turned your hand over and squeezed mine. Your speech was so slurred that I struggled to understand what you said, ‘I’ve been a bit of a silly bugger’ and another tear trickled to join the first.
The strength in your hand had gone. It lay in mine. Diminished.
I tried to listen to the doctor as he explained procedures and risks to you, talked about the damage you had done how your recovery would be hampered by your alcohol dependence, how you might not recover. You tried to talk but he couldn’t understand you and looked to me for help. Between us the forms were signed and permissions given. I could feel their urgency. You had to go.
It was like being in a film. Everything else receded and it was just you and me. Main characters. In the spotlight. You wouldn’t let go of my hand and I couldn’t let go of yours.
You made a mammoth effort to speak,’Will you be here when I come back?’ I nodded.
I felt the shift again.
As they wheeled you away, you watched me and I watched you until you disappeared.
I stood in the corridor and sobbed and the shift was complete. I would be there if you came back.