“What did I do to deserve this?” I asked out loud to an empty waiting room.
It was the first thought that came to mind as I gazed at the metal shine of the knife protruding from my chest. An agonizing whimper sprung from my vocal cords, but the three or four people nearby paid no mind to me. The only support I received came from underneath in the guise of a cold, uncomfortable chair.
I gripped on to the handle of the offending blade. Life’s final breaths had escaped the scream from my dry, cracked lips as I searched for the eyes of my killer, but my father had left the room almost as quickly as he had arrived.
Grief stricken, my Dad had said, “It’s good night, Alan. It’s good night for good,” driving the blade deeper into my chest. He said, “I’m sorry. There is no coming back from this,” left me all alone as he passed through the double doors that led to the hospital’s ICU.
Frightened, I called out for my mother, but she wasn’t coming. It was too late. She was never going to be there for me again.
A rumbling noise filled my ears. I couldn’t hear myself think. The cloud hanging over my dirt-tomb flickered like a malfunctioning strobe light. Its flames unraveled from their fiery binding. It appeared I was about to get struck by lightning. Lucky me.
The rumbling gained momentum. I wiggled my arms, hoping to fall to the side of the dirt pile and escape its pull. My efforts were useless. The dirt hardened around my arms like a vine and held me in place. I wasn’t only going to get struck by lightning. I was being served up for the slaughter.
I looked down at the open tear in the chest of my shirt. Dried blood caked around the spot where Father had stabbed me. I hoped the lightning would treat my breast plate as its bulls-eye, popping me like an old balloon, and take me away from this awful place. But, in spite of my call for cessation, the cloud returned to a placid state snuggled up in its inferno blanket. I felt like it was mocking me. After that little bit of excitement, I was left to roast under the blaze, immobile.
I studied the way the flames linked the clouds together like cotton tangled up in chicken wire. Every now and then a solar flare would pelt down, narrowly missing my face, and starting a small fire on the ground. I got nervous about the fires after the first few times, but they would eventually just extinguish themselves.
Curiosity about the patterns of the solar flares distracted me from my predicament. Occasionally, I could make out the dull tones of what sounded like whispers, but the flares are what helped me pass the time.
It was unlikely that my social calendar was going to fill up anytime soon, so I set aside some time to reflect on my situation. What got me here? Sure, Father held the knife. That went without question. But, why did Father hold the knife? I was a good son. He was a decent dad. It seemed like so much of the last few days had been erased from my memory like I was an Alan Quinn etch-a-sketch.
Am I still asleep?
Thomas William Shaw is an author and stage actor from Birmingham, AL. He lives with his wife, Lauren, their children, and their cats in a quiet place. Occasionally he will post about it.