I am so pleased to share with you all the genius and all-around-goatastic awesomeness of Ms. Howard. She is an excellent writer, she is truly funny, and she’s a fine human being. She’s here today sharing thoughts and a short work of fiction on the subject of unconditional love, and I can be found at her blog yammering about my garden. And now, Anita:
Thank you for inviting me over to your fabulous blog, Michelle! I’m humbled to be counted among the wonderful writers who’ve already posted on the subject of love.
Love is beautiful and powerful, and the best thing of all is it has no expiration date. But human life does. That’s why when we’ve been wronged – especially by those who are supposed to love us, those that we’re supposed to love back – it’s important to be aware of time constraints. If an opportunity to fix things presents itself in the twilight of a loved one’s life, we have a choice. We can turn our backs and hope to suppress the bitterness throughout our own remaining years. Or we can give our loved one and ourselves peace before we say goodbye. Not in condoning their actions, but by choosing to demonstrate our love through one final act of forgiveness. Just don’t hesitate too long; time has a way of getting the upper hand.
Rain slaps the window like spent champagne, frothy and curdled with ice, the soured spit of an angry cloud.
Dusk comes early today. I sit and stare through the naked glass, rain filling my skull by osmosis, puncturing my brow as I lean against the chilled pane. White walls close around me like unbreakable, judgmental teeth.
I’m determined not to be weak. I refuse to turn myself inside out. Haven’t I been the one wronged all these years?
From behind, his gaze nudges my shoulders. I curl my spine and sink into a chair. Ammonia singes my nose. In the back of my throat, I taste the bitter purity, and my tongue swells.
Eyes slanted to the side, I catch his movements. Blue and pink lowlights stream through the window to cap his wrinkled, hairless head. So much smaller than I remember. As he coughs, his scalp bobs on his pillow like a bruised apple.
The man is a sieve now. They poked him full of holes in hopes to drill out the disease. But they only managed to drain the venom from his soul. For this I should be grateful.
Maybe I am.
He reaches for me – a silent plea or an overdue and inadequate apology. Either way, I’m frozen. Rain sloshes in my skull. I remember what that hand felt like, how it snapped hot across tear-stained cheeks. Rejected, his palm drapes across the sheet, as helpless as the wretched child who used to fear it.
I shift in my chair. He moans and rubs the purpled pinpricks in his arms. Shattered skin binds us now.
I know the ache beneath the flesh; the hardening in the heart as the sting behind a blackened eye reverberates to jade the spirit.
The clock on the wall ticks out a dead man’s march.
How many seconds will I have to fight this nudging need to speak? If I let each opportunity lie dormant on my tongue, a flat thought … an aborted whisper … isn’t there a limit? When they’re all extinguished unused, are they boxed up, sealed with tape, and coated with layers of dust? Eternally silent.
Or are the wasted moments immortalized in haunting requiems that will pound in my head like the rain on the eaves — a turbulent rush of regret?
Forgiveness and peace – glorious peace. Just three words away.
My tongue pets the ridges of my teeth, scraping off hesitation. My cracked lips stretch to take flight.
Lightning strikes and the walls hiccup yellow illumination.
Bested by the thunder, my sentiment cowers inside a closed mouth. I swallow it down but it buoys back into my throat.
I don’t even manage the first word before his breath falls silent to a monotone beep. The nurse enters. With a sympathetic nod, she closes his eyelids before she leaves.
The clock continues to tick, mocking me.
I stand at the window, shaking. The rain in my head gushes in hot streams down my face. Love for my father pulses through me – alive, his pardon forever stillborn on my tongue.
Anita Grace Howard is a writer of YA and adult fantasy with a romantic slant. She’s represented by Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency. When she’s not writing, she spends her time making silent films about vampiric pygmy goats, talking about her undergarments, and tweeting with the goatposse. She is not a rutabaga. You can learn more about her at her beautiful blog, and join in the madness on Twitter.