Write at the Merge Week 26 – Lifehouse and lighthouse –
And this picture. [picture has been removed by original site]
prompted the piece below: The Jacket
Write at the Merge, is a weekly creative writing prompt wherein we encourage you to use up to 500 words to creatively write a bit of fiction or memoir prompted by either, or both, of the items of inspiration, be they quotes, images, songs, words, colors, emotions.
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Up here, the world looks hazy. Waves crash against dark rocks and then recede. Just when you think it will unleash its vengeance the sea pulls away in retreat. Still, each time you hold your breath and wonder.
My sister went home to sleep. My father went to have a cigarette. It’s only me here and there is nothing I can do. It’s cold. On the chair next to the bed I spot the jacket. I put it on. The next to last button is missing. As I touch the bottom button a bit of rusty residue colors my thumb.
“There isn’t any change,” the doctor informs us.
“I’d suggest you go home and get some sleep.” In his eyes, you need it, are etched like words in the sand.
Mom holds up a course weave fabric jacket with a light house motif. A black-and-white striped lighthouse sits atop a rocky island over looking a gray-blue sea on which a black sailboat goes nowhere under a pale blue sky containing two puffy white clouds and two v-shaped black birds. Down the front, five shiny metal buttons embossed with anchors line up in military formation.
Invisible emotions waft through the room like ghosts. Dad grabs a newspaper and sits down on the hard plastic chair next to my sister. My sister doesn’t look up from her knitting. I just sit silently. A ghost whispers, I want to go.
“Where’d you get that?” I ask.
“It’s a gift from my sister,” mom replies.
My sister gets up, “Well, I’m going to go get some sleep,” she announces to no one in particular.
“Where does she find these things? It’s not even my size!”
Mom cracks a smile. As we laugh, my sister walks in.
“It’s not that bad,” she shrugs and breezes out.
My father puts down the unread newspaper. He paces. Then he waves his pack of cigarettes and walks out.
“Why are you two laughing,” Dad asks.
I abruptly stop and draw my lips shut. Mom’s laughter recedes as she motions her hand over the jacket.
My father shakes his head and clucks his tongue.
Mom and I look at each other. Dad leaves. I retreat upstairs. Mom just sits there.
Mom lies there motionless. In my mind, I talk to her: Go, you’re halfway there. Finish the journey. Take that last step. I try to hold her hand. My hand drops away from her bloated arm. Tubes stick out from her body like ribbons rising skyward. The bag is still less than halfway full. Unless her kidneys kick in, nothing can be done.
The ugly, oversized jacket is hung up in the back of the closet and forgotten.
Dad’s voice trails off as he drops the pen. He shudders and sobs. This is hard for him. My mother always handled these kinds of things. He blows his nose and puts away his handkerchief. It’s done.
continue with The Button