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- No Second Chance
Words – 295
The call came in the early hours of Saturday morning. The doctor’s voice was kind, concerned, reassuring, all in one short conversation. My elderly mother had died during the night he told me. She’d had a sudden heart attack, and didn’t suffer.
I sat bolt upright in the bed, shocked and overwhelmed by the sudden loss and a feeling of regret. How could this be? I was to visit her today and take her home.
She had been admitted to hospital the previous week for treatment of a non- threatening blood disorder. I visited her every day, taking in fruit, nibbles and the daily paper. We chatted about her day, she quite enjoyed being in hospital, but always looked forward to going home. She lived alone in a small unit and was happy there.
On Friday I had to go out of town for work, and returned home late. I was tired, hungry, out of sorts after the day out, and did not feel up to a trip to the hospital. I rang my mother, ‘How are you mum?’
‘I’m feeling better, and the doctor thinks I can go home tomorrow.’ She sounded bright and chirpy.
I felt relief. ‘I’ve just come home. I won’t come in tonight, unless there’s something you need?’
‘No, that’s alright, they’re looking after me well in here.’
I could hear a whisper of disappointment in her voice, but I blocked it out. The day had left me exhausted.
‘I’ll get some groceries in the morning and freshen up the unit. I’ll call into the hospital about 11 o’clock.’ She seemed happy with that and said goodbye. I felt a pang of guilt as I hung up, but told myself I’d see her tomorrow.
The next morning she was gone.
- A Life Lesson Learned
Words – 294
One bright summer’s day, aged twelve, my mate Russell, and I, chased Brian Beswick and his four mates, up the back lane into Brian’s backyard.
Brian and his friends threw stones at us. Russell tossed a piece of tree-branch. It hit Brian’s leg.
We raced back to our homes knowing we’d be in trouble.
Russell darted inside his house. I sat in my driveway in the dirt.
Mr. Beswick strode up, arriving as my dad, Bill, came out to stand beside me in the sunshine.
Mr. Beswick said, “Bill, your son threw a piece of wood at my boy that hit him”.
Dad looked down at me drawing circles in the dust, and asked, “Did you do that?”
I shook my head and said, “No Dad”. To my young mind, it was not me who had thrown the stick, so it was a truthful answer to the question.
Dad raised his eyebrows, and cocked his head at Mr. Beswick, as if to say, “That’s that then”.
Mr. Beswick said, “Well, he knows who did do it”.
Dad asked, “Do you?”
Mr. Beswick said, “Well, who was it?”
Again, Dad looked at me, and said, “Are you going to say who it was?”
“I don’t want to say, Dad”.
He spread his arms out from his sides, palms up, shrugged, and looked at Mr. Beswick with an open, blank, but understanding face, clearly indicating that the conversation was over.
“Harumph,” said Mr. Beswick, then spun on his heel, and walked off.
Dad half-turned, looked at me, winked, and without another word, walked leisurely back up our drive.
He never mentioned the incident again.
“It was in that moment that I learned about quiet strength, loyalty, steadfastness, love, and how to be a man.”
Words – 235
He grew up afraid of the sound of his own name.
Before he was old enough to write a single word he understood the power of them.
Hiding in his wardrobe at night he would try and forget all the words he had heard that day. They pinned him down making him feel so heavy that to move even the smallest amount gave him splinters. The wood from the bottom of the wardrobe burying deep under his skin smashing against the rocks inside causing even more pain.
The softness of that thin strip of satin held tightly against his face offering little comfort as it soaked up his silent tears till it could hold no more. His fear heightened as the drops fell hitting the wooden floor, petrified with every splash he would be found.
The morning sun would sneak under the crack in the bottom of the door waking him before anyone else as he quickly and as quietly as he could, he would wash and leave the house. Making sure his school uniform covered as much as he could.
Each step the voices in his head fuelling the inner turmoil as he walked from one place that should have been a sanctuary to another. Always in fear and dread of what would happen today. How many new names would he learn he had. How he longed to be called just one, just one.