New Year, new flash! A group of author friends I know has a system of flash challenges associated with seasons of the year. I missed out on Monster Mash, hosted by Siobhan Muir, in October and Tipsy Santa, hosted by Ever Addams, in December. This New Year Cara Michaels is hosting the New Year Revolution flash fiction blog hop, with a chance at one of two prizes! The challenge ran from the 13th of January until tonight. I’m coming in just under the wire here to submit my piece of flash.
So without further ado, here is my addition to the New Year Revolution blog hop! Be sure to share and/or comment across Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere using the #NYR2020 hashtag. Don’t forget to check out the other tales under the tag, too!
Forgiveness is Not Goodbye
It started with accidents.
Accidents that we mostly thought nothing of at the start.
‘It doesn’t happen if I’m up before 8am,’ my mother said.
At what point though are accidents not true accidents?
Devolving came quickly after that. First the lethargic nature. Then the sickness and pain.
‘He’s getting old,’ we said. ‘It’s probably just his age showing,’ we said.
How could we have been so right, and so wrong at the same time?
The car ride to the emergency vet’s seemed like one of the longest rides I have ever taken. We got the call this morning. The needed surgery that may, or may not, have given him a few more years of his life was getting riskier. Complications could run rampart. Odds of full recovery were getting slimmer. He’s getting worse. He’s suffering.
‘Do you still wish to go through with the surgery?’
This car ride is our answer.
I’ve never liked hospitals. They make me uneasy, they make me tense. The stench of chemicals and unnatural life. The essence of death and birth that hangs in the air in constant war with each other. The silence that is only interrupted by the sounds of Death’s scythe tapping across pristine tiles in a rhythmic approach to rooms.
Veterinary hospitals are almost no different.
Stepping into the white-tiled reception hall and waiting room made my heart clench and climb into my throat. It was taking all my will to not dissolve into a sniveling mess, and now was no different. An adorable black Labrador, Shepherd cross puppy before me both managed to distract me from my pain and also make it hurt more.
I remember when Snowball used to be that small and that cute. Well, he’s still that small, but he’s only that cute now when he’s freshly groomed.
Guess we won’t be making those appointments anymore. . .
Time seems to stand still as we wait to be seen. I can’t keep my eyes from roaming over the animals and people there, reading their faces, feeling their own emotions mingling with mine. My mother’s voice is meek when she talks to the receptionist. I hardly remember myself speaking up, explaining why we came, pet-less as we were. Somehow I know I kept my voice level, kept my composure unlike my mother’s unraveling state. The sympathy in her eyes hurts as much as what I know I will have to endure soon.
From there the wait is eternally short. The exam room we are led into is bare in comparison to what I expected. The paperwork is damning when the receptionist comes back in. I again find myself speaking for my mother. Small talk, mostly observational and immaterial, is all that keeps me centered when she leaves until that door opens again.
The nurse brings in a small bundle, swaddled in blankets. Only a white, scraggly head pokes out from the soft indigo. I can hear the heavy, ragged draw of breaths as Snowball’s set down. Small legs stumble when he takes the start of his last steps. Disoriented. Weak.
Warm brown eyes have lost their wild lust for life when they see me. Pain clouds them. A Soul tired look. It’s as if he’s looking right through me, already gone.
Does he even recognize me?
I can’t allow myself to think those things right now.
So I sit myself on the floor, numb to the fact my stillness causes my legs to eventually go to sleep, and leave my hand outstretched. Waiting, again. My poor baby boy will hardly come near me. How can I blame him? We left him alone in this big, scary place overnight. We are his whole world, and to him we abandoned him.
Trust must be rebuilt.
I know not how much time passes before Snowball allows me to be close, to comfort him, to murmur sweet nothings. To love him one last time with tears in my eyes.
“Are we doing the right thing?” I ask in a shaky voice when the time comes.
The vet pauses just long enough to look up, but my eyes are on the cloudy white liquid seeping through my dog’s IV, and the syringe of pink now hooked up to it. Out of my peripheral I see her nod. “You are.”
I am the last thing he sees.
Deep down I know with complete confidence she is right, but how do I give my broken heart that absolution?
746 words / © 2020 Daelyn Morgana
In loving memory. . .