Daily Prompt: 180 Degrees

Daily Prompt: 180 Degrees.

Tell us about a time you did a 180 — changed your views on something, reversed a decision, or acted in a way you ordinarily don’t.

03/14

// I haven’t done a Daily Prompt in quite a few days – I haven’t stopped but the $10,000/7 days one really got me flowing and that’s where I’ve been recently still thought I could do today’s. Enjoy.//

He didn’t do girly. Never. He didn’t cry. He didn’t wear pink. He didn’t do soft. He was first and foremost a man. Not only that, but a manly man, complete with military haircut, big muscles and a healthy respect for sweat blood and … well not tears, not really that was a little girly for his tastes.

So when he was called in an emergency and told to rush to a hospital he didn’t panic. He walked calmly, perhaps slightly faster than normal, his boots gripping tightly to the too shiny hospital floor as he made his way to the reception desk. He didn’t acknowledge his heart pounding in his chest threatening to push his way into his throat and at the same time drop into his stomach. He ignored and denied this as he was lead into the room that held his wife. He saw her, covered in sweat, traces of blood, her face distorted by tear tracks. He saw and his knees were traitorously weak he held her hand because she demanded it and while he was not girly he was a gentleman.

It was weeks later when he was left in care of that small pink bundle for the first time. He was not frightened. He was braver than that. But in a dark place he refused to shed light on he was terrified, he was panicked and he was looking for his wife to hurry back and rescue him from the cooing drooling heart wrenching bundle that was their daughter. Hardly a person and yet the entirety of everything that mattered. His heart was neither in his throat nor in his stomach, it had been ripped out and stolen by this magnificent terrifying creature that mattered more than air, more than gold, more than sunlight and water. Inside that precious bundle held his heart and he couldn’t bear to look away, or recognize how fragile and irreplaceable it was. It drooled on him.

It was only a blink of an eye and years had passed. That strange bundle of blankets had grown. It could laugh, and cry and speak – semi coherently although always too fast and so high pitched he worried for the windows. It could also demand and pout and had eyes big enough for him to sink into and see the precious truth that was his heart and his wife’s heart and his daughter’s heart trapped in that oh so tiny chest that heaved with a barely suppressed bawl, a lip that quivered and a little sniffle that threatened to undo him until he could do naught but relent.

He could wear pink for her. He could don the tiny tiara and use the pink blanket as his cape. He could do these things because he might be a manly man and tough but he was also more than that. He was a father. Seeing that almost cry turn into a joyous smile was enough to keep him strong. When others teased him in his pictures he didn’t need to throw up a defense, he simply smiled back. He was still manly, he was tough, but no one could ever tell him that girls weren’t just as tough. He had been there when the second bundle had been born. Blood, sweat, and tears had been part of it, but also pain, fear, determination, euphoria, and triumph. He was a manly man, but he looked to his wife when he needed courage, because that was more than he could have borne, and she had done it twice and was well on the way to her third.

He was a manly man, but he did do girly. He let tiny fingers braid his short hair and longer beard, he wore pink when it was required, he played prince charming, and was a human jungle gym, he had a healthy respect for blood, sweat, and tears. And he did cry, and he revealed in that which was soft and perfect in his family, because first and foremost he was a father.

Advertisements

Daily Prompt: All Grown Up

Daily Prompt: All Grown Up.

03-06

When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?

It was fun to sleep in. Not five minutes, of even ten, but hours, mainly because the night before it had been fun to stay up. I could smell food, though, and my stomach said I should investigate. It was the middle of the afternoon, and my brother had cooked breakfast.  Five years my senior and he had decided to be responsible by frying some eggs, for himself. I pouted at him, honestly pouted. Why hadn’t he cooked me any eggs. He just grinned and pointed to the kitchen.

I huffed and returned to the living room a few minutes later with the last of the cookies and cream ice cream. I didn’t try and steal the remote from my sister, two years my senior, who was engrossed in another of her teen soaps. Girl loves boy, boy messes up, oh look random new character for girl to obsess over. Not my thing, I like cartoons. Yea so sue me.

We didn’t really do the talking thing. Brother napped on the sofa, taking up the entire thing, Sis was making goo-goo eyes at the latest heartthrob from mom’s seat and I was in dad’s chair one leg over the arm and wishing I’d thought to bring a soda through. At some point sis had made us put our dishes in the sink, although none of us would put them in the dishwasher. Mom and Dad were out of town.

It was thrilling. We were old enough to be considered responsible, we weren’t, not really, but we also weren’t likely to burn down the house and were clever enough to call 911, or one of the many ‘adult’ friends and family that were conveniently listed next to the phone should anything happen. Anything at all, Mom had stressed.

This wasn’t we’ll be out for the night or we’re just going to spend the weekend at the cabin with some friends, this was legit out of town stuff. Out of the state, several states over in fact, some business trip turned, “we have got to get out of the house without kids, because we have three and haven’t had a moments peace in 17 years!” two week getaway.

So we didn’t do the dishes, we knew the drill, make as much mess as you want but the afternoon, or more probable as soon as they call from the airport, we will freak out and clean. As a team even. We might not do a lot together but making sure Mom doesn’t freak out and start cleaning, although we know she will no matter how clean it is, the moment she arrives home. Then when she does, Dad will roll his eyes with us and very obviously ignore any signs of insanity that may have happened while they were away.

We spent that day like we spent most of the two weeks, watching TV, bickering lazily, hanging about, generally making a nuisance of ourselves, and occasionally my siblings, would go out with their friends, none of mine were able to drive though so I was pretty much stuck. That night we decided to order in pizza. We had enough money left that we could do this a couple times and none of us wanted to defrost any of the meals and actually cook. So that night’s dinner, which arrived around eleven-thirty was pizza. Greasy goodness that was pretty fantastic.

For some reason none of us slept in the next morning, well we were all up while it was still technically morning. I was in the living room watching cartoons, Brother was through on the computer blowing things up and Sister was upstairs talking on the phone. At least that’s where I thought everyone was. I was pulled out of my cartoon induced haze by an awful noise though.

It was visceral and sent chills up my spine. I was up on my feet and running before I even processed what the noise was, a choking retching sound that had me skidding to a stop outside the bathroom, feet going further than my torso in my fuzzy socks. Grabbing the doorframe to steady myself that awful noise, so much louder, closer, more painful than before gripped me and I could see my sister. My big sister collapsed in the bathroom, holding the toilet for support, her face red and wet with tears, snot slimy on her upper lip, jaw trembling and hair stuck to all of it. She heaved again and my brother was behind me.

He stayed well back though. Unsure how to help his little sister, knowing damn well she would shove him away, no girl wants a guy to see her looking like that, not even a guy who doesn’t count like your brother. Or maybe especially not your big brother who can’t beat anyone up for you for this, and honestly wouldn’t be very helpful at all. None of this mattered though. My sister was in pain and mom wasn’t there to make it better.

I didn’t realize I was on the floor beside her in minutes, dodging the first incident which hadn’t made it into the porcelain bowl. Hand on her back I flushed the first of it, then pulled her hair out of her face when it became imminent she was about to need it again. She was shaking and crying and generally a mess. I snapped at my brother to fetch water. Someone needed to act and he seemed frozen with inability, the moment I snapped at him though he jumped into action, he desperately wanted to help, and muttering “are you okay” from a safe distance wasn’t going to solve anything.

It seemed the attack was over. I wet the hand towel with cool water and handed it to my sister so she could wipe her face as she sat back against the wall, one arm still propped on the toilet. She got her sobs under control while I took the glass from my brother, still hovering just beyond the doorway. Instructions, he needed instructions. Get a bucket, put it by the sofa and then go to the store for sports drinks and crackers. We already had crackers, that didn’t matter at the time, it was instructions and he followed them.

Brother successfully diverted I had to get my sister off the bathroom floor where she sad feeling miserable. Carefully we negotiated the first incident and got her to the living room. She sat propped up on the couch, glass of water clutched in shaky hands occasionally sipping it. When I heard the car start up I fetched a clean shirt, hers had evidence of the bout of sickness, and had to be uncomfortable. I let her change by ignoring the living room and started boiling some water for some herb tea. Mom always makes herb tea when we’re sick.

Tea set next to the water, sister half dozing with her favorite teen drama playing on the TV I move onto the gross stuff. Someone has to clean the bathroom, and there is no way my brother who stood back unable to even move close to that scene is going to do it. I choke slightly at the smell of it but then block it from my mind. Someone has to do this. Working swiftly and not thinking about it at all I manage to clean the mess and flush most of it. Wiping the floor then washing it thoroughly I put all the cloths, my sister’s shirt, and a couple towels from the hamper upstairs in the laundry and set it going. I gagged once it was finished and downed a large glass of water. My brother had returned at this point. He had gotten more sports drinks than we could drink in a month and several types of crackers, also some ice-pops that a woman at the store had told him might help. Apparently he had looked so lost the mothers wanted to help him out, which was hysterical and got a good laugh out of me and my sister.

That night I sat in the same place but my brother and sister had switched, he still looked at her wearily, desperate not to have to clean out the bucket, she still looked miserable, and I didn’t blame her. Throughout the day she had been sick three more times and I had had to deal with the bucket. But now it was getting late and she had managed to keep down some soup. Everything seemed to calm down.

We slept in the living room that night. My sister didn’t want to move, I wanted to keep an eye on her, and my brother still felt since he was the oldest he should be in charge. I knew better though. He might be the oldest and legally responsible as the adult, but I was in charge. I was the one who took charge when it was needed. I was the adult. I was also twelve.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Dystopia! (The Musical)

Weekly Writing Challenge: Dystopia! (The Musical).

Weekly Prompt – Dystopia

02-25 – 03-04

Is it Saturday? She thinks groggily.  I think it’s Saturday, but why is it so cold? Did Maz open my window?

“Mo-om.” She called, eyes still shut, and curled up coughing, the fit, seemed to take ages.

Great, it’s Saturday I’m freezing and now I’m sick because Maz is a dweeb.

“Mom.” She croaked, still not willing to crack open her eyes. She felt around for her blankets to huddle into them. She didn’t have her covers there was only one explanation. “MAZ!” She bellowed, coughing harshly at the strain it caused.

She sat up, and fell forward. Her hands flew out before her and slammed into some glass. Then she realized something very not good was happening. Finally, blearily she opened her eyes.

Carefully she stood and leaned back, what she’d assumed was her bed seemed to be some sort of tube. She looked forward not up, the pad she was leaning on was mostly vertical, in front of her was a curved glass cover. She took a deep breath.

I’m in a glass coffin. She giggled. And I’m very cold. She looked down. At least I’m not naked.

She fingered the thin white cloth of the shapeless dress she found herself in. It tore slightly it was so fragile. She dropped the edge and took a deep breath.

I’m not learning anything new here. She decided. I have to find Mom and Maz.

Leaning forward she pressed up against the glass. It didn’t budge. She leaned back and hit it as hard as she could and cried out as her knuckles bruised themselves against the glass. Undetered she leaned back onto the pad and pulled up her right leg and slammed the bare heel into the glass. It budged. Slightly, just enough to give her a moment’s excitement before it fell back and sealed itself again.

She didn’t notice the frustrated tear that mared her cheek, or how her teeth were chattering as it seemed to get colder in the small tube. She was determined. Crouching sideways so she could reach the bottom of the tube she pushed the tips of her fingers into the seal of the glass top. She followed it around and up and found nothing.

Look for an opening, sometimes it’s a backpass. The words of her soccer coach rang in her ears. So she turned and pulled at the pad. It slid away from the metal frame with only the slight resistance of velcro binding. There under what had been her bed she found a panel that slid up exposing wires and buttons, and couldn’t understand anyof it. There was however a large red button, and who can resist a large red button.

If it doesn’t let me out, whatever it does should let someone know I’m here. She reasoned and punched the button quickly before she talked herself out of it.

There was a click, and the glass began to slide up and out, like a garage door. She pushed against it and flopped onto the ground. It was so warm. She shivered violently and hugged herself around her middle.

What the hell is going on?  She picked herself up and looked up and down the long hall. The metal grated floor dug into her bare feet and she winced when she took a step forward. She heard a soft *whump* And looked towards it.

Just to the right of her strange Snow White coffin was another, just as occupied as hers had been with a man, thumping at the glass as she had done. With a growing horror she realized that the entire hallway was filled with these things.

I’ve been abducted by aliens. I’ve been abducted by aliens and that’s very, very bad. She may have completely panicked at this point. She banged on the glass that the man was behind and pulled ineffectively at the seal and she was panting with the effort. She had to help.

They put us in; there must be a way to take us out. A whiney voice rang in her ear, it sounded a lot like Maz when he was in a snit and certain he was smarter than his boring older sister.

“Mom, Maz.” She whispered, feeling very, very small. She stopped and stood back, the man made eye contact through the glass and seemed to hold her still with his beseeching stare. He was saying something, but the glass distorted everything and it sounded so very far away.

She shook her head at him in silent despair, she couldn’t understand what he wanted. She couldn’t help him get out. He was shivering. His pad had been pulled aside so it crumpled against the side, the red button did not light up in his tube. He pointed to the right, down the hall, then to the big red button. He did this two more times and she nodded.

Big red button, big red button She ran down the hall, noticing almost all of the tubes were filled with people in thin white dresses awake pounding at the glass, lips turning blue. Big red button, big red button. Her feet were screaming at her and she was terrified to look down, certain at least the left one was bleeding. Big red button, big red button. Why did aliens change our clothes … why would they care at all. She stopped at a large desk, it was a semi-circle metal and dark like the rest of the hallway, there was a door behind it. She started towards it but there were so many *whump**Whump* noises coming from the hall it was terrifying. She couldn’t leave those people there, freezing.

She looked at the desk, there were no words just buttons with numbers and a few toggles. There in the far left, nearest the door.

“Big red button.” She grinned and pressed it. Klaxons turned on and yellow lights flashed, she flinched away from it. There was a symphony of *clicks* and the entire hallway was shrinking as the glass tops lifted up and people were falling out of there freezing prisons onto the metal grated floor. The man who was beside her came striding down the hallway ignoring the people and dodging their grasping fingers.

“You!” He called pinning her to the desk with his eyes again. “Name.” He demanded.

He’s not in the white dress, he has shoes.

“Naomi.” She managed. “Are you working with the aliens?” Her hands flew to her mouth as if to push the words back in, but it was too late.

“What?”

“They let you keep your clothes.” She responded and her hands flopped to her sides, as if to give up keeping her quiet. She coughed and doubled over, certain her lungs were going to collapse.

“No aliens Naomi.” The man managed, with a peculiar look on his face. “Look I’m not into politics, I can’t handle this situation.” He seemed to shrug.

There was a clank and a large group of people rushed through the door. It almost seemed they would collide with each other of get stuck in the doorway there were so many and it was so small. But the managed all the same. There were doctors with masks up snapping on thin see-through gloves, nurses, some carrying stretchers, and several people in suits. It was a woman who stepped forward and eyed the man in his beige coverall and leather boots.

“Explanation.” She demanded, her lips pursed and her demeanor unamused.

“What you sent me to fix was broken, too broken, sealed me in and shorted when I hit the emergency release, defrosted the whole section.” The man shrugged and brushed past her. “When I said it needed yearly maintenance I was serious.” He tipped an imaginary hat at Naomi. “Thanks for the rescue kid.” He grinned and slid through the open door.

The woman sighed and stared at Naomi without seeing her. “The entire section.” She may have sworn at this point but Naomi wasn’t certain, she had never heard that word before, it may have been the name of the man who handed her a plastic square that lit up in her hands.

Everything seemed to blur after that, the woman made an announcement and the suits left in her wake, the doctors and nurses seemed intent on setting the recently released with blankets and warm IV’s. No one was answering the questions being asked.

That woman knows the answers.  Naomi reasoned. Someone had better figure out what’s going on here and where Mom and Maz are.

She snorted and slid through the doors and followed the suits, not quite in ear range of the orders the woman was firing off. The floor out here was not metal grates; it was a freezing cold laminated sheet. She shivered in her thin dress. It didn’t take long for one of the suits to notice her.

“Boss, got a stray over here.” She froze as the group stopped and turned to her. Big and brave, not afraid of a stupid suit.

“You should return to the others.” The lady said not unkindly, but so matter of fact that it caused Naomi to bristle. Right like that’s going to happen.

“Oh really, should I now?” She crossed her arms. “Because I don’t know what kind of sick operation you’re running here, but when my mother find out about this you’re going to be in more trouble than it’s worth. She’s a top notch advocate and liable to destroy you and whoever you’re working for, so if you think I’m going to blithely wander back into that prison back there you have another thing coming. You better have some damn good lawyers, not that it’ll do you much good.”

The woman actually chuckled lightly. “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons.” She whispered and Naomi only barely caught it.

“Alright Dragon, why shouldn’t I?” I’ll call you that forever now, just try and stop me.

“What year is it?” Dragon asked her suddenly.

“2027” Naomi answered confidently. “I don’t have a concussion; I just want to know what the hell is going on here.”

The woman used her odd swear word again. “That early, this is going to be hell.”

“I’m still waiting. I’m still freezing, and bozo number three is looking a little too closely for me to think its necessarily wholesome thoughts in his mind, white is way to revealing.” She pointed at one of the suits, he immediately turned his head his face flushed red, he shrugged out of his dark jacket and held it out not making eye-contact.

Immediately she pulled the still warm jacket on to her shoulders, its arms way to long for her but she really didn’t care at this point. She pulled the arms up enough to do up the buttons and the jacket fell to her knees.

Dragon sighed. “Let’s not do this in the hallway, would you care to step into my office?” She finally asked and Naomi took that to be a good sign that they weren’t pushing her back in with the others.

A short elevator ride later and she found herself in a bright warm office, sitting in a soft armchair with a hot cup of tea in her hands and a blanket over her bare legs. She watched as Dragon skimmed over several clear plastic squares and discarded them quickly. Eventually it seemed she found the one she wanted.

“2027, female, teen – here you are.” She smiled. “Naomi Heartrite. Fifteen years old. Saturday March ninth. Do you know where you are Naomi?” She asked coming from behind the desk to perch on the edge.

“Your office.”

“Yes, but where?”

“No, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.” Naomi growled.

“You’re in a hospital. Lady Grace North Hospital and Holding.”

“Holding?” Naomi questioned, and Dragon grimaced.

“You’re quick to the point. Yes Holding.”

“Is that where I was?”

“You and about 200 others in that section. What is the last thing you remember?”

“Going to bed Friday.” Naomi’s hands shook, because she wasn’t certain what was happening anymore why she had been in such a horrid place, what had happened last night.

“Friday March eighth, 2027. Naomi look at the date on this file.”

She handed a plastic square to the pale girl. “April twentieth.” She glanced up. “2069.”

There was a moment of absolute still silence. The girl looking off past Dragon’s shoulder and the woman dubbed Dragon looking straight at the girl.

“No.” The girl managed. “That .. That..”

“Forty-two years.”

“But .. but why?” Forty-two? Forty-two years?

“You know what cryogenics is yes?”

“Freezing people when they need to wait for future breakthroughs, yes but I’m not sick.”

“No you weren’t you were, damaged though. Badly. You were in a car crash and needed immediate care, so you were transported to the nearest hospital, but care in the twenties couldn’t help you. So cryogenics at your mothers command. Seven years later there was a treatment, surgeries done and you were healthy again.”

“So why was I still in there!” She screamed standing suddenly tea fell and soaked into the plush carpet.

“Sometimes when there is success there isn’t necessarily anyone left to come back to. Records showed your mother as your holder, and she couldn’t be found. When there is no holder we cannot reanimate and so you, like those other 200 downstairs right now have nowhere to go, no one to be placed with.”

“So what you’re going to stick us back in those coffins?”

“No. You’re awake that would be cruel.”

“But holding us for eternity that’s fine?” They would have kept me on ice forever. She shivered again.

“That’s the law.” The woman stated. “With no one to care for you, you, all of you, become a burden on the state. If a holder is not found financially capable they are ineligible until such time as they become so. It is for your protection.”

“My mother wouldn’t have left me.”

“Naomi.”

“NO! She would have been there when I was fixed seven years later. She, she”

“She was found, but not in a state to be a holder. She was in her own unit by then, in cryo.”

“She’s here?” Mom, I’m going to find you.

“No she’s not in holding any longer. She was reanimated several years ago her form of cancer was able to be cured and her holder was found stable enough that it was ordered acceptable by the courts.”

“So people just sit in those iceboxes, fully healed, waiting for someone to bail them out.” This is what happens, people not worth it unless there’s a payout.

“It’s not as barbaric as that.”

“Try saying that while sitting here. I’m 57.”

“No you’re still 15. Aging is minimum inside Cryo-units.”

“Now what?” Naomi sat back in the chair and curled her legs up under her.

“Now I have 200 reanimated members of society that have nowhere to go and a publicity nightmare.” Dragon sighed.

“Terribly sorry you’re having a bad day.” Naomi scoffed. “I meant with us?”

“There are charities and government programs geared towards helping the reanimated, although they normally work through Holders, so it will be a paper work nightmare. It really would have been easier if that unit had never malfunctioned.”

There was a commotion outside the office and loud voices arguing. The door pushed open and a doctor rushed in followed by a suit, bozo number 3 Naomi knew, since his jacket was gone.

The doctor stopped and just stared for a moment.

“Director, if I may have a moment.” He stated angrily.

“No you may not.” Dragon, who was apparently the Director of this hospital, said. “As you can see”

“Not with you.” He sighed. “With my sister.”

His sister? His sister? Oh my god. “Maz?”

“Omi.” The doctor managed, choking slightly eyes bright.

“But you’re … eleven.”

“And you’re fifty-seven.”

“Dragon over there say’s it doesn’t count, still fifteen, still can’t drive.”

Reality seemed to blur and shift again and Naomi found herself in a bed in the hospital, brother at her side. He was trying to explain to her what had happened.

“I tried to be your holder, when mom wasn’t able anymore.” He said, eyes never leaving his older .. younger… his sister’s face. “But I could only hold one. So I held Mom, and Mom held you, and when you were cured I fought so hard to bring you home but I would have to let go of Mom’s place and then she wouldn’t be eligible for treatment I..”

“You did what you had to.” Naomi realized. “Is she, I mean”

“I called my friend Greg, you remember him?”

“He ate a worm last week.” Naomi laughed.

“Please remind him of that. Greg’s bringing Mom here.”

“But if she’s awake why didn’t she have me woken up?”

“She’s not deemed fit to help you integrate. There’s a lot of paperwork to changing holders, and it’s almost impossible when the old holder was in holding themselves. We, we weren’t certain they’d ever let us have you back.” Maz was crying, his head pressed down into the hard matress of the hospital bed.

Naomi did what big sisters did and held him close. It was immensely weird that her brother was 38 years older than her, and at the same time felt perfectly natural to hold his head and rub his back.

“Wait, so you’re 53. I’m 15 and mom’s 46. You’re older than both of us?” She fell into a fit of laughter and was quickly joined by her baby brother. This was the weirdest Saturday ever.

Daily Prompt – No, Thanks

Daily Prompt: No, Thanks.

Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?

Hamish knew exactly where this was heading. He knew where the conversation was leading to, and he was not going to stick around for it. With a great heave he pulled himself out of his chair and leaned heavily on his stick. The conversation in the dining room ground to a halt as they saw him approaching. They dithered as though he was incapable of hearing them from the other room. He wanted to scoff at them but he was too tired.

“If you’re going to talk about me, I suggest you wait until I’m dead.” He huffed. “Or at least out of ear-shot. I’m old not deaf, blind, or mute.”

“Hey Gramps.” His daughters oldest grinned. He was a slimy little toad and Hamish knew exactly what he was after.

“I am your Grandfather, not Gramps. If you can’t get that right, why should to get anything at all.” He threatened with a sniff. “Abigail, get the car will you?”

His niece, lovely girl, nodded and left the room without waiting for the ‘family council’ to give their approval.

“Dad we know you’re not deaf.” His oldest daughter, Millie. Sweet thing, worries too much, married a lout.

“Or blind, or mute?” He prompted.

His daughter chuckled. “You are most certainly not mute. But I bet you couldn’t see us from the other room?” She dared.

“Doesn’t make me blind. I know what you’re up to and it’s not going to happen.” He said with a thump of his cane on the floor.

“We’re thinking about what’s best for you, Dad.” Eric, his son, always a bit weedy, smart as a whip though.

“You’re thinking about what’s best for you.” Hamish responded. “Once you got Angus put up, thought you’d turn to the baby brother. Don’t see Abigail helping you in your quest.”

“Dad..”

“That’s because she’s been, with me. We’ve seen him in that place, forgetting who he was. Forgetting me and her. You keep living your lives and living through your cell phones. We got in that car every damned day and visit my brother. When’s the last time you visited your uncle, Millie?”

She halted guilt plain on her face.

“Did you even stay five minutes after unpacking his things into that box of a room?” He demanded of his son. “No. You didn’t you were too busy. I’m old not dead. You won’t put me in a box until it’s my coffin, so don’t try convincing me with pamphlets. And don’t you dare talk about it at my brother’s wake. I’ve seen the hell he lived in, sitting by the phone as if it were his only line to life. Did any of you call him? Did you wait until it was too late and cry that you had meant to do more? Oh you’d planned to visit if only he hadn’t up and died before you had the time?”

He stared at the shamed faces of his family. Not one dared to meet his eye, even the slimy toad was flushed red at his part in the tragedy that was his brother’s final days.

Abigail stood in the doorway stone faced, her tears long since cried out. He nodded to her and leaned heavily on his cane. “That said, it’s been a horrible afternoon. And just so you know I will not be signing up for a stay at any retirement home/village/or any such nonsense. I’ll die at home or in a hospital and without the tender care of any assistance workers. You will excuse me now. I’ve just lost my brother and my family’s trying to sweep me under the carpet, I think I deserve a drink.”

He grabbed the whiskey glass from the table next to his son. It was the good stuff. He drank it in one swift gulp and wiped his lips on the sleeve of his suit.

“Come Abigail. Someone sober needs to drive me home.”