Tears of the Son


TerribleMinds Chuck Wendig has a weekly challenge for us.
Flash Fiction Challenge: Write what you know. The premise:
Take a true life event, twist it, and reimagine it in fiction with a 1,000 word limit.
Here is my attempt!

With morbid curiosity I looked.
I couldn’t stop myself from looking.
I stood on my tiptoes and peeked inside the giant white box that I was hanging onto.

What I saw before me was nearly unrecognizable. I heard them talking and saying how well she looked. She didn’t look well to me. She was so pale. They had put her in her favorite dress and one that I had always loved to see her in. It was a knee length sleeveless purple dress with a cinch waist. I could close my eyes and see her traipsing around the house in that dress the day my older sister graduated from college. She was so nervous that day it took us hours to find her shoes and they were sitting right there on the bed beside dads dress jacket. Dad stood in front of me now with that same dress jacket on. I wondered if they put shoes on mom. I couldn’t see her feet so I didn’t know why they would go to the trouble.

I had to look again.
I reached in first and placed my hand on her small arm. It was so cold. Mom was always so cold. I thought for a second that she needed a blanket but then as quickly as the thought came I was reminded that she didn’t need for anything anymore. I stood as high as I could on my tiptoes so I could see her face. We gave them a picture of what she looked like. She was always so filled with life and alive. Her eyes smiled when she looked at you. I know that sounds cliché but it is true. Her eyes were not smiling now. Her mouth looked all strange as if it was fighting gravity to stay up on her face. They didn’t know how to fix mom’s hair. It was done all fancy and laid so delicate on the pillow behind her head. Mom did not do fancy and even on that graduation day when she wore her purple dress and the infamous hiding shoes she still simply brushed her long blond hair straight back and put a small barrette on the left side. The barrette is as fancy as mom would get.

My dad turned around and asked me if I wanted him to pick me up so I could see better, that is all I wanted to add embarrassment to sorrow. No I told him and ushered him to go ahead that I would be a minute. I watched my father and handful of other mourners walk through the double doors that led out of this small room where my mother was laid out on display.

I was alone with her now.
I looked around the room and saw a small footstool at the end of one of the fancy chairs and drug it over where I could get a better look.
I could see all of her now. She didn’t look much different from what I had seen on my tiptoes but I could see her better. I put my hand back on her small cold arm and rubbed it. I tried to tell myself that she was just asleep that she would wake up at any moment and tell me to do my homework or yell up the stairs that dinner was ready. I wanted the chance to have her come to my college graduation. It wasn’t fair that she got to go to my sisters but not mine. It wasn’t fair that they told us her heart had just stopped beating. How does that happen? She was healthy, active, alive and then her heart just stopped. She didn’t have a heart attack; she just went to sleep and didn’t wake up. For no reason. For no reason at all.

I had been so good with not crying but a tear snuck through the gates and rolled down my cheek landing on the spot right above her wrist. I didn’t think anything of it first. But as I stood there with my hand on her arm rubbing her with my thumb it felt like her skin was getting warmer beneath my thumb. I knew it had to be me rubbing so much. I looked down at her arm where the tear had fell, splattered on her wrist. In that spot her skin had lost that pale color and instead had turned a light pink flesh color. When I saw this I burst out in tears and they were rolling down my face and splattering on my mom like raindrops. Everywhere a tear dropped the skin turned flesh color and began to get warm again.

I tried to scream for my father but it was stuck in my throat.
I swallowed again and again trying to get the scream out. Finally it escaped and it was the loudest most deafening scream I have ever yelled. My father and everyone came running into the room, rushing to my side. I stood over mom allowing the tears to flow freely now. I saw his eyes when he looked and saw that where my tears had fell her skin was pink and warm. How could this be happening? I didn’t know how and I didn’t care.

All I knew was that my tears were brining my mother back to life, one drop at a time.

(c) Feb 2013 Shelly Tennyson Taylor


11 responses »

  1. Shelly, I lost my mom three years ago. I didn’t experience the same ending as the character in your story, but the feelings and emotions you communicate in the beginning of the story are very real and reflective of some of the odd connections and thoughts that pass through your mind when you stand in front of the casket of a loved one.

    Great story.

  2. Hi Shelly,

    After reading your story, I wonder if the narrator is now an adult reflecting? Or if the narrator is still young.

    The move you make with tears, using them as a vehicle to move the story to its conclusion, is brilliant. I like the way that you left it. I read a sliver of hope there–not for bringing mom back to life; but for moving on.


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