Saying Goodbye by R.T Hardwick

'It's just a matter of time.'

The doctor looked at me with sympathy on his honest face.

'There's not a lot more we can do. You're welcome to stay with him. Talk to him. There's every chance he can hear you.'

I nodded as the doctor left the ward.

My father lay on his back on pearl-white hospital sheets, eyes closed. He seemed the very epitome of serenity.

I looked down at him. His once ruddy, fleshy, cheerful face was now the countenance of a scarecrow, with skin stretched across gaunt cheekbones, bloodless lips and an ash-grey complexion.

'I've come to say goodbye, dad. I wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me - you brought me up well, helped me all my life, and stayed my friend, even when we moved away.'

His breathing became shallower and less rhythmical. He was a trooper, though, and he'd resist to the bitter end.

'Christine sends her love. She couldn't come - grandchildren, you know. I'm sure you understand.'

His eyelids seem to flicker a little when I mentioned my wife's name.

‘I’ll carry out your wishes regarding the funeral. You’ll be buried alongside mother. You’ll soon be with her again, after all these years. That must be a comfort to you.'

I swear I saw a tiny smile tug at the corners of his mouth.

He started fighting for breath, gasps and gurgles issuing from the deepest recesses of his throat. Suddenly, he gave a sort of hiccough and his head fell over to one side.

‘Doctor,’ I yelled, ‘Doctor.’

The doctor strode in and felt for a pulse. He shook his head and left to summon the mortuary porter.

I bent over and kissed my dad on his cold, grey brow.

‘I love you, dad, never forget that.’

Winner - Weekly Write - Week 9

Published in Issue #27

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