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Drama Fiction

Moments. Some matter and some don’t. Some are good while others are bad. Some fly by us at the speed of light, not allowing us to even notice what happened in that glimpse of time. Others slow down to a halt, giving you a minute to take in the importance, or severity of the occasion because it’s going to change your life.


My wife Sarah and I had just finished cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. Our son Johnny was out on a date with his girlfriend Stacey. We didn’t expect him home for another four hours. The wine at dinner had us feeling frisky and Sarah snapped me with a dish towel as I was rinsing out the sink.


“What do you say stud, a little more wine, a little music, a couple dances, and then we make our way into the bedroom,” she purred as she slithered her way towards me like a serpent ready to strike. Putting her arms around my neck, she gave me a long, deep, passionate kiss.


“You get the music. I’ll get the wine.”


Over the sounds of soft jazz came a knock at the front door. I answered it with a bottle of Merlot and two glasses in my hands. There, on the doorstep, was a uniformed officer that removed his hat and placed it against his chest with regret in his eyes.


Glass shattered on the floor and a pool of red, like blood, spilled across the entryway.


Sarah came running at the sound of the crash dressed in a silk nightgown. “Honey, are you okay?”


And then she sees the officer. “No.”


“I regret to inform you that your son was in an accident. He was alive when he was taken from the scene to County Memorial, but I suggest you folks' hurry.


Sarah threw her clothes back on and we raced to the hospital. We drove in silence, neither of us wanting to say what we were thinking. Sarah was visibly shaking, and it was the first time I had craved a cigarette in fifteen years. Every stoplight was painstakingly troublesome. I would shift in my seat and drum my fingers on the steering wheel. Sarah’s leg bounced ninety to nothing as she uncharacteristically chewed on her nails.


When we reached the hospital, we were directed to the OR waiting room. No one would tell us anything. The news story on TV in the waiting room was about a pile-up on the freeway heading into the city. Johnny and Stacey must have been heading that way for their date when a tractor-trailer lost control on a patch of ice, causing collision after collision. The video from the stations sky-cam was gruesome. We couldn’t count the cars. There was no tally of the dead or injured yet. The only real news was that the eastbound lanes would be closed while they cleared out the wreckage.


Stacey’s parents showed up. We explained what little we knew. We told them about the pile-up on the freeway. Stacey’s father went to the nurse's station demanding to talk to someone but got nowhere. An hour later, a doctor came out to let them know that Stacey had passed on. Our hearts broke for them. It made us worry for our own child all the more. We tried to console them but, understandably, they wanted to go home.


Sarah caught the doctor before he disappeared.


“This is what I know about your son. He is still in surgery. It looks like he is going to pull through. They will be taking him up to the ICU in another thirty minutes or so. I know that his lower spinal cord was severed. He will never walk again. There was nerve damage done to his left arm. He will never use that arm again. There was severe trauma to the brain. He will have to relearn how to talk again along with a number of motor skills. With time and therapy, you will have a fraction of the son you remember back.”


Sarah had her head burrowed into my arm and I sat there with my mouth hanging open. Time had stopped for me, giving me a minute to wrap my mind around the moment. Sound was muffled and everything ceased to move. Visions of my son raced through my mind. Johnny crawling to me and pulling himself up to take his first steps towards Sarah. Throwing him in the air, listening to him squeal. Wrestling on the bed. Listening to him tell me stories about dinosaurs. Letting go of the bike as he took off by himself for the first time. His first point in a karate tournament. His mother screaming at him when he was at the top of a tree in the front yard. His lead role in the school play. Him trotting the bases after his first home run in little league. Our long talks during fishing trips. His sixty-yard carry for a touchdown freshman year. How handsome he looked standing next to Stacey before homecoming this past fall. He’ll never know the love of a woman. He will never know the joy of being a father.


Time caught up when Sarah tugged on my arm. “They’re going to let us see him,” she said with a sniffle.


We went upstairs to the ICU. Johnny was in a cast from both feet all the way up to his lower back. He had another one on his left arm. His head was wrapped in bandages. His face was heavily bruised. He was surrounded by monitors and machines with readouts I couldn’t understand. Those were surrounded with a curtain for privacy. I fell to one knee at my son’s bedside and sobbed heavily. The doctor gave me a brief moment and then put a hand on my shoulder.


“I’m sorry, but you have to go. There are no visitors allowed in the ICU. I was making a special exception, just in case. He has a long road ahead of him.”


I stood up, drying my eyes and wiping my nose on my sleeve. Sarah took my arm, and we headed home.


5 years later


I walk through the front door with my arms full. I have two pizzas, a birthday cake, and a surprise present for Johnny… and Sarah. The two are in the kitchen fighting again. Johnny wants something out of the fridge, so he keeps opening the door. Sarah doesn’t want him having anything, so she keeps slamming it shut.


Johnny still has trouble communicating. He can’t quite get his tongue to work right. Sometimes we can make out what he’s saying, but most of the time we can’t. Sarah is persistent, maybe a bit relentless with trying to get him to talk and play games. He just gets frustrated and yells, throws things, sometimes hits. The thing with Johnny is that he knows what he wants to say and do. He knows what everyone else is saying and doing. He has memories from before the crash and depression is a problem with him. He’s frustrated, he’s embarrassed, he’s depressed, he’s anxious, he’s lonely.


“Dad’s home,” says Martha, our live in nurse, and she wheels him over to the table for dinner.


I take the food into the kitchen and kiss my wife who is stressed to the gills. She takes two slices of pizza and puts them in the blender, liquidizing them.


“What do you want to drink buddy?”


“Rora.”


“No, no soda. You can have water, or you’ll pee the bed,” Sarah says.


“Argh,” Johnny yells as he slams his good fist on the table.


I lean into Sarah so not to undermine her in front of Johnny, “Let the boy have a soda. It’s his birthday. Besides, he wets the bed no matter what you give him. It’s not his fault.”


Sarah sighs and says to Johnny, “One soda with dinner and that is it. You guzzle it down and that’s your problem, mister.”


Johnny has to have his food pureed because he’s a choking hazard. He likes to feed himself, but it gets a little messy. It’s a constant fighting point between Johnny and his mom. I try to stay out of it.


“John, you’re getting it all over yourself. Here, let mommy help,” Sarah says, taking the spoon out of Johnny’s hand.


“Argh, O,” Johnny screams in protest.


“Yes, or you’re not getting any cake,” Sarah scolds.


Johnny responds by flipping his plate, sending pizza all over his mother. This I think is funny, but I dare not laugh. We wait for Sarah to change, then I suggest opening the presents and trying dinner again later, bringing in the surprise gift that is for both of them.


Johnny rips the paper off the package and his eyes light up. Sarah’s brow furrow. “A Wii? He’s not going to be able to play that. It’s just another thing for him to throw at me,” Sarah says.


Johnny gives her a scowl.


“Just give it a try,” I tell her as I take it to the TV, Martha wheeling Johnny in behind me.


I get it hooked up. I hand one controller to Sara, who rolls her eyes before taking it, and hand the other to Johnny. I set the game to Wii Bowling. Johnny goes first.


“Here, honey, let me help you,” Sarah says, reaching for his controller.


Johnny pulls the controller out of reach and before they could start fighting, I say, “Let him do it.”


With his good arm he lines up his shot and rolls the ball, knocking down eight pins. Sarah’s eyes open wide, surprised.


“Good job, buddy,” she says.


Johnny took his second turn and picked up the spare. The game got competitive after that. They started trash talking and trying to distract one another. They began to laugh and have a good time as the game went from bowling to tennis to baseball to golf. They played for hours as I sat there watching them bond in a way I hadn’t seen since before the accident. Then they finally called it quits. Sarah leaned down, and they sincerely hugged it out. Tears dripped between the two of them. I have to admit that mine got pretty wet too. In that moment, time stopped again.


 Moments. Some matter and some don’t. Some are good while others are bad. Some fly by us at the speed of light, not allowing us to even notice what happened in that glimpse of time. Others slow down to a halt, giving you a minute to take in the importance, or severity of the occasion because it’s going to change your life. What’s important is that we seize as many of those moments as we can with the people we love while they are with us because you never know when the moments might disappear.

February 06, 2024 07:24

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6 comments

Mary Bendickson
19:58 Feb 06, 2024

Precious story on so many levels. It should be a winner. It is even if it doesn't take a prize.

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Christy Morgan
03:24 Feb 07, 2024

Your opening paragraph drew me in - there are so many eternal truths housed in it, and I love how it's cleverly repeated at the end. It's a unique way of coming at the prompt, and one that resonates with the human experience. We're all guilty of not appreciating moments in the moment. Well written, Ty! The goal of writing is connecting with readers -- you have succeeded!

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Trudy Jas
17:20 Feb 06, 2024

A winner, Ty! Loved how you repeated the beginning at the end. How the MC let Mother and son "fight it out" with Wii. Great job.

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Stella Aurelius
15:58 Feb 06, 2024

Very touching story (also, great title!).

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Hannah Lynn
14:43 Feb 06, 2024

Life can change in an instant. A great reminder to appreciate the good moments, to work on making more of them.

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Claire Trbovic
07:38 Feb 06, 2024

Lovely piece, so heartwarming, A* title!

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