Fiction Drama Happy

“Don’t go in there, they are having a family conversation.” The head nurse said, winking to her staff.

“But what about the Thanksgiving meal, it’s ready to be served?” said the hospital orderly.

“Leave it until later, let’s not disturb them. What they are talking about is more important than a Thanksgiving dinner!” The head nurse said emphatically.

“Leave them be for now!” It was the full stop on any further conversation from the staff, her face projected one recognizable image, don’t question me!

Dawn looked on at her parents with mixed feelings. There was the underlying feeling of anger tinged with hopelessness, and then there was a feeling of guilt. She had been found out!

The hospital’s private room was quiet, only the mumbling of voices in the corridor beyond the closed door could be heard. Both her parents were in hospital beds sitting up looking ahead, with empty expressions of tiredness, they were weary and shocked from the catastrophic incident of the fire. No one spoke, but the thoughts, the talking inside the heads of each of the three was incessant. Unanswered questions, worries, concerns, the fire had created a lightning strike of reality for all members of the family.

Dawn’s father broke the heavy silence. The trauma of the fire, the overriding panic of not finding Dawn inside the burning rooms of the house, the subsequent shock of seeing her appear from nowhere outside their blazing home, started to recede. Now it was being replaced by the familiar icy dark shadow climbing the walls of the ward, crawling slowly across the ceiling, and like tentacles dropped onto his body, his mind, he needed answers. He was angry!

“Where were you this morning, before light? Why weren’t you in bed asleep?” As the words started to come, so did the acid taste, the acid tone, the last word was spat out of his mouth in distaste. He finished with a glare towards his daughter. He demanded answers.

“I was out!” stammered Dawn.

“OUT!” shouted the father.

Before the shouting match between father and daughter commenced, the mother interrupted the conversation, immediately defending her daughter, and bringing the skeleton of their continued grievances into the conversation.

“Why can’t you talk without shouting, do you have some kind of affliction? It’s always the same with you, you are a bully and dictator, you treat me and Dawn like idiots, because of your own inadequacies. You turn your anger and frustration onto your loved ones!”

“I raise my voice a little, because my wife treats me like the invisible man, and when she does speak to me, she speaks with hate and vengeance!” said the father, the blood now visible in his ruddy face, the telltale signs of the veins in his neck standing out as the blood raced to his head, and all sense of calm and patience was rushing like a tidal wave to drown any reasonability, the dark shadow had its captures, the skeleton of their endless disagreement was being wrestled in the space between the hospital beds.

“STOP IT! STOP IT!” shrieked Dawn, as she instinctively raised her hands to her ears, trying to shut out the start of the endless argument between her parents, a festering, pulsating open wound of animosity.

One of the nurses opened the door and poked her head into the room.

“Is everything OK here, I heard shouting!” She looked at the family of three in the room with an expression of authority. As there was no answer, she finished the conversation with “Just keep the volume down OK – this is a hospital.” The head of the nurse disappeared behind the slowly closing door.

The interruption helped, the tension in the room eased slightly.

“Darling, where were you last night? Your father and I nearly lost our lives searching the house for you.” The mother restarted the line of enquiry, the core of the conversation, which led to so many unanswered questions. The fire was catastrophic, but it was in the shocking past, the circumstances of seeing Dawn walk up the street in the early morning light, the house ablaze, had caused more lingering doubt and conjecture. “What were you doing outside?

How did the fire start, do you know?” 

“We couldn’t find you in the house darling, we searched and searched, and we gave up. We gave up on our only beautiful daughter.” The mother started to cry. The father reached out a supporting hand, he too shared that feeling of hopelessness, when they both staggered out of the blazing building, with all hope lost of finding their daughter, losing hope, that feeling triggered a mutual feeling between the parents, for a moment the skeleton, and that pervading inky black tentacles of the dark shadow receded. The parents shared a love for Dawn; their only daughter, it surpassed their anger and frustration. It ruptured the hold of the dark shadow. Some sort of realization, a clearing of the dark clouds of their endless fighting had occurred, a lightning strike, followed by cloud separation and a slender beam of light. The beginning of an understanding of what was important.

Dawn sensed it, now was a moment that she had to confess. She had her part to play. To encourage the widening of the dark clouds, allowing light to appear on the endless stressful drama, more visibility on her circumstances in the endless drama, her pain, and her secrets before morning light vigil.

“I was in the factory.” she admitted.

“The old derelict factory? Nobody goes there. It’s dangerous. What were you doing there, for god’s sake!” said the shocked father, anger now was replaced with concern, worry. His worried face was now matched by the mother, all she could utter was. “Darling!” No other words came, an open mouth, Dawn could see her mother’s mind whirling in confusion. Her eyes of pity and questioning, welling with tears, stared at Dawn.

“I go there to shoot my gun, to let my anger out, to unload.” Dawn confessed.

“Your continuous rowing, shouting every night, does my head in!” She continued.

“I’m a bystander to your nightly fights, listening, watching, endless fighting, the gun, the shooting is for me to release my emotions, I shoot thousands of hummingbirds, but really I am shooting at an image of every bad word, of every negative thought.”

“I go out before light every morning and shoot imaginary hummingbirds! You think I’m mad? Yes, I’m going mad in that house listening to your endless arguing.”

The father was speechless, he looked at the mother, grasping for some consolation, a facial expression of sympathy, something to ease his mind which was full of chaotic thoughts. The rows, the fighting, the dark shadow that gripped all the members of the family, would result in tragedy, far greater than the fire. The fire was a warning, a near miss of a far greater loss, if they didn’t change their ways. All he could mumble between his guilty thoughts and fears was.

“You’re better than this Dawny! We’re better than this, it must end! It ends now!

They all three collapsed on one of the beds in a crumpled heap of limbs, the torrents of tears open like flood gates, the years of underlying tension started to wash away. The tears like acid dissolved the skeleton of wrath, the dark shadow vanished when the light appeared with the parting of the dark clouds.

“We’re sorry, Dawny.” Her parents sobbed. “We’ve been so selfish.”

“It all started with that stupid factory, when you both lost your jobs.” Said Dawn. “Everything was alright before that.” The parents solemnly nodded in agreement.

“Let’s leave this town, and start afresh, there’s nothing here now, not even a house.” Said the father. Both mother and daughter nodded, eyes full of tears of reconciliation.

The father continued. “I also have a confession.” Both daughter and mother pulled back from the combined hugging, and then peered into the face of the father, no words, just a questioning look.

“I think I left the oven on last night, by mistake and the roasting turkey must have caught fire!”

The door of the ward suddenly opened, and the hot food trolley appeared fighting its way through the open door.

“Thanksgiving dinner, everybody!”

November 28, 2023 10:23

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John Rutherford
09:20 Dec 07, 2023

Thanks - it's the second part of the story. The story DAWN is the first part.


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Lyle Closs
08:33 Dec 07, 2023

Great story. The ending was excellent - I expected it to be Dawn who had started the fire.


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John Rutherford
06:33 Dec 07, 2023

It's part 2 of DAWN. Read the first the vision of the Hummingbird is significant. Do you think this is too dark for YA age group?


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Michał Przywara
21:45 Dec 06, 2023

No wonder Dawn was stressed out and losing her mind - you paint a picture of a tremendously dysfunctional family. They're at the hospital, they both nearly just died, and then at the drop of a hat they go from dazed to angry, and immediately drag up all their old arguments and sniping. It's telling too, that Dawn's big secret is, she was just trying to de-stress. I assumed it would be something like her being out with a boy, or maybe something darker like she started the fire, but no - it's about the most inoccuous thing possible. (Well, g...


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John Rutherford
07:17 Nov 30, 2023

Turkey will save any day and crisis


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Mary Bendickson
20:19 Nov 29, 2023

Think the turkey saved the day.


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Iain Aitken
13:43 Nov 29, 2023

Family torment…


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