Leaving you

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt

103 comments

Drama

The air was cold, a sign of the bleak seasons to come. The wind had a chill to it, one that passed through my thin autumn jacket, exposing me, leaving me cold with the bitter taste of vulnerability on my tongue. The jacket was an old one, one my dad had purchased for a long forgotten birthday years past. I clung to it, clinging to the sense of normality and comfort that it provided. It was a folly. Nothing brought me comfort these days. The hyperventilating breaths of frosty air, and the fresh tears making their way down my face were barely an indicator for the turmoil I felt inside. 

It happened too fast; almost as if i blinked, and everything i had before was overturned, disrupted, and never to be the same. I sat down on the rotting corpse of what was left of a bench, wincing at the acute pain from the splinters poking through the back of my jacket, digging into my soft flesh. I sag into the wood, the reality sinking in, this was it. I was really alone this time. I reach into my pocket, pulling out a pack of cigarettes. I feel the texture of the box in an attempt to ground myself. Slowly, I pull out a cigarette, reaching into my pocket again for the lighter. As I strike the lighter, the bright yellow-orange flame engulfs the end of the tobacco, turning it to a soft orange glow of embers. I methodically inhale to feel the acute discomfort for which I have longed. Eventually, I exhale. It’s hard to say why or when I started this toxic habit, the irony of it is almost laughable. Here I am, smoking a cigarette, doing the one thing that took his spirit, his last breath. 

I suppose it began with me sitting down with a friend. I was distraught and unable to calm down, not unusual for me these days. I asked her for advice, yet the little information she gave did not satisfy my need for closure. Finally, after about a half hour of this, she pulled a pack of cigs out of her back pocket of the side of her jeans closest to me. Then pulled one out, lighting and taking a drag. I watched her for some time before she offered me one. At that moment, I wasn't sure what came over me; except that I just didn’t care anymore. I needed to feel. I slowly took the cigarette out of her hand, feeling almost a sense of remorse for the damage I knew I was about to do. Yet, that was merely a transient feeling, overshadowed by the need to feel, the need for this numbness to go away. It did, even if only for a little while.  

It was getting colder and I could feel the wind begin to drop in temperature. I welcomed the cold temperatures, knowing that none of it mattered. I was untouchable. I had nothing left to lose. I remember the exact day that began this downward spiral. This manipulation of my emotions from an unseen cause I couldn't fix. It was simple. My dad was scheduled to have his appointment at the hospital for his bronchitis followup and then we were to go out to lunch. He was originally supposed to meet me at the diner, but plans changed. Everything changed. 

10:11 am. He should be back by now, it was bronchitis. It wasn’t usual for an appointment like this to take hours and it certainly wasn’t like him to miss several calls. I sighed, attempting to quell my growing concern. It was well into the afternoon, long past lunchtime. I sat down by the window, pressing myself against the glass. The rain was pouring down heavily in sheets. It was so loud against the roof, you almost missed the thunderous clouds booming above. The roads were covered with rain water and nearly every car that passed by my apartment hydroplaned. I stood up after a few more minutes and began to pace along the floor. It was a hardwood floor, cold against my feet, and it sent a chill through my body. The decor was cheap. Living in the city was much more expensive than I had previously anticipated.  Most of the furniture was used, the couch had been free from a yardsale. It seemed mismatched by anyone else’s standards, but to me it was home.  

It took another half an hour before I heard keys jingle at the door. It took all of my newfound adult self-control not to pounce on my dad. I settled on giving him a quick hug before pulling away to take a good look at him. He looked exhausted. There were dark circles under his eyes, and he looked at his wits end. For a second, I stood with my mouth agape, not quite sure what to say. I had never seen my dad this frazzled before and it scared me. That wasn’t half as bad as when he opened his mouth. The word he spoke acting as a poison, flowing from his mouth and attacking my brain. Never would I have associated this word with my father. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I couldn't even think. My dad, my rock, couldn't have Cancer. 

My dad and I had always been close, ever since my mom died when  I was 7. I don't remember her much. The only constant in my life has been my dad. He came to every school award ceremony, was always cheering me on at every softball game, helped me with my homework, and was there the entire time helping me get into the university of my choice. He made sure I never needed a thing. He was always there for me, and I suppose his unwavering support was something I took for granted. I never thought of the fact that it might not always be there. That he might not always be there. 

It was hard at first, getting used to the chemo, the sickness, how frail he had become. It was hard watching him on oxygen, barely able to talk, and too weak to move. I tried to stay strong for him. I tried to be there. For the first while, I spent every day with him in the hospital that I could, always crying myself to sleep. Unconsciously and unintentionally, I began to distance myself from him. I couldn’t watch him go through this. I couldn't be that person. I realized this when his beautiful brown hair started coming out in clumps. He was too young to be bald. 56 is too young to be bald. It’s too soon. It’s too soon for him to die. I suppose that's the point though. Life was never fair. You just have to make the best of what you have before it’s too late. 

Eventually, when my dad became less aware, I stopped visiting. I couldn’t take the sickness, the confusion. I couldn't watch him slowly deteriorate and die an agonizingly slow death. I knew I should be there for him and that if it was me in there, he would never have left my side. The guilt was tearing me apart, eating me alive. I just couldn’t go back. I needed a distraction, so I threw myself into work with a fervor like never before. My co-workers tried to lessen my work load, they made me food, invited me out to dinner with them, yet I would never accept. Why should I be happy? What did I have to be happy about? I felt powerless. I would die for my dad in a heartbeat. Yet this was something I couldn't fix, something that I couldn't save him from. I still remember the last visit I had with him. I remembered the last words he spoke to me forever burned into my psyche. 

We had been bickering all day, and tensions were only rising. My dad knew what I was doing, and I had never seen him that angry before. Watching him grow sicker and sicker had only strengthened my unconscious resolve that I couldn't be around. Watching him lean on a nurse for help to his bed after another chemo round, it made me sick to my stomach. I began to gather my stuff from the various places around the room, tears slipping down my nose, into my mouth, their saltiness making me wince. Looking sadly at me, my dad asked hesitantly, almost as if the answer I would supply was going to disappoint him, as if I was going to make him cry:

“Where are you going?” 

The question didn’t phase me, it only made it harder for me to hold in the sobs. I turned around, looking him in the eyes, and only saw sadness. When a single tear fell down his cheek, it took all I had not to scream. I refused to turn back around, not acknowledging a word spoken to me. I picked up my bag, and without looking behind me, I left. However, not before i caught my father’s parting thoughts:

    “You’ve made this a life well lived. No matter what they say, this is the hardest part.”

The words were spoken so softly and with such devastation I almost didn’t catch them. It wasn’t until years later that I realized he meant saying goodbye to me.

    It had been weeks since I had even last heard from the hospital, and I pretended it was a good thing, even though the growing pit in my stomach told me it was anything but. I was sitting at my desk when my boss pulled me aside, asking me to step into his office. I could feel that something was wrong, yet I did not know what. Was I getting fired? He stayed silent for a few moments, before clearing his throat. I was not prepared for what he was about to say. He told me it was my dad, that it was critical. He told me at some point i could have off some time, but by that point i was gathering my stuff, and barely heard a word he said. 

    I broke nearly every speed limit on my way to the hospital, then waited in the waiting room for nearly an hour to get the chance to speak with my father’s doctor, hoping he might assuage my concerns. The doctor did anything but. He was unconscious, and on life support. He was dying. I choked on my breath, and as soon as I was done talking to the doctor, walked directly out of the hospital. It’s been nearly 20 minutes now, and i know it’s time to say goodbye. I waited too long. It was too late to fix this, but he at least deserved a goodbye. My rock, my protector, my best friend, and my dad. 

    Shivering, I got up from the bench, not even bothering to stretch. What was the point? I was alone now, alone and powerless to fix my mistakes. I waited too long, and now I can never tell my dad I loved him. I can only hope he knows. He’ll be with mom now. I walk through the automatic doors, scuffing my shoes on the dirty tile floor of the waiting room. I wait in line for the elevator, trying to ignore the woman standing next to me attempting to make polite conversation. I just cannot bear to contain my grief. I wait until I hear the ding for my floor, then exit the elevator. I walk to his room, knowing this is it. This is my final goodbye. I slip into his room, and sit on the hard plastic chair next to his bedside. I grab his hand, feeling how cold and limp it is already. There are a million things I wish I could say to him, but nothing fits. Nothing makes sense. Nothing i could say could possibly describe how sorry i am. Nothing can even begin to describe how much I love him. I sit there for a long time just holding his hand, staring at his face. 

    I gently kiss his hand, before laying it back on the hospital bed. I lean back into the hard plastic chair for a few moments, before finally standing up. I lean down next to his ear and whisper my final words to him. 

    “I love you daddy” 

September 12, 2020 02:14

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103 comments

Brennan Bilberry
23:22 Sep 25, 2020

Simply beautiful and Heart Wrenching. Thank you for writing this.

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Spirited Wings
23:27 Sep 22, 2020

Such a beautifully written tale. You have talent! This was a delight to read!

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18:05 Sep 20, 2020

Hey, this first video editing would be like to watch it it's on Harry potter https://youtu.be/KxfnREWgN14 Sorry for incovince

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Paige Mackey
18:09 Sep 20, 2020

The link doesn’t exist

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18:12 Sep 20, 2020

Just click on the line and copy that the option comes, I really checked it just now

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18:13 Sep 20, 2020

And if still not if you wish you can start your Instagram or any other social media account. Sorry to ask this from you

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Paige Mackey
18:31 Sep 20, 2020

I watched it but I’m very confused as to what this has to do with writing.

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18:35 Sep 20, 2020

It's just for Harry Potter fans those who love reading books. Sorry if it bothered you, I would not share any kind of link then

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Paige Mackey
18:46 Sep 20, 2020

It’s ok

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Amer Acil
15:47 Sep 20, 2020

Hi I saw your story and I liked it , so if you have an Instagram account I would be verry sincere if you gave it to me

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Paige Mackey
16:52 Sep 20, 2020

Would you be interested in talking about writing?

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Amer Acil
16:59 Sep 20, 2020

Yes , that's the reason I asked for because I see that you are talented and we can benefit each other

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Paige Mackey
17:49 Sep 20, 2020

Ok... I’d like to keep it all about writing though! paige_mackey1824

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Gip Roberts
20:03 Sep 18, 2020

Tobacco is one of the most complex addictions ever, and you captured that amazingly with the story. I'm almost afraid to like this because it was so sad, but the writing was so excellent.

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Paige Mackey
16:53 Sep 20, 2020

❤️ that means so much to me!! Thank you!!!

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15:18 Sep 18, 2020

You made me cry! You are extremely talented. I can't wait to read more of your work.

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Paige Mackey
16:54 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you!! I can’t wait to share more with you!!!

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John Del Rio
00:44 Sep 18, 2020

so well written. i was cutting onions somewhere in this story: quite a few of them by the end. such haunting feelings and sense of regret. some think you are showing the unfairness of life; but you are really just showing life. sadly; death is a part of life. i will continue to read your work as long as you continue to write them.

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Paige Mackey
11:52 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you!!!! That really means a lot. Sorry about the onions!!!❤️

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Adrian Stolecki
00:04 Sep 18, 2020

Great story! Really good descriptions and use of language that carries heavy emotions with it. One thing I noticed though, is that the narrator switches from past to present tense while still telling the same fragment of the story. Other than that, awesome job!

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Paige Mackey
11:54 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you so much!!! Yeah I had noticed I had done that after submission lol not my finest moment😂 but thank you so much for the read! It means a lot❤️

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Blane Britt
22:27 Sep 17, 2020

Loved your story.

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Paige Mackey
11:54 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you so much!!!

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Alby Carter
22:11 Sep 17, 2020

I love it! Excellent job!

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Paige Mackey
11:54 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you!!!’

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Charles Stucker
22:02 Sep 17, 2020

Before I start- I only post critiques/comments on people who show talent. So, if I spent time on you, it means something positive about your writing, whatever my blunt manner may sound like. almost as if i blinked, and everything i had before- spell check will catch capitalization errors. My dad and I had always been close, ever since my mom died when  I was 7. I've seen a lot of people putting in numbers. Single digits are spelled out, unless accompanied by AM, PM, or similar exceptions. OTOH this is first person, so rules relax, pa...

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Paige Mackey
11:57 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you so much for your time and effort. I greatly appreciate the time you put into reading it and critiquing it. Thank you so so much! I will definitely be adding these into my next story. Thank you for your time you have no idea how much it means to me!

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Sjan Evardsson
21:17 Sep 17, 2020

What a beautiful, sad story. The inner struggle is palpable. I caught a small thing - in the second paragraph you shifted from past tense to present tense for the second half of the paragraph, then the rest of the story returns to past tense. Beyond that, I wouldn't recommend changing a thing. Well written, and a worthy read. Stay safe and keep writing.

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Paige Mackey
11:57 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you so much!!!❤️

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Mark Lutz
20:56 Sep 17, 2020

You continue to amaze! Great job!-Jill

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Paige Mackey
11:57 Sep 18, 2020

Thank you so much!!!!❤️ That means a lot!!!!

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Lauren K
19:45 Sep 17, 2020

Your story is beautiful! I love the name of the title as well. Keep writing!

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Paige Mackey
20:39 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate it❤️

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Aveena Bordeaux
19:10 Sep 17, 2020

Wow, I like this. I was super in tune with your character and felt all their emotions. You have such good writing style and you're descriptive, which is a huge plus in writing. This was great!

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Paige Mackey
20:39 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you!!!!❤️

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Maya W.
19:08 Sep 17, 2020

What a wonderful story! I love your writing style! All I really need to say critique wise is that your paragraphs are really long, and your sentences are a little indirect. Maybe instead of having long, indirect paragraphs use shorter, more direct sentences that connect well to the splintered thoughts. But all in all, a wonderful story! I also saw that you liked my story, Bitter Rain. Would you mind commenting or reading some of my other stories, too? Thanks!

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Paige Mackey
20:42 Sep 17, 2020

Of course I can check out your other stories!! And thank you so much!! And that’s a valid point! I’m not great at paragraph separation lol definitely something I need to work on. Thank you so much!!❤️

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Maya W.
20:44 Sep 17, 2020

Yeah, of course! Thanks!

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A.G. Scott
18:51 Sep 17, 2020

This is good, but I think it could be better if you were a little more economical. I'll use your first paragraph for an example. "The air was cold, a sign of the bleak seasons to come." - bleak seasons is needlessly vague; just say winter or fall, whatever it is you mean. "The wind had a chill to it, one that passed through my thin autumn jacket, exposing me, leaving me cold with the bitter taste of vulnerability on my tongue." - Saying the wind has a chill to it implies that the character is cold, you don't need to tell us. Als...

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Paige Mackey
18:55 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you for the critiques!! I really appreciate the time you put into helping me!! Definitely noted. Thank you so much!!❤️

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Mariam Mansuryan
19:04 Sep 17, 2020

I think you are unnecessarily criticising what makes the story so poetic and beautiful. I also enjoy simplicity, but I feel the poetic tone is this author's handwriting and gives a lot of colors to a story like this.

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Paige Mackey
19:06 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you!! That’s really sweet💕

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A.G. Scott
19:09 Sep 17, 2020

All due respect @ Mariam, a writer should want to be criticized. You can be poetic without repeating words and being redundant, and there are spots where she does a very good job of this. I did say she conveys emotion well. On the technical side of things, she certainly doesn't have to take my advice, because who am I? I'm just offering information that might resonate with her, or might not. It all comes from a place of wanting her to write the best story she can. It's pretty much useless to praise someone if you're not going to try to h...

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Mariam Mansuryan
19:14 Sep 17, 2020

I love criticizing myself, and usually the comments I leave do include criticism. I was just criticizing the criticism in this case because "bleak seasons" is much more metaphorical and representative than simply saying "winter" or "autumn". A bleak season means a bleak season in life as well, which doesn't at all seem redundant to me. Good luck with your writing too. M.

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Paige Mackey
21:54 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you both in your consideration for my writing!! I appreciate all critiques and criticism. Thank you for reading❤️

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Paige Mackey
21:53 Sep 17, 2020

I definitely appreciate your criticism, it helps me to better my writing and my focus! Thank you!!!

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B. W.
17:58 Sep 17, 2020

Hey i really liked this story and you did a great job! guess what? this get's a 10/10 :)

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Paige Mackey
18:07 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you so much!!!❤️ That’s so sweet

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B. W.
18:09 Sep 17, 2020

No problem ^^ i think i'll check out the rest of your stories soon

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Paige Mackey
18:14 Sep 17, 2020

❤️

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B. W.
18:15 Sep 17, 2020

Hm, do you maybe know how to do some things with novels? i'm working on one and i think i might need some help

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Paige Mackey
18:40 Sep 17, 2020

I’m currently writing one too! I’d love to help!!

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Dalyane Deblois
00:16 Sep 17, 2020

Wow! This is a very beautiful and touching story❤ great writing and I love how we can connect to her feelings! The throwbacks really bring us to slowly understand her! I really enjoyed reading your story, I felt so sad for your character!!

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Paige Mackey
18:08 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you!!! I appreciate your comment so much!!!🥺

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