|The prompt for this post|
We all know he doesn't have much time. It's happening. Death is coming, tonight, and we have no way of stopping it. We've tried to delay it - for weeks and months on end, as soon as we finally, finally figured out what was wrong with him. But everything was in vain, of course, because it wasn't enough.
I don't know why we persevered as long and as much as we did. Nothing was ever enough around here. Never has been, never will be.
We live in a forgotten square in the outskirts of a bustling town, where nothing ever happens. Well - nothing good. Hunger, pain, illnesses, and anger are all we ever know. They're what I've known since I was born.
I thought it was normal - I thought it was how life was supposed to be. Until I was five, anyway, when he deemed me ready to see the "world". He took me to the heart of the city and showed me how different food and time would mean for other people outside of our pathetic little square.
I wailed in anger and frustration, and he let me. And then he told me, "Kid, it's okay. We're okay."
"No, we're not!" Five-year-old me was able to see the truth, finally. "We're like animals to these people!"
He sighed, as if disappointed. In me, for not showing the dignity and pride he'd tried to teach me all those years despite everything we didn't have, or in life, for not being fair? Maybe both. Or maybe in the god he always spoke of, for not giving us the reality these people had.
"We're fine. We always have food on our table, and clothes on our body, and a roof over our heads."
He told me a long speech about being grateful all the way home. A speech I didn't care to listen to. I knew what I wanted, and I knew what he wanted me to do, to feel, was not how I was going to get it.
And five years later, here we are. Him on his death bed, and me in the corner of the room, watching his chest rise and fall, rise and fall with such difficulty I wonder how he's still with me.
He wakes up, in the midst of all the heaving, his eyes looking for me. I come to him and take his hands in mine. He tries to smile. He's trying to make me feel better, but as usual, I only feel worse.
"Listen, Kid," he whispers, his voice as rash as sand and cold as the winter. "I'm sorry for everything."
"No," is all I manage to say.
"I guess we weren't as fine as I wanted us to be. I thought-" he coughs, throwing out what little life he has left in him with each one, "I thought you would be okay because I was okay with what we had. Because- because I had you. And you were the best thing I've ever truly had in my life."
The funeral is simple. We put his body in a pit and burn it, along with everything he ever lived for.
My sister cries beside me, her hand clutching at mine. "What will we ever do?" she asks.
I shake my head. "We'll figure it out. It may be tough at first," I kneel and look at her in the eyes, "...but if anyone asks, tell them we're fine."
Because we will be, Kid. As long as I have you, and you have me.