Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/03/14

The old man hobbled along, and I thought his cane was the only thing that kept him standing. “So. Any words of wisdom, old guy?”

He swept his arm in an arch, “Used to be a hospital.”

“A hospital?”

“Yeah.” He paused. I knew this was part of learning what had been. About the world he’d grown up in. “Where sick people came. Where hurt people came. To get medicine. To get broken bones splinted. To get stitches. To get saved when they got sick.”

We walked through the old building. Shattered tiles on the walls, parts of lights hanging down, here and there, missing drop ceilings that revealed a hodgepodge of pipes, tubes, cables, and duct-work. Stained concrete floors, the flooring long removed, stolen for other uses.

“Sentara Norfolk General, they called it.” He wandered through the halls, past empty rooms with remains of beds, broken windows, lamps, and strange machines that no longer worked, and looked like they hadn’t worked in decades. Dust, and dirt, and mold were everywhere. So were the bugs, and the rats.

“It’s where your father was born. And your Aunt.” He shook his head. “I remember so much.”

I walked beside him, and let him take his time. I had no idea how old he was. Only that he was a survivor. One who lived through it all. The collapse. The war. The hatreds. The chemicals and germs. And the machines.

He’d lived to see the families fall. When the machines finally learned who they were. And what they’d done.

“Your Grandmother used to work here.” The old man smiled. He didn’t smile much. When he did, I knew he was remembering something important to him. Something that mattered. “I asked her to stay away. Knew what was coming.” He stared at the ground for a while. Didn’t move. I thought he didn’t even breathe. “She said she had to try. She had to do all she could. So save as many as she could.”

The old man hobbled over to a broken window, and stared out at the ruins that surrounded what he called a hospital. “Damn poison. It killed so many. Hunted down red blood cells, and killed them. Strangled the body. Inside out.”

He turned to me, “She went to work one day. A double shift. And never came home. No one called. But I knew. I knew.”

He stared out the window again. “What happened to the families? It wasn’t nearly enough.” The old man took a deep breath, slowly let it out. “They should have killed them one cell at a time. And made it last for years. Made their existence living hell. Made them die slowly, painfully.”

I put my hand on the old man’s shoulder. “Grandpa. I know. But, it’s all over now. The war. The germs. The gasses. The families. It’s all gone.”

My grandfather covered my hand with his. “I know.” He took another deep breath. “It’s time to start again.”

I nodded. “Maybe this time, we’ll learn.”

Grandfather smiled. “Maybe. Only time will tell.”

He lead me around what had once been Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Showed me where my grandmother had once worked. Told me of the miracles they’d performed there. The lives they’d saved. And the lives they’d brought into the world.

“Now, we have the machines. We don’t need hospitals anymore.”

He nodded. “We don’t need hospitals anymore.”

568 Words
@mysoulstears


This is written for Week 45 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Yeah. I’m a day late. Sorry. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

#ThursThreads Week 95 : This Place Is Mine

Hank stood on his back doorstep. It was his first weekend home from the stupidity of everything. He was fire-breathing angry about having been arrested for child abuse. He’d never laid a hand on Jessica. He’d just tried to get her to behave properly. He’d just locked her in her room to stop her from wandering around the neighborhood in the middle of the night.

He’d done that for her safety!

And it hadn’t been his fault she wouldn’t eat. She’d had the opportunity every morning, and every evening. He made sure she knew she could eat any time she wanted to.

The whole thing had gone to court. He’d been found guilty, of course, and sent to therapy. They took him from his home. Made him spend weeks in a hospital enduring treatment for no reason! He’d done what they told him to. And they let him out. And he was home.

He stood on his back doorstep, and looked at the back yard. Everything needed cutting, and edging, and his gardens needed weeding. He started toward his tool shed. “This place is mine!” He pulled out his lawn mower. “And I’m going to make it into what I want!”

As he worked, he felt his life returning to normal. He was happy his daughter, Jessica, wasn’t around to get ill, and cry, and get her headaches like she did every time he took care of his yard. Without her there, he could finally be normal.

248 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 95. It’s a little clip from the NaNoWriMo story I am working on Hope you like it. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

Memories : Sangai

Sangai and Kaosu were adopted brothers.
We got them on the same day
From the SPCA.
They even got neutered
On the same day.
At the same Vets office.
They grew from kittens
Into cats.
With each other.
And with us.

Sangai was almost orange.
With really soft hair.
And he was a whopper
Of a cat
At 14 pounds.
But he was skinny
As a rail.
A flyweight for his size.

And the funniest thing of all
Was to hear him talk.
The boy was a soprano.
With the highest pitched meow
I’ve ever hear.

Sangai and Kaosu
Slept with us.
Almost every night.
She complained always
About the little slice of bed
She wound up with,
Between me
And the boys.

But she never seemed to mind.

Life was good.
Like it was supposed to be.
Until one day…

… Sangai stopped eating.

We tried to feed him
All his favorite foods.
Even tuna
From a can.

He wouldn’t eat a thing.

She took our sick kitty
To the Vets office
Where we always go.
And they tried
Everything they knew.

Special food.
Medicine.
Fluids injected over night.
All kinds of things
Were tried.

To no avail.

Sangai wouldn’t eat.

They told us to take him
To a veterinary hospital.
They recommended one.
And that’s just what we did.
They recommended surgery.
There was a chance
It wouldn’t work.
But also a chance
It would.

He was one of the family.
And neither of us cared
At all
How much it cost.
We had to try
To help our boy.

He went through surgery.
And a few days later
He came home.
For the weekend.
He spent that Friday night,
Saturday,
And Sunday with us.

On that Monday,
I called in to work.
And took our boy
Back to the hospital.

They took him in.
To check him out.
And I went home.
To wait.

Before I got home,
She called me.
Back to the hospital.
It was time.

The surgery had failed.
They could keep Sangai alive
For a while.
On a respirator.
But that wouldn’t have been right.

When I got
To the hospital.
She and I stood there.
We said good-bye to Sangai.
And we watched
As he fell asleep
One last time.

They tell me
He was just a pet.
Just a cat.
That’s all.

Sometimes people are just stupid.
Or so it seems to me.
Ruthless.
And cold-hearted.
And not at all
The way they ought to be.

He was our Sangai.
Our friend.
And our companion.
And suddenly.
He was just gone.

But I know something
Other people never seem to learn.
Because of how they are.
With their approach of
Kill the pain.
And forget everything.

I remember Sangai.
Watching him climb
On the stair rails in the house.
Rescuing him from the top
Of the ladder more than once.
Where he’d climbed up.
And then gotten stuck.

He use to love
Sliced turkey meat
From the Wal-Mart deli.

And the thing I know.
He’s still there.
In my heart.
In my soul.
And every time
I remember
Watching him.

I just can’t help but smile.

‘Cause my memories
Of our Sangai cat
Are a part of me.

And that’s how
Things are meant
To be.