By Rhiannon Bird
I was standing in aisle 3 trying to decide between two brands of coffee when my phone rang. I didn’t even think when I answered, I was running on three hours of sleep after procrastinating my marketing report until the last minute.
My mother’s daughter, I guess.
“Hey Dad.” I said balancing my phone on my shoulder as I compared two different boxes. It was one of those un-monumental days that would fade into the background and be forgotten. It was supposed to be anyway. “I’m stocking up on coffee. Any preference?”
He said nothing.
His deep unsteady breaths echoed down the line.
“Dad.” My voice broke and I couldn’t help my lip quivering. Cold dread seeped into my bones and somewhere deep inside me I knew. I’d been waiting for this call for a year, but I still wasn’t ready. I hadn’t truly prepared for it.
Then my Dad, the man who always had a joke, who was never without a smile and who saw the world as a bright place, began to sob.
It was clear and loud through the phone.
I slid to the floor as tears poured from my eyes, my legs too weak to hold me upright. Everything was flashing in front of me as I sobbed. All the hospital visits, the tests, every new medication. Every time we thought things were changing and every time we ended up back where we started. We did it all and still it was ending like this. There was no happily ever after like in the movies, no conclusive end, no goodbye.
Instead, there was just a crushing weight of absence.
My hands were shaking now, and people were staring. I couldn’t care less though, none of it mattered. I wanted to stay on the floor here forever, trying to live in the few moments before I answered my phone.
I knew what waited for me when I walked out those doors and I wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t ready to face a world without my Mum in it.
I wasn’t ready, not yet.
* * *
Rhiannon Bird is an Australian author who has had multiple short stories and poems published online and in anthologies. Generally she writes fantasy and science fiction, though dabbles in other genres at times as well. You can learn more over on her website: rhiannonbird.com