So when Professor SAM – on behalf of Master Class 2014, and via Kelly Garriott Waite – gave us the longest written prompt in the vast history of written prompts EVER (thanks A LOT, Kelly!), I of course had to rise to the challenge.
I hope I didn’t screw it up too badly.
Dad was dead.
That much could not be denied.
I’d seen him breathe his last. Hell, I’d damned near given him permission to do so. He would never have left mom otherwise, and she was very much in need of his finally finding some sort of peace, some sort of solace.
Mom was still around of course, but only by mere inches.
The other woman – the one I thought I would love forever – offered some token assistance, but her crocodile tears could hardly hide the gleam of the “Steve McQueen-esque” boys she was not-so secretly dreaming of, while feigning concern for me and mine. She escaped at her first self-serving opportunity, and left me alone with a grieving widow, one going through an unwanted separation 45 years in the making, and a Life for us all that would simply never be quite the same again.
I suppose you could say that, as far as self-serving opportunities go, she got out just in the nick of time.
I was born in a Roman Catholic house. And in these regards, the capital “R” and “C” couldn’t have been more prominent had Jesus Himself come down from a puff of blue sky, and utilized His very Own personal holy typewriter in creating the cards that they carried continually throughout their lives. Cards so well used that the fictional corners of each would’ve been much more like dog-eared worry stones than they would mere 90 degree angles. Personally, I struggled for years against their R.C. ideology, all while still hoping to believe that J.C. was quite alright with me. They in turn struggled against understanding how I could ever sit with “fags and junkies,” when J.C. Himself wouldn’t have been caught dead – well, resurrected, I suppose – with that sort of crew. Whores and tax collectors, sure, but even He had His standards, they presumed.
Mom was losing her grip fast, but not so much as to not realize that when she went, her “faggot-loving” son could very well tank the whole deal of a promised familial salvation. As such, she made me promise to believe as she. And, as I figured that she was the only woman to ever truly love me, I lied and said I did. This resulted in more than one of my friends – long after dad’s service had been performed – thinking to themselves, “He was the only one left to fulfill that contract and try to justify the labor and the harshness and the mistakes of his parents’ lives, and that responsibility was so clearly his, was so great an obligation, that it made unimportant and unreal the sight of the motley collection of pall-bearers staggering under the weight of his father’s body, and the back door of the hearse closing quietly upon the casket and the flowers.”
What can I say? My friends have always been fans of run-on, overly literate smart ass commentary.
In short, what they were thinking was that I was the douche who had to make amends. Amends to a God that I didn’t truly understand in my parents light – amends to a religion that never did do anything but strangle their love towards their fellow-men. Fellow-men deserving of love, though they be of a different color, or sexual orientation, or political bent. You see, my folks loved J.C. more than they ever loved His people. And much like the woman I thought I would love forever felt towards me, when push came to shove, they loved themselves even more than they did He.
So the hearse doors closed, and the body was buried. But the belief was not. Though I could’ve swore that I caught a glimpse of J.C.’s back, as He walked delicately across the partially frozen cemetery grounds, just like all the others, slowly away from me.
And I stood. Alone. One arm empty, as the self-server had by then run off with the first of many Steve McQueen’s to come. And the other arm full – though still empty – struggling to hold the woman who had once bore me, the only woman to ever truly love me, the woman hanging on now, only by mere inches.
And through it all, I just kept staring at my arms, both empty and full, while thinking to myself…
I had seen him breathe his last – I’m sure I had.
Dad was dead.
That much could not be denied.
You most definitely did NOT muck it up. You are also the only person so far to use the entire sentence as it was given, and you did it well. It fit in perfectly in your tale of angst and turmoil. My heart hurts for you, fiction or fact. I’ve had my share of Judgy McJudgersons too. Meh, eff em. They’re the ones missing out. And that’s my two cents. ;)
As for your story, it’s brilliant. I’m so glad you’re writing with the Master Class again!
Fortunately, this one was more fiction than non (just sprinkled enough in there to hopefully make it believable), and since I thought it might be a little too gloomy to be enjoyed, I am so glad to hear that you did SAM!
Wow! What do you need Tylenol for? Brilliant brilliant brilliant.
This bit: His very Own personal holy typewriter in creating the cards that they carried continually throughout their lives. Cards so well used that the fictional corners of each would’ve been much more like dog-eared worry stones than they would mere 90 degree angles.
And how you come full circle.
And how your arms are empty but full – LOVE that contradiction.
No. No Tylenol for you, sir.
This was a great piece.
Thank you so much Kelly – I truly appreciate your digging this piece. Truly =)
I agree, Wow.. Not only was this believable I thought it was a nonfiction piece. I attended Catholic school for 12 years (did me in..yikes..) .. I know how zealous those RC’s can be.. so it rang true for that reason as well. Well done, sir!
Thank you Steph! I’m glad to report that that particular brand of R.C.ism is pretty much on the wane, but yeah, it was pervasive during my formative years as well.
This story is filled with so many gems I can’t list them all. I most especially liked the part of how Catholics love J.C. more than they love their own. Sadly, it’s true. I’ve met too many church going folks that “claim” to love Jesus and follow his ways yet once they step foot out the chapel/church, seems like they suffer a bit from dementia and forget what his teachings are about. But, to be fair, it is not a flaw endemic of J.C. followers only.
The whole religious angle that is analyzed here is what I enjoyed. Well done…
Thank you so much Rebecca – and yeah, I feel the Christians get placed under greater scrutiny simply because of the One they claim (said not in a judgmental fashion) to follow. I’m glad you enjoyed this =)
My favorite line: ” I just kept staring at my arms, both empty and full,” says so much, and bears the weight of the truth.
Thank you k~ <3
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You did a great job weaving the entire prompt into your piece without making it feel forced. I’m impressed! I loved your take on the prompt as well.
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