Full Circle

“What do you wish us to do?” the doctor asked, his benevolent demeanor, but with a double-parked, motor-running, it’s 4:58 on Friday vibe.

You never think about making the ultimate decision for someone you love. You divert yourself with other thoughts. What’ll the family say? How can I face myself after this?

“There’s no coming back for her,” the doctor said. But there’d be no coming back for me, either.

You stand still for that second, three heartbeats replacing the one normally filling that space.

“Okay.” My throat locking in that word and out the air.

The doctor does what he does. Then we wait. Not long. But a whole life together in an instant. She closes her eyes, takes a few deep breaths and… Gone.

But in that instant everything changed. All from one second of indecision to decision.

I had to make the same decision for my Dad, a year later. Everything comes full circle, they say. But you don’t want on this ride more than once.

I’m sure the weepers thought me an unfeeling bastard. The doctor gave the same rap about no coming back, for the best, no-resuscitate order. Then…

“Well?”

In that second, the guy for whom agreeing to have his dog put down changed everything, nodded and said, “Okay, Let’s do it.”

Then I began to breathe again, as others began sobbing. They could never make this decision. But, like I said…in less than a second…changed everything.

I’d cry later.

Turning Back the Pages

The decisions we’ve made
have steered our lives
like some existential
“choose your own adventure” book
with its pages ablaze.
We flip them back in recall
and feel the sting of those
times we chose C instead of
A or B. But what if we hadn’t?
I’d probably still be jamming
my fingers in my mouth,
wincing with the pain
I’d feel about the pain
I caused, scanning
the scorched past through
blackened memories of
times when I thought
my light was bright enough
to decide C sparkled like
the sapphire or obsidian
in those eyes I misread,
too.

From Mindanao to Macao

Source: Dreamtime

“You sure you saw something?” Captain Ben Giotto asked Navigator Frankie Keyes.

“Pretty sure. Clouds so low and the sea so dark and rough, though, I can’t be sure,” Keyes replied.

“Okay, start the fire. If there’s someone out there, maybe they’ll see the smoke,” Giotto ordered Lieutenant Lenny Shue, the third survivor of their crashed Navy transport.

“What if it’s Japs?” Shue asked.

“Then we get rescued by Japs. If we stay here, we’ll be dead in a week,” Giotto said.

“What am I supposed to start the fire with?” Shue, said. “Numbnuts there used our last flare two nights ago, like a fool, trying to signal some chain lightning or whatever. We got nothing to spark it.”

“You’re the engineer, Mr. Shue. Start engineering,” Giotto said.

“I saw it again!” Keyes shouted. “Sitting out there maybe six or seven miles.”

“You know, Numbnuts, you’ve done nothing but screw up since we left Manila,” Shue said. “Got us lost, then bounced by that flight of Zekes, and dumped us in the lost keys somewhere between Mindanao and Macao. You’d be more help to us dead than alive. At least we could eat you then.”

“Enough!” Giotto growled. “Keyes, make yourself useful anyplace away from Shue.”

* * *

Two days later, when Commander Walt Sunday’s submarine picked them up, he told Giotto and Shue, “We found the kid yesterday morning. Life vest deflated, but we saw the yellow on the dark water. Found the note about you fellas in his pocket.  Kinda ironic, wouldn’t you say? I guess he died just swimming out to fetch us to save you.”

“Yeah, I guess he did,” Shue whispered.

Here’s a 250-word response to author Cara Michael’s weekly #MenageMonday challenge. Have to use three prompts in a flash of 250 words or less. This week’s prompts were two phrases to be used in quotes (“like a fool” and “the lost keys”) and that photo above. I’ve added a few words here to my entry and would love to sit for a day to try turning it into something to the tune of 3,000 to 5,000 words. Maybe someday.

Hang In There

 

cliff

“I’m stuck in a precipitous place,”
you said, “and falling is a possibility
I no longer care to worry me.”
The fall doesn’t kill you, I replied,
ignoring the pain I’ve felt, too,
it’s that sudden stop at the end of it.
He grinned (Or was it grimaced?)
akin to a wolf who had a death grip
on his own ears, contemplating
letting go or holding on for dear life.
His life, yours, mine, it didn’t matter.
Fear and anger will do that for you.

“I don’t care as much anymore about
this place in the present,” you said.
“The past looks like scorched earth and
the future’s a desert of hopelessness.”

Then stay where you are, I replied.
Yesterday’s nothing but ink-stained
fabrications at the bottom of a birdcage.
Tomorrow’s just a hazy today in waiting.
Hold onto your spot here and now like
a bird, softly enough not to crush it,
but firmly enough that it can’t get loose.
Your grip on life can escape you
on swift’s wings, and sometimes those
guardian angels pounding their gloves
waiting to catch you if you drop in
the existential outfield have been known
to lose some in the sun.

Do I know what inspired this? Does it matter? Let’s just say if fell into my glove as I squinted into the sun.