This is a short story, written originally by me. We were given the task to write a short story in my English class at school, and as I love to write, I tried my best to make a really good one. And so, I thought I would share it with you all! Enjoy, bookworms! xoxo
The waiting room feels thick and heavy; like I’m drowning in a sea of dread and anticipation. There is nothing physically dreary about the room – the sanitized air, crisp with the smell of chemicals, the white walls and ceiling – are by no means dreary but rather quite the opposite. It’s the atmosphere that is drowning me. It’s the waiting, the insufferable waiting. Everyone around me is silent, their eyes down-turned. Someone they love is lying in a hospital bed beyond that do not cross sign and they have no idea whether they are going to be alright. I bite my lip, fighting back tears. I will not cry. I am one of those people who is waiting.
Suddenly, I cannot stand being still any longer. I need to move. My body shoots up, like a gazelle that has just spotted a tiger lurking towards it. My mother, who is beside me, lifts her low-hanging head to look at me, a silent question in her gaze. There is no light in her eyes; they are just two bottomless pits. I tear my gaze from hers, desperate for a simple distraction.
A pile of magazines across the room catches my eye and I stride towards it. Most of the magazines are rubbish – women’s magazines, sport, fashion. I grimace, looking for something remotely interesting. Intellectuals Weekly. It’s at the bottom of the pile. I snatch it and quickly walk back to the chair next to my mother. Beside me, a lady, probably in her mid-twenties, gazes from the magazine to me. She arches an eyebrow and I look away, letting my long, black hair fall over my face as I flip through the magazine. People my age don’t read things like that. This is a sentence I’d heard all my life. When I was 7, I read To Kill A Mockingbird. My teacher was shocked. She took the book away from me, telling me it was not appropriate for someone so young. She instead, gave me a fairy tale book. I was frustrated. I came home that night, silently furious and confused. My father guessed I was upset, and he asked me what was wrong. I let out all my anger and confusion. My teacher had no right to take my book away from me. Who does she think she is? Who would read such a stupid fairy tale book? It’s false and unrealistic and stupid! I had yelled. When I had finished, he didn’t say anything. He sat there, looking at me. Examining me. A light danced in his eyes as he smiled at me.
“You are a smart young lady, especially for your age, Alyssa.” he had said. “You’re very different from other children. When you were growing up, we didn’t have to teach you anything. You learnt how to walk, all by yourself. You even toilet trained yourself!” he chuckled. I giggled at that. “You’re going to be a beautiful lady, Alyssa. Beautiful, smart and independent. And most of all, strong. Don’t let anyone tell you what to believe. Fairy tales aren’t real, sweetie, and sometimes the good guys don’t win. But you know that,” his words comforted me that night and I’ve held those words close to my heart ever since, “And never be afraid to ask why – there’s power in that word.”
My hands tremble, and I fight back tears. I want to cry. The pressure is building up, soon I won’t be able to control the gates holding back the flood inside of me. I glance at my mother and when I see her, I take a deep breath and blink slowly, suppressing the flood. She looks worse today. She is pale, almost pasty white. Her thin, frail body looks like it might fall apart at my touch, and I am suddenly overcome with determination. I need to stay strong. I’m on my own. I need to stay strong, for mum. For dad.
I watched as my mother reached into her bag with her bony hand and pulled out her anti-depressants. As she tipped her head back, dropping the pill into her dry, cracked mouth with a trembling hand, my eyes drifted to the deep scars along her arm. Horizontal lines snaked up her arm, stopping just below her elbow. The most prominent were those on her wrist. My body went cold as I remembered the night I found her, hacking away at her arm, when I was 10. There was blood all over the kitchen and I screamed and cried until my father carried me away, into his office. That’s when he told me what was wrong; why my mother did that. “You need to be strong, Alyssa,” he had said that night, tears glistening in his eyes. That was the first time she had seen him in tears, and it broke her heart. “You need to be strong for your mother. She needs you.” An anger had suddenly built up inside me that night. My head screamed one word. Why. Why did I have to be strong? Why did my mother need me? Why did I have to look after her? But my anger faded as I watched a single tear roll down my father’s cheek. I promised myself, and him, that I would be strong.
“Mrs Smith,” A doctor announces my mother’s name. Her head whips up, faster than she’s ever moved in days. He signals us silently to follow, and my heart feels like it’s going to implode. Can I handle this? My mother takes my hand into her bony one and I have to refrain from sobbing out loud. When was the last time she touched me? The hallway seems to close in around us as we walk to the room. Now I can’t tell whether it’s my hands that are shaking, or hers.
And then we’re here. He is here. In front of me. In the hospital bed. The same black hair, the same chiseled face as mine. My strong, capable father, lying helplessly in a hospital bed. I suddenly realize, I must speak. My mother can’t do it. “Will he be okay?” my voice is a raspy whisper. “That is what I called you in for.” my heart beats fast, a sliver of hope slowly filling my chest. The doctor’s voice is soft as he says, “We can’t support him any longer. We have to cut him off.” Instantly my mother wails, falling to the floor. Nurses rush to her.
I’m frozen. I cannot move, cannot hear, cannot feel, cannot speak. The doctor quietly asks me if I want to say goodbye. I nod. He guides my numb body to my father. Behind me, my mother wails violently. I lift my hand to my father’s face, tracing his features. It’s not fair. “Daddy…” my voice cracks. “Please wake up. I… I don’t think I can do this on my own.” His words from 8 years ago pop into my head and I whisper, “why?” my voice getting stronger, anger seeping in. Why, why, WHY. That’s when I realize; this is life. Life is not fair – I’ve known this my whole life. Life is not a fairy tale and sometimes, good people lose. Sometimes, good people die. The flood gates inside me break through and I can no longer stay strong. Tears flow down my face as the doctor asks how old I am. Fifteen I tell him. He tells me he is going to pull the plug. In that moment, with my mother wailing in the background and a deep and heavy sadness in my heart, I let go. I let go of the life of home I had been grasping onto so tight. Then, the doctor pulls the plug. As the never ending beep resonates throughout the room, I let the tears flow as a deep, paralyzing sadness comes over me, and I whisper again, “Why.”