Tip_A_Steinback - A mockingbird once was seen talking talking with a Calico cat

    "A mockingbird once was seen talking talking with a Calico cat," I mumbled half-heartedly, since Dad only lay there and didn't seem to be listening anyway. But his dry, liver-coloured lips suddenly moved.

    "Talking talking, Jay?" he asked with a grunt that sounded muddy. He fought to raise one eye lid and gazed at me with with a wet blue eye that was half of the fierce stern look I'd grown up with.

    "Yes, Dad," I answered too loudly in the sterile echo of the hospital room. Desperately, I tried to remember what I'd been saying. "The Calico cat was curious to know how the mockingbird could talk, and what it was like," I ventured. "So the bird was talking about talking, see."

    His eye held me for a wavering extra second or two, then closed again. Dad seemed to nod slightly, or at least try to. His chest heaved largely under the extra wool blanket Sis had crocheted, and his chin wore a cover of white stubble he would never have tolerated if the dark cancer hadn't been so finally bearing down on his life light.

    He had always hated my beard. And my long hair. And my love of make-believe. And my so-so career as a writer of children's books.

    "Engineers make the world turn," he'd usually boom, and a part of me wished he could rise right now, shake off the dreadful mantle of death, and lecture me ringingly about my silly flights of fancy.

     A muffled chime sounded somewhere in the semi-darkened corridors of the hospital as Dad impossibly opened both eyes and fought to speak.

    "Stupid cat; probably an engineer," he said strongly. His lips tightened as he shuddered twice. Then he worked a small, rare smile and said, "Talking is just talking. They should have talked flying."

    Dad's eyes bulged wide as a final spasm seized him.

     They'll be looking at me for a long, long time.

The End

143 comments about this exercise Feed