Red Writing Hood: Epitaph

Somehow, his feet moved.

Left. Right. Left. Right.

As if walking were actually an involuntary reflex propelling him forward.

Had he remembered the napkin?  He always wrote on napkins, why was that?

Pat the coat pocket.  Pat the back pocket.  Dig in the pants pocket.

No napkin.

But here he was, feet now lead, sinking into the floor, threatening to take his knees along with for the ride.  And people were watching.  Trickles of anger pricked at his nose and throat.  Familiar heat pushed into his cheeks.

How could she…

But no, he was done being angry. He had played that part already, The Angry Father. He had played it and aced every scene and every act until the people he loved started turning away, unwilling to be his audience. He had played it until he had looked at her body. Until, in the face of her nakedness, the hurt behind the anger had burned through the fog and left him staring into the new abyss that had taken up residence in his heart. Without permission. Violating the order of things.

It was there in the coroner’s office that he had relived his last conversation with her, staring at her unmoving lips but hearing her voice clear as day.

“I’m going out to a party tonight Dad. I need to ask you something.”

“Sure honey, shoot.”

“I’m probably going to drink. I’d like permission to call you to give me a ride home if I drink.”

“No.”

No no no…

“No. Don’t drink, you know better than that. And don’t be late for curfew.”

“Ok Dad. Bye.”

He’d been watching football. He hadn’t said goodbye. It was tee time.

No.

And the people were still waiting. Waiting for him to say something about her. Waiting for him to say how beautiful and smart she had been. How much he would miss her. How he’d been so proud. How she would have been so picky about the music for this service.

He hoped he had picked the right songs for her, but he knew he’d probably got it wrong. He hadn’t gone to her latest concerts – it just wasn’t his type of music.

No.

The heat in his face was now joined by a copper taste in the back of his throat. The room wavered.

Pain in his left hand startled him and steadied the room. He looked at it. Of course. He’d been holding the napkin tight in that hand the whole time.

He cleared his throat. At least he had the napkin. Winging this was not an option. She deserved better than that. She deserves better than a napkin.

He uncrumpled the fragile white square, readying himself. Only, it wasn’t the right napkin.

It wasn’t the napkin on which he had scribbled his daughter’s eulogy while drinking Sambuca, as if drinking something swank made the drinking less distasteful, less wrong in the face of the present circumstances.

It was the napkin on which he’d sketched her tombstone.

The napkin on which he’d painstakingly wrote again and again, until the napkin tore under the onslaught, her epitaph.

Margaret Jane Little
1975-1992
I’m sorry

——————————-

This fiction piece was brought to you by Red Writing Hood at Write on Edge. The prompt requested a piece about an epitaph. This piece was also inspired by a true-life event (which luckily had a different ending) and Lance’s post The Talk.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

15 Comments on “Red Writing Hood: Epitaph”

  1. Lance Says:

    excellent

    So eloquently written. Glad I could be a small part of something this friggin good.

    Reply

  2. Victoria KP (@vic39first) Says:

    I love this. You did a great job capturing the rawness of his feelings. This line was great, “He had played that part already, The Angry Father. He had played it and aced every scene and every act until the people he loved started turning away, unwilling to be his audience.”

    Reply

  3. kateshrewsday Says:

    Poignant: how does one ever recover from such a catastrophe? I loved this.

    Reply

  4. Astra Says:

    This was some pretty amazing writing. I was so captivated by his aching, his torture. Excellent.

    Reply

  5. Katie Says:

    This is stunning, very raw and open, such tragedy for a parent.

    Reply

  6. Nancy C Says:

    Agree with everybody above. Raw. Honest.

    This faces head-on the struggles we often have when facing a violent death. The anger. The guilt.

    And all of this done so smoothly.

    Loved the detail of the coppery taste, just one of many wonderful moments.

    Reply

  7. Tina Says:

    Okay, so now I am bawling and my son is wondering if I’m crazy. The description of the father’s self-inflicted ‘perp’ walk was very intense, with the feet sinking into the floor and all.

    You are an excellent writer–are you SURE that you’re not writing a novel?

    Reply

  8. Asproulla Says:

    Oh, regret… how painful. You handled it very well: “Until, in the face of her nakedness, the hurt behind the anger had burned through the fog and left him staring into the new abyss that had taken up residence in his heart. Without permission. Violating the order of things.” I’m glad tht the truth had a happier ending.

    Reply

  9. Cameron Says:

    The moment where he realizes the napkin has been in his hand all along… only to discover it’s the wrong one.

    And oh, the thought of that last, final apology.

    Reply

  10. Sweaty Says:

    You really took me in with this post, Venus! It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and my heart just clenched painfully as I read your every word describing what went on inside the father’s head. Makes me want to go hug my little girl and tell her how much I love her…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 162 other followers

%d bloggers like this: