I Won’t Say It’s Okay
This is the second time now, fifteen years after the first. I stand before a dying man, and they push me forward, “Tell him it’s okay to go.”
They filter out the door, leaving me stranded in a sea of sterile instruments. I take your hand between mine; it’s cold, but the shallow rise beneath the scratchy blanket tucked around your sides reminds me you’re still here. You are like a second grandfather; great-uncle was never the correct title. No one’s ready to say goodbye, yet I am meant to whisper sweet lies telling you I’ll be fine.
If I do, then what? Some nameless, faceless deity lays claim to you for all eternity while I remain, the ocean in my eyes and a thunderstorm in my chest. I’d like to think we had more time together than the one trying to take you away. Hours spent in a living room, playing games and laughing must mean more; they have to. Or maybe our time at the playground could tip the scales in my favor. Swing sets, monkey bars, and the whistle of a Wiffle ball soaring through the air surely hold a stronger place than wisps of condensed water in the sky. They say it’s all right; you’ll be in a better place, but that better place is so far from me.
Am I a disappointment? It swirls through my mind daily. Back then, I was everything you wanted. I said my prayers, went to church, and considered what life could be like in a habit. Now, I scorn the church you love so much, curses falling from my lips when the bible is used as the basis of someone’s argument. I loathe thinking what you would say if you knew how the stories I used to write about missing pie have transformed like Lycans under the silver moon into desperate bodies writhing and breathless moans. You would have loved me even if you knew; this is the creed I must believe.
How long will it take for you to become a mere memory, so faint I can’t remember the little details? I can’t remember how long it took last time: weeks, months, or maybe years. Either way, I eventually forgot the little things we never consider important until they are gone. Was his voice rough or smooth? Did his smile reach his eyes or fall short? Right now, I know your voice is a little like sandpaper, and getting you to smile is enough of a challenge. Having it reach your eyes would be a feat of engineering. Already, I can’t quite remember what shade of hazel filled your irises.
I can feel their presence looming just beyond the door. Five minutes; no more, no less. I guess that time has passed. Yet, I’m not ready to say our time has passed. The last thing you told me was a promise; you would stick around until my first book was published. It’s not yet. It’s just words on a screen, waiting to be finished.
The curtain clips screech on the rod as the nurse pulls back the pale blue curtain. I guess they heard blue is meant to evoke peace. I wonder who forgot to mention that it’s also associated with people’s tears. It’s time for me to go; visiting hours are over. But if I tell you the book will be done this year, will you stay a while longer?
I won’t say it’s okay.
I can’t; I don’t want to.
Sierra Tufts is a graduate student pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing from Arcadia University. Previously, she earned her BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from there as well. In her free time, she reads and spends time with her cat Serenity. This is her debut fiction publication.