Surprise Flashfiction: “Bedside”

Umm…ain’t it funny how this works?

I just finished a pointless post about writer’s block.  I just finished it…and the block broke.

This particular bit o’ flashfiction does need a writer’s note — this piece is not autobiographical.  From time to time I have to be careful to stake out — at least to myself — where and when my personal truth is separate from my writing.  My dad and I have a great relationship…I love and respect the man more than anyone else in the world.  I’m adopted, if you haven’t been reading this blog long enough to know that, and the fact that I was chosen in spite of all my flaws means….everything to me.

But let’s be honest here, there is no relationship more powerful in writing — in life — than that of parent and child.  There is, especially, nothing more powerful than when that relationship is broken…

Oh and, yeah, you guessed right — it was a song that got my brain to working on this one.


I was taught to play the game.  More than that, I was taught to win.  At everything.  He demanded that, and more, did my dad.  Oh, I didn’t win much — not when he was involved — but all those losses just defined me in his eyes.  Weak.  A loser.  Not like him.

The walk down the hall, then, was tough.

It had taken years to get there.  Years to find myself, to find my own pride.  Years to escape that shadow.  The physical shadow had gone first, but the emotional…that one took a lot longer.

The call had come earlier that morning.  There had never been a voice mail I more wanted to ignore.  Never been a moment I more wanted to escape.

My steps echoed.  The lights flickered fitfully, never quite turning all the way on.  The smell was antiseptic and the air cold.  Every step dragged like a lost soul fighting the river’s pull.

The room was worse.

In that room lay a broken thing.  A thing I didn’t know.  A thing I couldn’t know.

He had come home to die, my dad.

When I stepped through the door, I felt ten years old again.  I was going to be reminded again of failure, and of weakness.

“I’ve tried to do this for years…” his voice was weak, barely a whisper.

I stood back, ready to protect myself.  Ready to fight, or to run.

“I’m sorry.”

I had never seen him cry before.

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