Friday 20 May 2011

Flash Fiction: Afterglow

I am not yet grown up, but childhood ended the day you, Dad and Allie left me. Why did you leave? Childhood's glow has left no more than a lonely shade. I have barely enough to hold on to.

Every day I miss you. But it is not a still sadness. I turn to blame. Blame turns to anger, to rage, to exhaustion, to self-pity... then once more to blame. Always with bitterness. Always with love. I miss you.

Do I truly blame the three of you? Perhaps I do. I know I shouldn't. An accident is an accident. You don't get to choose it. You don't get to choose who stays and who goes. But the feeling left behind, once reason has had its turn, is a resentment that needs form. There should be someone to blame. And I know no one else to blame.

The years since have been defined only by the accident. An existence forever looking at the present from the past.

I can still see you in those last moments, moments I could not understand. The car became an event. The white noise and gentle movement of steady travel replaced by tumbling and suddenness, glass and metal, over and around, violence and screaming.

I can still see you in those last moments, just as clearly as I can see you now. In your wheelchair, hunched over my bed, holding my blanket. Panda, Bear, Lion... years of tears have left their mark on toys named for simpler times. My room has changed little. Tidier. Frozen. Waiting. The rest of the house has moved on — messy, living and restless.

It's the middle of the night. I can see Dad asleep across the hallway. He still walks with a limp, but he can walk and he has found a way to sleep. Allie is still out, who knows where. It's how she seems to sleep.

Every night you're in my room. Little more than a streetlight's glow through undrawn curtains keeps you company. I don't understand why you're there, why you cry. I didn't leave you, you left me. What are you holding on to?

"Afterglow" came third in's quarterly competition for January 2011. More background here.

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