Friday, September 17, 2010

The Days of His Life - I Dare You Challenge

A different challenge this week at JM Prescott's blog 'A Reader's World.' Heather Fitzpatrick issued the following Dare:

Challenge Yourself

We live in cities, in societies (online and in person) and in areas that have landmarks at key places. They serve to remind us of an event, a loss, a hero, or anything else we should never forget. We also have milestones in our lives that we either celebrate or disregard, but either way we are left changed. Bring a landmark, real or fictional into your story.

So, here is my take on this theme...

The Days of His Life

Katrina put down the telephone and screamed into the silence of the empty room. Her heart was breaking into a million little pieces; fragments of her life coursing through her body on the back of each of those millions of pieces. She sank to her knees, hoping that there had been a mistake – knowing there hadn’t been.

Jacob had been a small child when he had spoken his first words; Katrina and her husband had argued – albeit in jest – about what that word had been. She had thought he said mama (as mothers will) and his father had been adamant that the word was manna. Jacob’s father was proud of the boy – his faith was strong, and he felt that strength also in his son. Katrina admitted (if only to herself) that she would have been proud, too – if she could convince herself that Jacob hadn’t said mama.

She remembered the morning when he had taken his first steps. She had been in the kitchen, cooking their breakfast (how he ate, even at that age) and she felt something brush against her skirt. Looking down, she saw her son – all smiles and bright-eyed – shuffling along in an awkward gait. She had rejoiced; she had prayed for this moment (Jacob was a little slower developing these essential skills than the other boys in the neighbourhood – Katrina had often felt ashamed that their son wasn’t like the rest of the boys) and she immediately telephoned her husband to give him the good news. He had cried and laughed during the conversation, and left work early – just to be a part of yet another landmark day.

The choice of school for Jacob had been an important decision. They knew that they had to choose a school that would satisfy both their religious needs as well as Jacob’s educational ones. Once the decision was made, and Jacob was ready to start that first year, Katrina had been dealt a terrible blow. Her husband, working on the manufacturing press at the aluminium factory, had been involved in an accident which had taken his life – and her hope. She was inconsolable; only the desire to give Jacob the best life she could, kept her looking forward. His first day of school had been one of her brightest – yet saddest – days of her life.

Jacob had excelled at everything in the school environment; he was constantly at the top of his class – if not year – in most subjects, and became an excellent football player and runner. Katrina’s joy at Jacob’s selection in the All-State team in Athletics was unbridled. She could see his father in him, she knew he was looking down on their son and watching over him. College had followed, as had further recognition of his educational high standards and sporting excellence. She was as proud of her son as any mother, but she also knew that she loved him, regardless of his successes or failures.

The day Jacob proudly announced he had signed up for the Armed Services had shocked Katrina – not just that her little boy had grown up but he turned his back on his upbringing. Her disappointment was tempered by his desire to achieve and she couldn’t deny him his future.

The phone call had come, without warning, in the middle of the night. She screamed into the silence of the empty room.


David Barber said...

Great story, may friend. You could feel her hurting, and a very real situation. Well done.

Harry said...

Excellent writing Paul! I'd say you met the landmark challenge well, so sad for poor Katrina though. H

Erin Cole said...

Real horror here, Paul! Can't say that I'm not a stranger to some of it. Good work.

Jules Archer said...

Great heartbreaking story. Why do you toy with my emotions, Paul??