Slumped down in the padded metal hospital chair, surrounded by predictable beeps, Melody felt like the biggest phony in the world. Her father’s frail and nearly lifeless body lay only 3 short feet from her, yet the connection she should feel was nearly absent.
She was pretty sure their relationship was always this vacant, but was too completely exhausted to engage in any self-analysis today. Glancing down at her watch she noted it was 3:25. Had she really been there for nearly twenty-four straight hours?
Melody stretched straight her lean tennis-playing legs and since comfort was an impossibility in this contraption they pass as a chair, walked around the small room. Rearranging flowers from her youngest brother Matthew, straightening the macaroni encrusted picture from Jessica, poking a finger at the balloon bouquet from her Aunt Margaret.
Stuff surrounded the once immortal Eugene York, yet actual people were noticeably absent. When they placed the 911 call eight days ago, knowing that death was finally immanent, Melody assumed that the family would take turns sitting by Dad’s side. But Matthew had work and Margaret volunteered at the library. Of course, Matthew’s wife, Brooke, would never sit by Eugene’s side and feign interest in either his life or his death. She was still seething over the nasty comment Dad had made when sweet Jessica was born a mere 6 months after their wedding.
Leaning up against the window that overlooked a parking garage, Melody imagined a life without him. She was horrified by her thought that it may actually be more peaceful once he was gone. Mom had loved him fully and Dad just trampled all over those feelings. Booze, women, bankruptcy…Mom stayed by his side for some inexplicable reason.
Once Mom died, Dad’s temper spiraled out of control and even little Jessica was now targeted. Jabs about baby fat, taunts that she “didn’t look like a York,” questions about her delayed potty training. His cruelty was unimaginable and Mother was sure to be scowling at him from the heavens above.
Melody strolled back to the bed, moving the useless metal chair to the side and glancing down at this man. Would it mean anything in his now barely living state if she took his hand?
His mocking her decision to move to the city, his contemptuous tone when referring to her partner of 6 blissful years as “That Dyke,” the box of steaks that arrived each Christmas when he knew damn well that she had been a vegetarian since senior year. If the cardiologist was right, this was all to be history in just a few short hours.
Breathing deeply, Melody reached for his hand, holding probably too tightly the bony hand enveloped in virtually translucent skin. His thin wedding band, a tribute to what should have been, barely clung to his finger. She leaned in and stated with certainty, “Good-bye.” Having truly meant it this time, Melody stood up, walked to the hallway and never looked back.