Please don’t be too critical of what you are about to read. At best, this would be considered a first draft. I would waste too much writing time going back and doing some editing right now. The NaNoWriMo project of getting 50,000 words written by November 30 is more important. Happy reading!
Daniel looked down at the dying old man and then looked out the hospital window. It was a dreary day and rain fell in torrents across the window pane. This suited Daniel’s mood.
He wondered why his grandfather had called him here and guessed it had to do with the old man’s imminent death and having no living relatives left to see him off to hell, Daniel thought.
Daniel returned his stare from the window back to the shriveled up old man he had never known. A million questions stirred in his head as he watched the grizzled bearded man breath in and out. Why did he want me to come here? Why did he disown my mother? Why did grandma leave him? “Why are you such a mean wicked man?” he asked out loud and startled himself and his grandfather in the process.
The man’s eyes shot open when he heard Daniel’s voice. He clenched a fist and then opened his mouth and gulped the air.
“Daniel,” he rasped. “You came.”
Daniel didn’t know what to say. To him, the man was a stranger. So, he stayed silent and waited. He had cautioned himself on the trip here to not let anything this man had to say get to him. He tried to think of all the scenarios that might be the reason the old man asked him to come. If it was to apologize for being a nonexistent father and grandfather to his daughter and grandson, to absolve himself before his death, well, he had hung his hopes on the wrong person. Daniel would tell him so, too.
A nurse entered the room to check the man’s vital signs, so Daniel looked away once more to the window and rain and beyond.
He did wonder, really, why he was summoned to the dying man’s bedside. The instructions were quite clear. “I am dying,” his letter had said. “You must come at once, I have something important to tell you. You will find the check enclosed should be sufficient for your traveling expenses.” It was signed simply, S.P. Rawling.
Daniel felt his grandfather’s eyes boring a hole in the back of his head. When he turned to stare back he saw that the nurse was gone. The old man tried to speak, but his throat was dry. He wished he would die soon, but not before he told his grandson what he had to say.
“Water,” he said. It took a few seconds to register with Daniel what the man had said. He saw his dull eyes look towards the bedside table and he understood. The man would need a drink before Daniel could hear the thing he traveled 2000 miles to hear. The sooner, the better, thought Daniel.
Daniel filled the Styrofoam cup with water and held it for his grandfather to take. He quickly realized that the old man would not be able to sip from that cup without help. He contemplated ringing for the nurse as he just wasn’t sure he could get any closer to help the old man take a drink. He leaned in slightly towards the man face. He could smell the death and disinfectant that surrounded the man. The man turned his head a little to the side so Daniel could put the straw to his lips. He took the smallest of sips and Daniel could see how difficult it was for the man to swallow it. Daniel felt sorry, then. Sorry for harboring this hatred against someone so helpless. Sorry for his mother, now deceased for five years and never making amends with her father. Sorry for himself for never being able to know the man that his mother once adored.
So, here it is. Even though Daniel didn’t feel like forgiving the man for his cruelty over the years, he knew he felt sorry for him for all the things all of their lives were not. All that, in just one sip of water and Daniel knew he could stand to hear what the old man had to say. He knew he could help make the man’s final arrangements, if that was what he was here to do, and knew he could execute the man’s estate, if there was one, although he didn’t want or need any of the proceeds, and he would probably donate whatever he could to charity.