Flash to darkness
The sun shone bright in the Labor Day sky, as children and parents tossed Frisbees, rolled Bocce balls, and generally frolicked near the bank of the Mississippi river. To most, it seemed a great end to an all too short summer. However, to, Mathew Evens, a thirty-something single father, the day seemed anything but perfect. Yes, he was finally reunited with his ten-year old son, Matty, after a month in the hospital due to a brain aneurysm. And yes, despite the jagged surgical scar on his now bald head, he believes that he is pretty much the same man he was prior to entering the hospital. At least he wants desperately to believe that. There is one thing about him that he knows is different-He lives in an almost constant state of fear. It seemed as though the aneurysm was one shoe that dropped, and every day since, he has expected the second one to drop. Some have hinted that he has become almost fatalistic in how he views the world. However, Mathew sees himself as being more connected with it. It is as though at times his heart beats in rhythm with the world around him. The surgery most definitely did change Mathew. But to what extent, he was not sure.
Now as he stood on the river’s edge, tossing a football with his son, he was unable to shake the feeling that something sinister was lurking beyond the smells of grilled burgers and bratwursts.
“Dad! “yells Matty.
Mathew focuses just as the football makes contact with his face. Droggy, Mathew opens his watering eyes, and is stunned to see that it is now nighttime. 'How long was I out?' he asks himself. Then suddenly, "My God, Matty!" Mathew squints as he watches a five-foot figure walking towards him through the darkness. To his relief, it’s Matty. "Dad?" asks his now recognizable son. "Thank God!" Mathew declares as he rushes over and embraces his child. "I'm sorry, Matty, I must of loss consciousness. "I'm scared, Dad." "Its okay, Buddy.” Sudden, horrifying screams echoes through the riverfront park. Mathew stands watching the dark silhouettes of parents as they rush through the blackness calling out for their children. "Dad, I'm really scared." Matty repeats. “Everything will be okay.” He promises. Suddenly, Mathew realizes blood is oozing from his nose, and flowing over his lips. "Matty, listen carefully." as he gently seizes Matty by the shoulders. "When did the football hit me?"
"I don know, maybe about twenty-seconds ago." the young boy cries.
"It can't be." Mathew says to himself. "Maybe it's one of those eclipses, Dad." Something deep inside Mathew tells him that he must flee far away from the river. He takes his son by the hand.
"Yeah Matty, maybe its one of those eclipses.” he finally answers.
With Matty in tow, Mathew struggles through the thick underbrush of the woods, trying to create distance between them and the river.
"Where are we going, Dad?" asks, Matty, now in tears.
“Just a little farther, Buddy.” As Mathew quickens their pace.
With Mathew still holding his son’s hand, Matty stops, which causes his visibly weakened father to nearly fall back on him. Matty, with his tears long gone, stares up at an imposing hill, which might as well be a mountain to his young legs.
“I can’t, Dad!” he shouts.
“You have to! I’m too weak to carry you…”Look! Can you see that light on the other side of the hill?” Mathew releases his son’s hand, and starts up the hill, but soon collapses. He turns back towards his son. “Come on, Matty, we can do this.” he pleads. Matty stands staring up at his dad. “I need you, Matty. I can’t leave you here.” Suddenly, Mathew spots dark shadowy figures coming up behind Matty. “Run Matty!” A now terrified Mathew Screams. However, Matty Remains still, as he continues gazing up at his father. The figures position themselves on either side of the young boy. Even through the darkness, Mathew can see that they are some of the picnickers from the river. An instant calm, and realization comes over, Mathew. “Matty?” He gently calls out.
“Yes, Dad?” “I love you, Son.”
“I love you to, Dad. And I’ll miss you in my heart forever.”
“You won’t have to, my beautiful boy, because I’ll be in your heart forever.” A serene smile blankets Mathew’s face, as he slowly turns and continues up the hill. With Matty sleeping peacefully in a chair at his father’s bedside, a nurse, with a doctor beside her, reaches over and turns off Mathew’s life support. Matty instantly wakes. “I’m so sorry, Honey“. Says the compassionate nurse, as she leads Matty from the hospital room. Some people just don‘t recover from something as traumatic as an aneurysm. I wish you could have had more time with your father before he…”
“Its okay, I did.” A smiling, Matty, assures her. The sun shone bright in the Labor Day sky, as parents and children tossed Frisbees and rolled bocce balls, and generally frolicked near the bank of the Mississippi river. To most, it seemed a great end to an all too short summer. However, to, Matty Evens, a thirty-something married father of two, it was…
“Hey, Dad, come throw the football with us.” yells Matty Jr.
The perfect end.
The idea for my short story, Flash To Darkness, came to me one afternoon while my 12yr old daughter, Haley and I were walking along the bank of the Mississippi river. It was the first warm day of the year, and like in the story, families were out playing in the park near the river. I turned to Haley and said, what if all-of-a-sudden it was dark outside(we love playing those 'what if' games with each other). What would you do? I asked. She said something about having a 'killer Grizzly bear' running wild in the darkness. I chose a different direction for my story. However, looking back I think she may have been on to something.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Roger Orr.
Published on e-Stories.org on 04/27/2009.