ILL

ILL tells the short story of the bond between a father and his daughter, who is nicknamed Trooper, and how their time together is hanging on a mysterious thread.

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1. ILL

ILL

By

Marcus Mitchell






 

    

Come with me……

 

     Father's  head is being ravishingly drowned in those words. They haunt him like a sickness. The sickness. It won't go away.

 

     He awoke with desperate breaths, as if he was gasping for air. His eyes opened slowly like a curtain, tearing up softly as they were exposed to the shining light of the room. "Goddamn." He muttered.

 

"You said a bad word, The Father!"

 

    His head turned like a deer as he searched for the voice. He knew it was her. Had to be. But where--

 

    "Owwwww!"

 

    Well, I’m now officially woken up. He thought as he was hopped onto by the fast feet of his daughter. She was now laughing and jumping on him frantically like his stomach is her new trampoline. The Father sat up as she stomped over to his chest and leaned down. "You’re awake!" She exclaimed, nearly shattering his eardrums.  

 

    "Hey, little Trooper." The Father stroked her hair delicately; she was always more beautiful up close. "How it going?"

 

    "Boring."  She replied.

 

    "Good thing I woke up." He gave her a little shove and she leapt off the bed. By the time he'd adjusted himself, she came running back. In her hands is a small piece of paper. A card.

 

    "Whatcha got there?" He asked, trying his best to act surprised.

 

"Something I made." She handed the card to him. Once he turned it over, he couldn't help but smile.

 

On the front side of the card it read: GET WELL SOON.......SO YOU CAN HELP ME WITH MY HOMEWORK.

 

"Won't the nurses help you." The Father said with an equal amount of concern and sarcasm.

 

Trooper shrugged. "They're not as smart as you, The Father."

 

He put the card on the nearby chair, moments before she sat on it. It wasn't long before silence entered the room. She stared at him with her pale brown eyes. They always reminded him of chocolate ice cream. It's sad how ice cream melts.

 

SMACK!!!

 

The Father groaned and coiled backward. He rubbed his hand and coldly eyed his daughter, whom was now laughing. He slapped her hand. A little harder than intended. She yelped, smiled and slapped him back. They kept on for as long as the fun would last.

 

Trooper sat patiently as The Father checked out. She tried to do a coloring booklet but discovered that it had already been filled. She found herself watching The Father. He was shaking his head while talking to one of the pretty ladies in the white dresses. Maybe yelling. Calm down, The Father. It's okay. I'm still here.

 

Come With Me....

         

    Waiting is always the worst part.  

 

The Father and Trooper stood near the edge of the curb. She whistled as he checked his watch. The rain was beginning to recede right before they stepped outside and the spraying drops were soon replaced by warm winds. The Father still made her keep her coat on.

 

A splashing screech made The Father turn his head. A taxi turned out from the alleyway to their right, the tires running over the shrinking puddles. The vehicle stopped and the bearded driver motioned at The Father.

 

They said they’d be quick. He thought as he opened the backseat door for Trooper. She squeezed in like a rat. wiggling her feet. The Father entered swiftly.

 

The ride began, the driver was silent, as was his passengers. The only thing that spoke was the monitor. The machine hummed as it calculated its fares. The silence was continuously interrupted by voice of the electronic.

 

BEEP

BEEP

BEEP

BEEP

    BEEP

 

    The sound was the only sign of life.

 

    Trooper yawned and rested her head on Father's  shoulder. His gaze turned to the window. The sun was really coming out. The moist air was a thing of the past. The sidewalks were carrying the feet of leather wearing women walking their kids while on the phone. The child stared blankly and walked like the undead as he was deemed uncherished.

 

    The Father leaned back, letting in the sleep. Before he could close his eyes, slaps struck his arm. He turned to Trooper, who was pointing out the window.

 

    “The Father! The Father! We passed the park!” She said. The Driver looked back at her with a flat scorn. The Father tried to shush her but she only raised her voice. “Let’s go, The Father! It’s so sunny outside!”

 

“But we’re almost home, honey. I’m still a little tired.” The Father said with a smile.

 

“I don’t wanna go home yet. I wanna play!”

 

The Father looked at the driver, who nodded. “Let’s go.”

 

The driver maneuvered the vehicle swiftly.  Trooper moved closer to The Father as the park got closer. The taxi stopped and the machine’s humming ceased. The Father made his transaction with the driver as Trooper opened the door. They stepped out and waved to the driver as he drove off and didn’t look back.

 

They stepped into the park with slight caution, it was very crowded and loud. Toys and wrappers were scattered across the pavement,  parents were chasing their kids. Trooper wondered what she could climb on first, but the first thing The Father looked for somewhere to sit. He walked as if he was following her.

 

“The Father, can I go slide?” She pointed to the yellow slide, which had a small line of loud children formed around it.

 

“Play on anything you want, as long as I can see you.” The Father replied. Trooper nodded and started to bolt, but he caught her hand reflexively. He leaned down and said in a soft whisper, “And as long as you’re having fun”

 

Trooper smiled and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

 

The Father watched her run across the soft sawdust, she left a trail of dirt in her wake. She slowed down as she approached the line. There were loud children of varying sizes. Some were cutting other's spots, some were playing endless rounds of rock-paper-scissors to trade spots. The slide wasn't even that big, but it did twist around.

 

The Father turned away and found a bench near the edge of the playground's encirclement. It had a perfect view of the action. The Father rushed over to it and plopped down as if it was his bed. He sighed heavily; the exhaustion slowly began to re enter him. He tilted his head back and found the sun staring back at him.

 

It's beautiful light shined on everything, but the more he sat there gazing, the more he noticed that sick clouds were surrounding the bright star. Slowly stealing the shine and beauty away.

 

Nearby in the sky, The Father noticed a balloon floating upward. It was helpless. Slowly going to the light.

 

TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK

 

The Father turned to see a small woodpecker hiding behind the branches of the tree that was beside the bench. The bird's pecking was oddly slow. As its beak struck the tree and pierced its armor, the bark fell to the ground below, blending in with the sawdust.

 

WOOF!

 

The Father instantly turned to the opposite side and found a small dog sitting at his feet. The dog was spry; its fur a shaggy white. The Father found himself smiling at the canine.

 

"Hey, Boy" He petted the dog affectionately, wrapping his fingers along the tip of the hairs. He held the name tag and leaned down. It read: WELLINGTON.

 

"Are you lost?" The Father asked. The dog answered by running away quickly, it's tail wagging in the breeze.

 

The wind was growing. Flowers were blown in a consistent direction. They were red and still pretty.

 

Father's gaze went back to Trooper. She was away from the slide now. Either she had finished her turn or had grown tired of waiting for it. She was now spinning on the wheel. Her laugh could be heard through the creaking and winding of the wheel's mechanical whine. The wheel stopped as the other children started surrounding it.

 

Trooper exited the wheel and nearly fell from dizziness. She caught herself and made her way to the ropes. She climbed them with ease and caution. The top seemed too far, but she could do it. She was strong.  She grasped the ropes firmly, her boots bended the ones below her. She made to the top and cheered. Her arms went up as high as they would go.

 

The wind was growing.

 

The Father stood up and raised his hands to his mouth. "Let's go, Troop!"

 

"No! Come here, The Father!

 

"I can't. We have to go home!"

 

"Come with Me, The Father!"

 

She leapt from the edge and landed gracefully. Her momentum refused to stop and she ran. She ran and ran and ran.

 

"Come with me"

 

The Father walked to her. Reaching out with both arms. He wanted to stay with her. All he wanted to do was stay.

 

Trooper jumped again, slower this time. She looked him right into his eyes, which were spreading tears.

 

Then she was gone.


 

Come with me...

 

...

 

   The Father awoke hesitantly, as if he wanted to keep dreaming. He sat up in his seat and groaned.

 

          His gaze found her. His Little Trooper. The light of his life. His bright star. And the sickness was stealing it away. Her eyes were closed, her dreams black. She didn't breathe out loud. Her monitor spoke for her.

 

            BEEP

 

            BEEP

 

            BEEP

 

           BEEP

 

          BEEP


 

         BEEP

 

         It was the only sign of life.

 

         He turned to her get well display. No one had added anything. The stand held the same funny cards, the same old but pretty flowers and the same stuffed animals, the biggest one was the dog. Its shirt read: HI, I'M WELLINGTON. AND I WOOF YOU!

 

            The clock ticked slowly. TICK-TICK-TICK. The Father sighed as the tears came to him. Time is cruel. Waiting is the worst part.

 

            "Sir, can you hear me?"

 

              The Father lifted his head and saw a nurse. She was standing by the door, which was wide open.

 

           "Come with me please"

 

           The Father nodded and stood up. He wrapped his hand around Trooper's. He couldn't let her go, didn't want to. But he had to, because something in his head told him to calm down. It reminded him that it was okay. So he let go.

 

               I'm still here.








 

SINCERELY,

THE IMAGINATOR




 

       










 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 
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