Prompt 42: Continue any other author’s story already posted to #FFC52 over the past 41 weeks.
I was reminded of so many of our awesome stories as I looked back for one to continue. I can say that I’m truly impressed with our body of work! Can you say book!!
The original story is in red text.
Where’re the funny pages?”
“You know, Garfield, Peanuts… The comics, man.”
“From yesterday’s paper?”
“Yeah, man. Yesterday’s paper.”
“Well, to be honest, I threw it away.”
“Darn it, Sam.” Matt wheeled his chair towards the recycle bin. He saw a nearly empty soda cup on top of the pile. The ice had melted and soaked the stack of paper.
“Recyclables only,” hissed Matt as he wheeled himself back to Sam.
“I’m sorry, man. I thought you’d seen them.”
“No worries.” Matt looked out a window before continuing. “Hey, I’m gonna shoot some hoops. You game?”
Sam leaned back in his chair and pushed against the wheels. “I’m gonna pass. I’ve got some work to get done.”
Matt nodded and wheeled himself across the floor.
* * *
“Calm down, son.” Matt heard a pleasant voice.
“What’s going on?”
“Open your eyes, son.”
Son… Thought Matt. I haven’t heard that in a while. He opened his eyes and lost his breath. He couldn’t believe what his eyes saw. “Dad?”
Matt’s eyes teared up when he saw the face of his father. “It’s me, Matt. Are you okay?”
“I think…” He swallowed hard. “My legs…”
The face looking down at him showed concern. “Is something wrong with your legs?”
Matt reached down and his heart raced as he felt below his knees. I have legs! He struggled to sit up.
“Maybe you should lie still while I call an ambulance.”
“To hell with that.” Matt tried lifting himself with his arms, but didn’t have the strength to follow through. He lifted one of his legs and rotated his hips until it hung over the edge of a bed. “Help me up.”
His father reluctantly assisted him into a sitting position. “Please call Doctor Fitzgerald at the facility on Ninth.”
His father stared blankly. Ignoring his father’s stare, Matt continued. “Uh, Dad, can you bring me a phone?”
His father nodded and left the room quickly.
“How long have you had these dreams?”
“They’re not dreams.” Matt threw his arms up. “Just forget it.”
The doctor tapped a pen against his lips. “Start from the beginning.”
Matt sighed. “I was in a car accident about ten years ago. My dad died and my legs had to be amputated below the knee.”
The doctor didn’t respond, so Matt continued. “I’ve lived here in this facility with my roommate, Sam.” Matt looked away and muttered, “Sam squared.”
The doctor dropped his pen. “Sam squared?” He leaned forward. “Sam Samuels?”
“Yeah, fastidiously clean, pops a wheelie like no one else.”
“Come with me.”
* * *
Matt saw Sam lying in a bed, machines breathing for him. “What happened?” he whispered.
“Sam attempted suicide several times. The last one almost took.”
“That’s not possible. I stopped his second attempt right here in this room.”
“I wish someone had been in this room…” The doctor whispered. “It may have made a difference.”
Matt watched his vision get fuzzy on the edge before everything faded.
The fading light of day streamed through the window. Matt opened his eyes and blinked into the dim room.
“Matt. Matt. It’s Sam. Hey, man, are you back?”
Matt tried to focus on the shadowy figure leaning over him. He faded in and out of consciousness; not knowing how long he was he was gone before coming back, only to leave again. He had been dreaming (re-living?) the accident. Where had they been going that day? Sports. It was a baseball game. A clear day with azure blue skies lay on the horizon of the highway, within reach, but never reachable. They chatted about Will’s upcoming wedding. Matt was excited to be the best man at his younger brother’s wedding. His father was proud to see his second born son becoming a man. He remembers laughter. He remembers feeling truly content with his life. It was his time. He watched the yellow centre line disappear under the car as they put miles behind them.
“Matt. It’s Sam. Come back. I’ve got the funnies.”
Matt heard his friend’s voice calling him back, like so many times, but he couldn’t (wouldn’t?) claw his way back to the surface. He was in back in the car. His father was fiddling with the stereo. He clicked past an all talk station, past a dance station, and landed on The Stones, belting out a song about the devil. Now this is music, he had said. Matt saw a black truck swerve into their lane, and then there was a scream (his father’s?), and then an explosion of frightening noise and excruciating pain hit Matt like a brick wall, before everything faded into oblivion.
“Matt. Where are you, man? Come to my voice.”
“Yeah, it’s me, man.”
“How did you get here?”
“Failed suicide attempt.”
“No, in the wheelchair?”
“Was it a car accident?”
“Was it my car accident?”
Sam sighed, like something he had been waiting for finally arrived. “Drunk. I was drunk.”
“You killed my dad. And now I know you killed me. I died that day.”
Sam sobbed, “I’m so sorry, Matt. I lived and lost my legs, but that was nothing compared to living with what I had done. I was shrouded in a black veil of regret and remorse, so painful I couldn’t breath most of the time.” Sam choked back a flood of uncontrollable tears.
“You destroyed my family.”
“I know. Mine, too. I swallowed lots of painkillers, but . . .”
“You survived. Again. But now you’re on life support. Why you?”
“Let me go, Matt. Release me. Release yourself.”
Matt faded again, memories of playing ball with Sam surfaced, in their wheelchairs, under azure blue skies. But this was not real. Sam was not a friend. He was the bringer of doom. Why is he here with him?
“Free me and you will reunite with your father.”
“I can’t,” said Matt. He remembered his father with his salt and pepper hair, and toothy smile. But it was his laugh he missed the most, a high, contagious chuckle. He wanted (needed) to hear that laugh again. Was it that simple? Forgive this killer and laugh with his father? He didn’t know.
“Forgive me, Matt.”
Matt didn’t know what was on the other side, but remaining here was another death. One he was not willing to accept. He had only one choice. He focused on the shadowy shape, and said, “I forgive you, Sam.”
Sam faded backwards, as a bright light came toward Matt, bathing his face in light. He shielded his eyes. A voice emerged from the light, soft at first and then booming. “Matt, this is Dr. Samuels. Can you hear me?”