Short Story: Answered Prayers
The Muzak over the building’s sound system was bastardizing “Stairway to Heaven”, a sickening dumbing down of a classic rock song into an instrumental performed by a medicocre string quartet. He could not help but smirk at the irony of this, his most loathed song sounding excrutiatingly syrupy through that pathetic speaker on the ceiling, right next to a fire extinguishing sprinkler. Or was it irony? He could never remember; he was always thinking certain situations ironic while his mother would correct him, pointing out that the situations were simply interesting coincidences instead. It no longer mattered.
It was not the song itself that he loathed. He even recognized that the band he hated most was likely one of the best of their time, and Led Zepplin’s music, he would admit, had a strong influence on many of the hard rock bands he had in his CD collection. But as he strained his eyes to look down, he saw his father pace back and forth at the foot of the bed, and was reminded of how those damned Led Zepplin records were the only things his father had left him over thirteen years ago when walking out on him and his mother. He had played those records countless times for years on that little portable record player he kept under his bed. He had played them every day, remembering his father, praying to a heavenly Father to bring back his Dad, praying that his parents would just be in the same room again. He thought for sure that if they could just be in the same room again that they all three could again be a family. Now, over thirteen years later, his prayers had been answered.
With his head fixed in traction in one position by metal tongs in each side of his skull, he painfully looked out of the right corner of his eyes to see his mother standing by the window staring out at nothing, in the same position she was in every time had woken up to this new reality. Days had seemed like weeks, yet he had not seen his parents talk or embrace. His heart reached out to his mother like his arms had not done in over thirteen years; he had blamed her for his father leaving them that day so long ago. Now, he wanted so badly to put his arms around her and apologize for hating her, for walking out on her as soon as he turned eighteen just like his father had walked out on them both. But his arms, like the rest of his body, would not move when his brain commanded them to move. The paralysis had seen to that, and the tubes in his nose going down to his lungs and stomach kept him from speaking. So, his heart reached out desperately, his mind cried out begging God to fix this…all of this.
As the speaker in the ceiling was overpowered by the piercing sound of an alarm, he saw his parents move toward him, embracing each other while they both clung to his arm. He felt nothing but a warmth in his chest that rose to his face. His prayers had finally been answered, he thought. Only his happiness was soon replaced with panic with the realization that he was no longer getting air, that the alarm was coming from the oxymeter on his left index finger, warning that the oxygen in is blood was dangerously low.
His parents started to fade into darkness as they were dragged out of the room by the hospital staff that rushed in to try and fix this breathing situation. He could not help but smirk at the irony; his prayers had been answered and his family was back together for the first time in over thirteen years. Yet the thing that brought them together was now the thing that was taking him away, a stairway to Heaven that his soul was being forced to walk, leaving his parents, his immobile body and everything he knew behind. How ironic, he thought to himself and said in one last prayer as complete darkness and cold overcame him. But as the darkness was consumed by an ever brightening light, the cold erased by warming, comforting heat, he wondered… maybe this isn’t irony at all.
© 2008, Rus Wooton
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