Last Words

Posted on by Dave Woodruff

The news came light a bolt of lightning, she wasn’t ready for it, but who ever is? It took her long enough to get over no news. Until now, she told herself, the news that truly shocked, was the empty page, but this had a real grip of truth and painful existence.

Her father had been killed the day before in a car accident. She hadn’t been told immediately due to their estranged relationship. They hadn’t spoken in over nine years, and to compound her despair, she could only recall their last conversation. To call it a conversation was a stretch, it started as one, it ended far less cordially. The words, and screams they exchanged still echoed on the walls and she was now faced with the truth that would be their last conversation.

She had moved to New York to become a writer, he remained with his new wife who aspired to be a writer. She wasn’t sure what unnerved her more, his new wife, his disappointment in her decision to leave medical school, or the fact his new wife was  coincidentally, also an aspiring writer. And no matter how good his new wife might have been as a writer, She couldn’t, or wouldn’t pay her respect, she could not replace her Mother.

The news of her father’s passing came in the form on an eMail. This in itself seemed infuriating. It seemed this would be a time to put pettiness aside, but perhaps bygones were not ready to become bygones. She contacted the Highway Patrol for more information on the accident. It was likely her methodology as a writer, she needed to understand the backstory, the motivation, the incongruous details of an otherwise ordinary event. Only one facet of the story stuck in her head as she hung up the phone. It would seem he made a detailed recording in the last moments before he died, using a recording app on his iPhone. The Highway Patrol were unclear of its content, or to whom it was intended, yet it was noted, it was still recording in his dead hand as the first officer arrived on the scene.

She sent an eMail to her Father’s wife to inquire about the contents and circumstance of the recording. She was overcome by shudders of emotions as she realized, these were truly her father’s last words. She had somehow always imagined they would resolve their differences and would again be a true family as they were before her Mother died. Tears overwhelmed most of her conversation, an amalgam of frustration, sadness and solitude.

Devastation can arrive in simple elegant packages. Not everything that hits us comes reeling down the street like a stampede of buffalo or a careening like an out of control school bus, the next day she stared at the eMail in her in box, contemplating the click to reveal its unsettled contents. It was an excruciatingly timeless pause, the air was sucked out of the room and cleanly from her lungs. After she clicked, the lack of breath felt like a kick in the diaphragm, the kind of blow that steals your breath forever.

It seemed the subject of the recording was her. Her father was trying to tell her how he felt, yet, his new wife had decided it wasn’t in her best interests to let her hear it. Anguish ran amuck in her veins, she imagined her blood pumping pints of acrid greenish acid throughout her body, in moments it would reach her brain and she wouldn’t be able to control her rage. The next hours and days were less than enviable, even by those in concentration camps.

For all one knows, it might be true that after the darkest night comes the dawn. She awoke from sleep or what would be better defined as disassociated indifference, to the doorbell, in her trancelike state, she thought it was a waking dream, perhaps a hit man sent to relieve her of her misery, it was in fact a Fedex driver named Clarence with a package for her from her Late Father’s wife. She stared for an even longer eternity that the eMail click episode.

Two days passed, and the package remained frozen in its place on the edge of her dining room table, she half expected it to open itself and reveal its’ desolation angels unto her. She finally sat down with all the resolve and angst she could muster. Inside the package was a small bound black book and a single folded page letter. She read the letter.

“Your Father wanted you to know how he truly felt, he begged with his last words to give you this, these are not my words, they are directly from your Father’s lips and his heart. I simply couldn’t have you hear the broken, devastation in his recording. This book is a collection of the unsent letters he has written you over the last years, and the foreword is the exact dialogue of the recording at his time of death.”

Her chest ached an ache she had never experienced, this was either a heart attack or the agony of the repair of a heartbreak. She began to read the foreword, although it was far too difficult to manage through her tears of euphoria, his last words were not in anger, but enveloped equally in love and regret of the time they had missed. She consumed the words like the greatest nourishment and if these were the last words to ever escape his lungs, she would devour their every essence. She felt a smile creep across her face, a rich wash of jay that slowly took back her life.