“Legacy” by Mark S. Thompson
We’d like to present a new Feature Story here at Metro Fiction. Please check the Welcome page for more information about us. In this week’s story, we see whether it’s a case of “Like father, like son.”
Please enjoy our Feature Story: “Legacy” by Mark S. Thompson:
‘In my day you weren’t allowed to go in,’ said Paul, staring at the door to delivery suite three. ‘Still, I suppose a lot has changed since you were born.’
His son, Ben, looks up at him but Paul can see by his expression that he isn’t really there. The distance in the eyes speaks volumes and Paul’s words die in his throat as a memory shimmers into the forefront of his mind, dropping before his eyes and warping the world before him.
He watches as the white plastic nurse’s station devolves into an old wooden desk. A single lamp flickers, casting a ghostly light across the corridor, illuminating a stack of patient records, a fountain pen and an immaculately turned out nurse. She smiles at him with tilt of the head, her creased eyes portraying a lifetime of devoted care and warmth.
A scream rips from the room to his left and he bolts to his feet, his heart hammering in his chest, a cadence that counts the seconds in minutes, slowing time. He turns his head to look at the door to the delivery room and sways, close to collapse as his vision catches up with his turning head a second behind as though frozen. Everything appears to be moving faster in slow motion.
Another shriek and his legs react again taking him toward the door. One step, two steps…
A hand catches his arm.
The creased eyes and caring smile materialise before him as though from nowhere and he feels her gentle touch guide him back to his seat. It is the same seat he had sat in moments before. Her mouth is moving but the words are incomprehensible. There is no sound, only feeling. He tries to focus upon her moving mouth but can’t. He isn’t there. He is with his wife, in the delivery suite, feeling her torment, wishing he could end it.
Expensive shoes clatter on the pristine floor somewhere to his right. Clatter-clatter-clatter-closer-closer-closer…
A shadow in a white coat hurries past. There are spectacles and a dark beard, a look of concern, nothing more. The coat raced on, feet clatter-clatter-clatter into delivery suite three.
Another shriek, longer and sharper, then crying – his wife is crying, and his heart is breaking. His hands push into the soft leather of the chair he sits upon until slowly, he begins to rise up. The kind face moves again, approaches him. Tears fall but there is no shame. The kind face is changing. Concerned now and gesturing. He follows the gesture with his eyes that move so slow. She is offering him water. He watches as though a witness to someone else’s nightmare, his own hand taking the proffered cup and raising it up to his mouth once, twice.
Another shriek and then another, louder, louder, louder. The world moves under foot. The kind face looks on, her hand rubbing his arm, the mouth moving but nothing is heard.
Another shriek. High pitched. Different.
The face changes again. There is warmth once more, a ray of sunshine breaking behind clouds of doubt. Sounds reform. Words find him.
‘Sir? You can go in now. Congratulations. You’re a father.’
The words are like crystal. So pure they touch somewhere within and ring a bell that has never sounded before. Elation grows within like a storm and carries with it all emotions so that they burst out in a cry of joy. The nurse is laughing too.
The white coat appears in the doorway and moves toward him, all beard and spectacles.
‘It’s a boy,’ the beard says.
Paul’s feet carry him to the door, a dirty brown thing with no window. He stands before it, one hand in his pocket fingering the silver St George necklace he will pass on to his son, the other pushing the door open.
The world shimmers back into focus and Paul blinks as his younger self fades into memory.
Ben is standing, swaying and a nurse in pristine white hands him a plastic cup of water as she rubs his arm.
‘It’s alright Sir. Doctor is in with her. Everything is going to be allr-‘
A high pitched wail reverberates along the corridor. Ben jumps in his skin.
The door to delivery suite three opens and a woman in a white coat appears. She walks across to Ben and shakes his hand.
‘Congratulations, Sir. You have a daughter.’
Ben turns to Paul, his eyes lined with exhaustion; red raw, still wet with tears but lifted with some inner joy that threatens to break from within momentarily.
Paul smiles back and watches as his son walks toward the old door, still a heavy ugly thing with no windows. Ben stops before it, one hand in his pocket, the other pushing the door open. A loop of silver chain hangs from the lip of his pocket as he disappears within.
Paul rests back into his chair, his mind racing with the night’s events. The flicker of a lamp catches his attention and he looks over to see a nurse smiling back at him, her eyes creased in the corners, her head tilted to one side. He smiles back.
Mark was born in Ashington, England, into an army life. He spent the next twenty years living all over Europe with Her Majesty’s armed forces before finally settling in Suffolk, England. He spends his days tending to his farm in the deep country and his nights scribbling away by lamp light, dreaming of things unsaid and the future yet to be. His literary accomplishments include bombarding more editors in a single year than any three writers put together and building a papier-mâché house out of rejection slips.
Tags: mark s. thompson, metro fiction, short stories