Thursday, June 02, 2011

Prompt #21: There's only so much you can account for while doing dead man floats on the shallow end of the kiddy pool.

            Overlook of scene.
            The pool is a blue bean with a diving board hanging over one end. One boy floats on his back, eyes closed, chest rising and falling.
            The other boy is drowning.

            I don’t know.
            I don’t know why I didn’t hear him struggle. I don’t know how I missed his cries for help. I don’t know why he did it.
            I tell Momma every time she yells, yell it at her when she asks over and over.
            I don’t know.

            Zoom in on a big, living room window.
            The man and woman of the house are sitting on the solitary sofa. He sits straight, stiff with good posture. She sits hunched, elbows on knees, hands on face.
            The boy cowers in the corner, cradling his cheek, and crying.

            He didn’t know how to swim. Not that good.
            He didn’t know how to swim. And he jumped in the deep end.
            Because I laughed when he wouldn’t, with the life jacket on.

            Black screen. Voice fades in, screaming.
            “This is all your fault. If you had thought, he would be here. Instead, my baby’s gone.”
            Crying starts.
            Same voice, but softer.             
            “Mommy’s sorry. I didn’t mean it. It hurts so bad, honey, and it’s messing with Mommy’s head.”

            The walls in our house are thin, but at night they grow thinner.
            At night, I can hear Momma’s tears hitting the pillow.
            At night, I can hear Daddy set his glass on the table.
            At night, I can hear floorboards creak in his room.
            And earplugs don’t help.

            Shot angle from the doorway, at nine year old height.
            The woman from before is seated on a bar stool, talking on the phone. Black bags are evident under her eyes and there are a few more lines on her face.
            Her voice is tired and strained, “You’re the fourth pastor I’ve called. Yes, I would like that number. Thank you.”
            She sets the phone back on its cradle, picks it up, dials.

            It’s not possible.
            It’s not possible that it’s only been two days. It’s not possible that I used to smile, to laugh. It’s not possible that Momma ever loved me.
            It’s not possible he’s gone.
            But the biggest not possible running through my head as I stand in the bathroom is:
            It’s not possible someone threw away his toothbrush.
            It’s just not possible.

            Camera set at ground level.
            The boy is lying on the grass, the giant oak overshadowing his face. He stares up into the tree’s branches not moving.
            A voice calls, “Do you want to come over?”
            Zoom out.
            Another boy is leaning over the backyard fence.
            “No,” he keeps staring, doesn’t move.
            Close up on other boy.
            His shoulders sag but he just nods, “Okay.”
            Camera follows him back to his house.
            His mother turns at the backdoor’s creak. “How did it go?”
            He replies on the way up the stairs, “I’m not going to ask him anymore. He’s never going to say yes.”

            What I expect when I lean over his marker:
            I expect to see Thomas Gilmore.
            It’s not what I expected.

            Screen is fuzzy at first, then snaps into focus.
            The headstone reads:
Jake Gilmore
January 18th, 1997 - June 26th, 2009
A young boy who gave his life for another.


  1. That sent chills up my spine. Was he a real person?

  2. OMG...was this a tribute to someone you knew who died?

  3. No... Not many people I know have died.

  4. Whoa.

    I like the style that you wrote this in. ^__^

  5. Thanks, now if only I could think of something so grand for this week's story. Something I haven't even started yet!

  6. Dude. I know this is slack, but I only just read this. And I LOVE IT. So tragic :( I want to hug the little boy who survived.

  7. Thanks, Trisha.

    Though it was strange, not soon after I finished this story one of my sister's friends drowned. She didn't make it.