Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Donald's Requiem: A Short Story


“Damn you, Donald! Why did you do this to me?”

Well, that one wasn’t too bad. At least no one else is around to hear this time. I do wish I could stop doing it, though— it’s quite odd and certainly not dignified. I don’t know where it comes from. Just slips out without warning. I think I can open a window now… surely another one won’t come this soon. Ah, but sometimes they do, don’t they?

So hard now to get up and going every day. I never realized how much Donald pushed me through life. He thought going through the day was supposed to be more than a chore. Maybe that’s why I’m snapping at Donald like this. It’s not easy with no one to push you. It’s not easy without Donald. Maybe I hate him now for this.

No. I really don’t think I hate Donald at all. After all, I know he didn’t want to die and leave me here alive. I think he wouldn’t mind still being here with me… well, of course he wouldn’t. Donald always told me he could not and would not ever make it without me… that he had to go first. Could be that sort of thinking helped bring it about. Could be that he subconsciously wanted to die and that’s why he slipped away so fast. They told me that he would probably last for months longer… that they would keep him comfortable with the pills.

The pills. Much better than surgery or procedures, they say. I can’t wait until they start me on them. So much easier and so much less intrusive on the System. Why fight an uphill battle with time and money when you can just take the pills? Perfectly reasonable. You get to a certain age and that’s that. Donald didn’t like the pills, did he? Once he got the cancer he couldn’t refuse them. I tried to reason with him… tried to tell him that it was best. He told me that the pills would kill him faster and worse than the cancer— because they’d kill his mind, he would say. No, he most surely did not like the pills. Maybe that was it. He was always so clever… maybe he found a way to stop taking the pills. That’s my Donald. He was clever and stopped taking the pills…

“Why did you do it, you bastard? You left me here like this!”

Oh, dear. That was out loud, wasn’t it? So soon after the last one. The facilitator at the Wellness Center told me they would go away soon, but I think he was wrong. He seemed rather surprised that I admitted it to him. Told me that people don’t like to open up so much to strangers, and I better keep it quiet if I know what’s good for me. Well, I suppose he must know what’s good for me, since he’s at the Center. He was nice, but very nervous. What was his name? John…or Henry… Henry— that’s it. Henry from the Center.

Donald hated the Center. Even when we were younger, he always said it was a bad thing. I never paid any of it much mind. Maybe I should have. Doesn’t matter now. Donald doesn’t matter now, either, I suppose. He used to tell me that the Center was the place where people lost their joy of living. If he had so much joy, then why did he go so quickly? Sure, sure— it was the cancer… but why should he go so quickly and not me?

“Why? You selfish son-of-a-bitch! You should have stayed longer like they said you would!”

Another one already? My… that’s the quickest ever, I think. I should go for a walk in the air before someone calls the Center on me. Donald loved walking in the air with me. Said it made him feel happy. I guess it made me a bit happy, too, but I never seemed to get the same kick out of it as Donald did. When I think about it, he seemed to get a kick out of most anything.

When I went to get the death certificate, Henry told me Donald was different. He said he didn’t meet too many like Donald at the Center. I laughed at that and told him he was surely right. I told Henry that Donald tried forty-seven times to get a permit for us to have a child. “Forty-seven times?” Henry asked me. He couldn’t believe it. He wanted to know why Donald wanted a child so much. It seemed a bit odd to Henry— and to me, I suppose—that I didn’t know the answer. I told Henry the truth that it didn’t bother me much that we never got the permit. What on Earth would I have done with a child? Besides, they were smart enough to know who should get the permits. Have to manage that process very carefully, you know.

Oh, it’s a bit cold out here today. Kind of early for cold weather… but they did say on this morning’s Broadcast that it might be chilly. Something about ocean currents. They’re always right. Donald didn’t think so. He hated the Broadcasts and I never quite understood why. After all, they told us everything we needed to know. They gave us the weather and told us what we needed to know about the local happenings— they even told us what we should do in the evenings. Donald always talked about the old days when his grandfather was young. On and on about more voices and more information and more choices. I’d always ask why more choices are so great. That would put Donald in high dudgeon every time, to be sure. Mercy, I will not miss that!

Maybe it’s good that he’s gone. He’d just be going on and on about how pretty I look on the walking track. Or, he’d want me to imagine we were at the ocean, walking in the sand and feeling the sun. Then he’d hold my hand and squeeze it so tightly while he kisses my cheek and whispers nonsense in my ear. On and on he’d be going. On and on.

“I can’t believe you left me here, Donald!”

Well, that’s it. I have to go to the Center now before they come get me. I hope Henry’s there. I trust him. They’ll have to start me on the pills now. Back inside to get a coat. Should have listened closer to the Broadcast. What’s this notice on the Public Access Screen? Oh, dear… it’s from the Stewards. Did I really leave the hall light on again? Oh, now they’ll be coming for sure. I can’t believe I did that.

Donald used to do it on purpose. He hated the Stewards. He loved to make them turn off the lights remotely. He liked reading the warnings when we’d return home. I’d ask him why… and he would just laugh and say “they’ll have to work for it from me.” Whatever that was supposed to mean. Cost us a lot in fees, and I’d remind him of that every time. “Worth it,” he’d say… every time. It’s probably his fault that I’ve done it so many times since he died. My mind can’t remember everything, now can it?

There. All the lights are off and I’ve sent an apology to the Stewards. Now, off to see Henry. What’s this in my pocket? A note. A note from Donald? Dated a week before he died…


I know I’m leaving soon. I feel it inside. I’m only sorry that I’m
not going to be there for you anymore. All I ever wanted was to take
care of you. I know you think I didn’t need to because they would
take care of us all.

I’m smiling right now because I’m imagining holding your warm hand.

I’m sorry about the pills. I know you thought they were good, but I
didn’t take them. The people at the Center thought I did, but I fooled
them. Never mind how. Just know that my final thoughts are on how good
it feels to be free enough to decide something for myself. I know you
will probably be on the pills soon enough. If that’s what you want,
then do it.

Make sure you turn off the lights now that I’ll be gone. I don’t want
those sons-of-bitch Stewards giving you a hard time.

My Grandfather told me there was something better awaiting us when we
die. I think he’s right. If there is, I’ll wait for you. Maybe we can hold hands there.


Your Donald”

Found a way to surprise me one more time, didn’t he? Let’s just put this note back in the pocket. Now, then, where was I going? To the Center?

Maybe later…

First, I think I should take a walk in the ocean air.

I Love you, Donald— you wonderful bastard.

....... ©2009 kmg

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