this cigarette, I forgot I lit it
When Papa’s cough didn’t stop after the medicine, we knew it
was bad. He was a big man, larger than life, and so to see him,
curled up small in his bed felt like a knife in the ribs.
We tried for days to bring the fever down, but like any
fire, it soon began to burn him up from the inside out. Dry and
hot, like a skillet left on a campfire with nothing on it but
embers and the charred bits of morning’s breakfast. I watched
with a simmering anger as he took breath after laboured breath,
just trying to survive. Soon the cold compresses would stop
holding the fires raging in his blood at bay. And Mama… well.
My Mama was a mess, but even as angry as I was, I could see
her determination. Just like those embers in the campfire, her
eyes glinted fiercely, and she worked tirelessly day in and day
out to bring even the smallest amount of relief to Papa. She knew
he didn’t have much time left.
I was coming back from the well with a fresh bucket of cool
water when I heard Papa and Mama talking. I don’t know what
possessed me to stop and listen, but I don’t think I was supposed
to hear what I heard.
“Look out for him Allie. I can see the anger in his eyes. If
he doesn’t learn to let himself feel it, it’ll burn him up too.”
He died later that day. And just as he took his last exhale,
like a whisp of smoke his cough came to me. And through my tears,
I asked one word; Why?
Because grief is a lesson little one. And like any storm,
you will weather this, or it will burn you.
I turn my head into my arm to cough. It fills me with a