I’ve just begun taking a course in creative writing and one of our first assignments was to take a simple, common word or phrase we stumbled upon that day and to incorporate it into a piece of fiction. The day we were assigned this project, I happened to be traveling to Quebec with some students and decided to write a story using the concept of arrivals and departures based on the screens posted all over the airport.
Everyone was finally together in one room. It was the moment he had been waiting for and he smiled, partly to reassure them and partly because he knew it was almost over. For the first and only time since his stroke, he was grateful for the loss of speech as it meant he wouldn’t have to find the words to say goodbye.
He closed his eyes and listened to them talk amongst themselves, soft laughter as they passed time trading memories and debating the details of their mutual history. Eventually, he began to feel the way you feel when you’ve stayed at a party too long and your desire to go home trumps your fear of missing all the fun.
He opened his eyes and took one last look at the world he had called home for 83 years. When he closed them again he was not met with the usual darkroom imagery but, instead, saw his wife. She hadn’t seen him yet and was sitting at a kitchen table sipping tea, doing her puzzle. He could smell bread cooking in the oven and, through the window, saw a glassy lake with a boat tied up to shore. He let out a long sigh and felt a lifetime’s worth of tension and fatigue dissipate and disappear.
The sound must have startled his wife because she turned just then and smiled at him, patting her hand on the seat of the empty chair beside her.