This week’s challenge was to use one of ten titles suggested by flash fiction participants and chosen by Chuck.
Sincerely, Your Mortician
Title by AN
Story by Scott Mollon
He was there at the moment Daniel was born. Before the nurses finished clamping closed his umbilical cord and washing his mother’s fluids from his body, even before the boy’s mother, He was the first to lay his bone dry hands on Daniel. The first to bury his nose in the soft brown hair atop Daniel’s head and take a slow deep breathe in.
At age three, He hung over Daniel in a dead man float, as Daniel’s body betrayed him and sucked in lungfuls of chlorinated water at the bottom of his aunt’s backyard pool. He lay on his stomach in the puddles, chin resting on his crossed forearms, as the EMT breathed the water out of Daniel and the air back in.
Two summer’s later, Daniel surprised Him by taking his hand.
Let’s play ninjas, Daniel said.
It had rattled Him. He was sure this sort of thing was not supposed to happen. Daniel should not have been able to see Him. But it was also the greatest year and half He ever had.
It was He, now long forgotten, who danced on his tip toes outside the High School gymnasium as music fell out into the night. His rail thin form, ever in it’s fancy dark suit and shiny black shoes, an invisible shadow lost in the evening. His panting breath would later fog the car windows as Daniel slowly inched his hand up Julie’s thigh, seeing how far she would let him go while they furiously made out.
He was there at the birth of Daniel’s daughter. He did not touch her though; for she was not his. Though He could not see Him, He knew his Brother was there laying his bone dry hands on her and taking his first slow, deep breath of the new life. He watched as Daniel nervously took his daughter in his arms for the first time.
At the school fair, third grade year, when a very angry man pulled out a gun, and started shooting, He did something. He did something that He shouldn’t have. He did something that, as far as He could guess, none of His Brothers had ever done. Taking it between His forefinger and thumb, He moved the bullet. He did not move it by much. His very nature gave Him very little power to affect events. However, He was filled with panic. And adrenaline. And the memory of a small warm hand in His own.
He moved the bullet far enough, away from Daniel’s daughter to save her life. But He also moved it toward her father who was trying to shield his daughter from harm.
On a cloudy day, at the very edge of a cemetery, standing before a humble plot next to a chain link fence, far from the picturesque trees and hills of the more expensive plots, though she could not hear Him, He whispered in the ear of Daniel’s wife.
It’s okay. This will do.
And in futility He wished He could provide her the comfort to stop her tears.
Then He sat down at the kitchen table, an old time ink pot before him, and began writing. He dipped his quill in pool water, in cotton candy, in the fears of a brand new father, in the anxious tension of a first love, in the feel of a small warm hand in a cold bone dry one, and He scratched out His letter on thin brown parchment. It Him took all night and when He was done, He signed His name in large looping script, and left the finished letter on a coffee table.
The next day, after the church service and the internment, family and friends gathered in Daniel’s living room, and though they could not see His letter, they each read from it, word for word, page by page. They read His love letter to each other in somber tones, and with bouts of laughter. They read with pride and they read through tears. They shared His words as they shared their love for Daniel.
And at the end of the day, He followed the guests as they filed out the front door trailing consoling words and shared heartache. He followed them out into the evening. Out to where he was just another invisible shadow in the dark.