The one word prompt from Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction this week was ‘Distance‘.
He’d always kept her at a distance, a cold, threatening figure on the perimeter of her young world; a chilling presence so tangible that by the time she was sixteen she had neither the power to resist his will, nor the courage to attempt to bridge the yawning gap that lay between them.
As he’d given her away at the altar, to a man he’d chosen for her, she’d vainly searched his eyes for some sign of pride or love; and when her only child was born she’d watched in dismay as he gazed dispassionately into the crib, momentarily extending a finger to the mewling mite, before withdrawing it so he could check the time.
So some years later, when she arrived at the hospital to find her father hooked up to an array of machines, drips and monitors, she was only mildly surprised at the wave of indifference that swept through her; what did surprise her however was that in some strange way she felt almost energised, as though she were finally on the pathway to an art form that had eluded her all her life.
After she’d signed the necessary forms and the support systems had been switched off, she brushed aside the condolences of the nursing staff, and ignoring her son’s tears, she ushered him swiftly out onto the corridor, touching him only to place his cap firmly on his head.
“We need to hurry son,” she said in a cold detached voice, as his little legs struggled to keep up with her, “we’ve a long journey ahead; it’s quite some distance.”