Thanatron (Friday Fictioneers – April 2014)

Copyright Bjorn Rudberg

“No, let me show you….”

Dad’s wrinkled fingers flexed across the strings of my guitar.

You stay in control, son…it doesn’t play you.”

A sequence of rich chords floated out into the sterile atmosphere.

I smiled; the old goat still had it. I’d never master his technique in a million years, and he’d never let me forget it.

Kevorkian’s assistant started the saline flow and left the room.

Dad stroked the strings for a few moments, then winked and pressed a button by his side.

Halfway through Dixie, his hand relaxed.

He was showing me how to stay in control…again.

Wednesday again!  Friday Fictioneers are limbering up for the weekly workout under the expertly energetic leadership of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  I was tempted to bring a note from my Mum this week as we’re busy preparing to take to the water again, but decided to grit my teeth and lumber through. 

You may not ‘get’ this piece without looking up Thanatron.

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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to Thanatron (Friday Fictioneers – April 2014)

  1. Oh yes.. I got it with Kevorkian name… In a way it has to be a good way to go… Excellent story with an edge I really like…

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Well done Bjorn. I’d never heard the name, though when I researched euthanasia and found the article on Kevorkian, I realised I had known about him.

      Like

  2. subroto says:

    Thanatron! That’s a new one but ties in very nicely with guitar playing skills. Though I doubt if there is going to a ‘Thanatron Hero’ app very soon. Masterfully done.

    Like

  3. Very powerful and moving. I admire the parallel use of “instruments” in this story. Wow.

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  4. This is brilliant! It’s bittersweet with a vexed subject. The last line ties it all together.

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  5. paulmclem says:

    Grim subject but solid writing.

    Like

  6. The guitar playing was a great metaphor for staying in control. And I hadn’t heard of Thanatron but now I know.

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  7. Wow, very powerful story. To go on that last journey on your own terms…I really enjoyed your story.

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  8. Well-written story about a father’s desire to stay in control. Good story.

    Like

  9. DCTdesigns says:

    Sandra this was brilliant. I would like to go with as much control, grace and dignity. And sharing a last moment between father/son is the icing. Beautiful!

    Like

  10. Great story! I believe the son admired the sense of control. Tell me if I’m wrong.

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  11. elmowrites says:

    I didn’t know about Thanatron or Dr Kevorkian, although the inclusion of both words told me there was something to look up, thank you for the link. Even without recognising the names, though, the story was very clear to me. I loved the tone, and the love between father and son. Great story, as usual. I’m glad you didn’t get a pass for the week.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks Jennifer. Sometimes you don’t get a handle on a story for a while after seeing the prompt and this one was harder to conceptualise than usual for me.

      Like

  12. Danny James says:

    It bears repeating. Powerful little story.

    DJ

    Like

  13. Well-written story about someone wanting to always be in control. I like this passage best: “A sequence of rich chords floated out into the sterile atmosphere.”

    janet

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  14. Nan Falkner says:

    Sandra, sad but well written tale. Such unhappy memories now for the son though! Well done! Nan 🙂

    Like

  15. Horus says:

    Dignity – control and the right to Die !

    Nice parable to connect the controls !

    Like

  16. Dear Sandra,
    Thanatron was a new one on me but Dr. Kevorkian was not. Brilliant piece of writing on a touchy subject. I’d go into arias over it but it would only detract from your story.
    I just started breathing again.
    Shalom,
    Rochelle

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you Rochelle, so glad you liked it. The Kevorkian/Thanatron thing was new to me, though I had heard and read of ‘Dr Death’ – just didn’t connect them.

      Like

  17. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,
    Thanatron is one of the best stories I’ve ever read, not just in FF but in my entire life. Be sure you remember this.
    Aloha,
    Doug

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Oh I will remember that, Doug. 🙂 Thank you for visiting, reading and commenting so kindly. I wish you were still submitting to FF, but it’s nice to know you’re haunting in the background, keeping an eye on things.

      Like

  18. wmqcolby says:

    That “control” sure didn’t last a whole long time, though, did it? I’m with Janet on that line, “A sequence of rich chords floated out into the sterile atmosphere.” It’s a really good one!
    I knew there was going to be another death this week — I saw the word “thanatos” hidden in the title. 😉

    Like

  19. Jan Brown says:

    Very powerful ending! Glad you decided to write this week. Hope you enjoy the water 🙂

    Like

  20. plaridel says:

    i couldn’t think of a better ending than that, both literally and figuratively speaking.

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  21. Really moving – I loved this.

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  22. A very poignant tale

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  23. K.Z. says:

    this is superb, Sandra. there is so much depth.. and the details… that’s why i respect you so much as a writer.

    Like

  24. MrBinks says:

    Nicely done, Sandra….again!

    Like

  25. Powerful, moving, and beautifully written. I’m sure I’ve said that dozens of times on your stories, but it always seems to be true! You’re one of my “must visits” when Ron and I play Fictioneers. 🙂

    Like

  26. elappleby says:

    Hi Sandra
    This was a very powerful story and although some people have commented on how sad it is, it almost isn’t sad because the old man has chosen how and when. Very thought provoking.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Yes, I should imagine that if both parties are in accord with both the time and the means then this could be an enriching experience for one and a fulfilling one for the other. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  27. I love how you tied it all together with that last ,ine.

    Like

  28. unspywriter says:

    Wow, this packs quite a punch. Very touching and poignant. Well, well done.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/lift-every-voice/

    Like

  29. Lucy says:

    Excellent piece. Reminds me of my dad. Bittersweet. Lucy

    Like

  30. Oh my. Sandra, you nailed this one! Tender, lovely, and melancholy– all at once, while still telling a great story! Wonder how many younger readers remember Kevorkian?

    Like

  31. Indira says:

    Hi Sandra, it is so good, very well written, and thanks for the link’ Thanatron’. I would not have understood without it.
    For some its really a blessing.

    Like

  32. Oh my. This just punches you in the gut. Really powerful. Well done. Cheers!

    Like

  33. Liz Young says:

    Good way to go – we would all wish for a chosen end.

    Like

  34. Amy Reese says:

    What an edge you have, Sandra! I never know what to expect when I sit down to read your story. It’s always thrilling and unique. I thought about a son/father relationship, but not quite like this one!

    Like

  35. Dee says:

    Once again you entertain and educate. Thank you for the link for Thanatron, had never heard the word. I really liked the relationship you showed between father and son, very uplifting in a sad moment.
    Dee

    PS Loved your intro about a note from mum – I was thinking i would have to do something along the same lines. Still chuckling really.
    Dee

    Like

  36. Sarah Ann says:

    Such a strong character to the end. This is a wonderful portrait of a man who must have been wonderful and challenging to have as a parent.

    Like

  37. AnnIsikArts says:

    Very topical story. I would like to have that choice. I hadn’t heard of Thanatron but didn’t need it, or Kevorkian, anyway as your writing was skilfull enough to illustrate the scenario. 🙂

    Like

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