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Second Thoughts - Fiction Writing Workshop

Ellie  stood still in shock as she beheld the scene.  His chair was empty.  Where was he?  The old man had been quietly sitting in the sun, enjoying the mild weather when the phone had rang.    It was her sister Jenny, calling from California.  They'd chatted and exchanged news for ten minutes.  Or was it fifteen?    She'd been so engrossed, she hadn't even heard the gate open.  Now, only  God knew where he was gone.  Or in which direction.  She called her son Ryan who was upstairs working on his computer.  She  called Bob,  her husband.

"Bob!  Your father just walked out of the house during the last few minutes.  We've got to find him.  Please come home fast!"

"I'll be right there!" said Bob.

Luckily, his office was in the area.  He was home in five minutes.  Bob and Ryan searched the road in opposite directions, Ryan on his motorcycle and Bob in his car.

Within minutes Ryan had located the old man.  Bob returned to the house to collect Ellie and they quickly drove to where Ryan had retained his grandfather.  Ellie gently but firmly coaxed Bob's father to get back into the car and return home with them.  Stubborn, silent and expressionless, he finally agreed.  Once he was back home and safely resting in his room, Bob let fly at Ellie.

"How could you neglect him like this?  Talking nonsense with your sister on the phone?  You know he has no sense anymore.  If anything had happened to him, I'd have held you responsible."

Ellie remained silent.  She remained silent for two days.  It became noticeable.  Ryan understood but Bob became uncomfortable and started trying to tease her out of her 'bad mood'.  Finally, she spoke.

"Bob, I want you to call your relatives together.  At least the ones who are concerned.  We have to come to a decision."

"What decision?"

"About what to do.  About your father."

"My father is okay......"

"No Bob, he is not okay.  He's lost his mind.  He recognizes no-one.  He needs full-time residential care.  He's just more than I can handle anymore.  Sorry...."

"You want to put my dad in an institution?"

"It's either him.....or me!  I've cared for him  since your mother passed away.  Sadly, I'm feeling abused.  Your outburst the other day was the last straw."

"Look.....I'm sorry...."

"Not good enough, Bob.  I gave up my job nearly twenty years ago to take care of our kids.  Well they're all grown up now.  I'm only forty five.  I'm planning to return to teaching."


"Next month.  The principal of the local high school has engaged me as a substitute for the coming school year.  I did my interview months you see, it's important to make arrangements quickly."

Ellie got up and walked away, leaving Bob with his mouth open....

This post first appeared on Write Away on 12/10/2010

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