May 5, 2013
Flutters of anxiety bounced between the grimy eggshell walls of the waiting room. The upholstery in the mauve chairs smelled of disinfectant mingled with a slight whiff of mold. Abe sat stiffly in one of the less worn out ones, his hands folded tightly in his lap. Hands that looked much older than forty six years. They had always been that way. After running a small green comb through his silvery snow hair, he began bouncing his leg. Stop it, Abe. Everything’s fine.

A nurse who looked like she needed a goodnight’s sleep emerged from the swinging push doors and slunk into the room. Those dreaded doors. Since Abe was the only person in the waiting room at the time, the nurse addressed him when she mumbled, “Come on back, sir.”

“Okay, thanks,” Abe grunted as he propelled himself quickly off his seat, wobbled a little and limped to her, cane in hand. He followed her clopping heels to room 87. Oh that’s funny. 87. Very funny.

Stepping into the room, the air was thick; Abe could have sliced it with a knife. The heels stopped and the exhausted nurse pulled back the pale pink bed curtain. “Half an hour.” She clipped away. If his heart was broken in half, it had just been smashed into a million pieces.

“Hey, Maggs.”

“Hi, Daddy. I was wondering when you would come.”

Abe pulled up a chair and sat by his daughter’s bed. “I’m here now, sweetheart.” He encased her shaking hand in his and braved to look into her face. Deep gauges lacerated her skin, once smooth like porcelain. Dark bruises shown like puddles of mud on her pale neck. The woman’s opposite arm was in a large cast, as well as one of her legs. But what moved Abe the most were the pipes extending up her misshapen nose, trailing from a beeping machine. An oxygen tank squatted on the floor. Maggie smiled, her broken teeth cutting her chapped lips.

“Did Clay make it over yet?”

“No…but...but I’m sure he’ll be here soon, Maggs.” An excited spark in her eyes. I hate myself.

“Well, he had better hurry, because we have to start planning for the wedding. I know it’s a bit late to get married now, I mean, for most people nowadays, but as soon as I’m all healed up, I’m ready.”

“That’s great, Daisy.” Ouch. Slap in the face. She grinned when he called her that. It was an old family nickname Maggie loved even more than “Maggs”, which she was called any other time. Abe had once said that she reminded him of the little white flower; small, beautiful and a bright personality.

“The nurse told me you said I was in a car accident, right Dad?”


“But I guess it’s good, because only I got hurt. I don’t really remember much, only a red traffic light.”

“Oh.” Wrong again. Another slap. Maggie closed her eyes and laid gingerly back on her pillow. Abe couldn’t remember the last time he had tucked her into bed. Marge used to take care of her because he was always working. They had had Maggie young, but they were the happiest family anyone could ask for. When Marge died a couple years ago, Abe was thankful that Maggie was there to hold him at the funeral. He just hoped that wouldn’t change. So he blocked out the image of his twenty six year old daughter lying like a rag doll, and went back to another year.

1987. On a warm summer night, Abe had held in his arms the most wonderful gift he had ever been given, with Marge sitting in the patio chair aside him. Pink socks with lace around the edges stuck out from two beefy little legs. Marge had picked out a matching rose dress, which baby Maggie seemed to love as well. The fuzz atop her head was jet black, just like Abe’s had been before it was streaked with gray. The fireflies danced around the porch lamps and the frogs could be heard conversing in the bog out back. The porch itself faintly smelled of new paint, of a whole new life. Marge leaned over to kiss Abe’s scruffy cheek.

“Promise me you’ll take care of baby Maggs?”

“Yes my dear, she is our pride and joy after all.”

“The love in your eyes is unbroken Abraham, do not let anything cloud their sight.”

“Yes, Marge.”

Ten years later, Maggie was a growing girl. She went on shopping sprees with Marge one day, and fishing trips with Abe the next. On one of their Sunday trips, Maggie had asked him, “Daddy, when I grow up and get married, can you read a poem at my wedding?”

“Sure, Daisy. Hopefully, it won’t be for a long time!”

“Ha, ha Dad. Of course it won’t be; I’m only ten.”

You’re only twenty six. I never even got to give Clay my permission. Abe whispered goodnight to his snoozing daughter, patted her hand and walked outside for a breather. The air was chilly; a sure sign that winter had finally come. The bitter wind whipped through the parking lot as Abe plodded to his car. Time for a coffee break.

The coffee was bitter; it only added to his bad mood. Abe returned to the hospital in forty seven minutes with a bouquet of daisies he had picked up on the way for Maggie. They would be lovely on her nightstand. She loved daises.

This time, the nurse was waiting for him. She stared into his eyes with a solemn, weary look. “Your daughter woke up and asked for you.”

“Oh, well I’m coming right now to see her and give her these,” Abe replied impatiently as he gripped the flowers and tried to shovel past her.

“She called and called. Then she laid back and gave up. I’m sorry for your loss, sir.”

“Loss? What loss?” A solid punch. Abe stormed past the nurse and down the hall to room 87. The office attendants working at the waiting room desk all remembered an agonizing wail echoing through the push doors. It died off and reduced to jarred sobs. His Daisy and her Clay probably had the best seat in heaven. No belt buckles or leather car seats.


Abe unfolded a wrinkled sheet of paper and stood in front of a small gray stone. He was withered and looked like he had aged ten years, rather than a few months. His voice was as crumpled as the paper as he read his lines, defeated. After sobbing through the last ones, Abe shoved the page into his coat pocket. Congratulations on your wedding day, Maggs. Then, he bent down and traced his fingers across the shape of her stone. Under the name and lifespan, there was a small etching in the shape of a flower. I’ll see you soon, Daisy. Abe stood abruptly, took up his cane and headed for home, the setting sun a fiery scarlet behind him.

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