The Withered Petal

He had gotten weaker. Cutlery clinked together loudly in the background, though the monotonous silence within muffled the sound. It had been exactly two months, twenty-three days, six hours, twelve minutes and five seconds since we had gotten the reports back. The clock ticked… another second gone.
I glanced at his frail hands. It was almost like the remaining mass on his body had become malleable, working its way around his slender skeleton. I could never find the strength to look at his face, fearing that would be the last image my mind would encapture. But more importantly, I didn’t want it to replace the memory of him that already dwelled in my mind, a happy day.
The sun shone on my face, the sound of laughter contagiously spread through the air, though my ears tuned in solely to the sound of alluring ocean waves crashing onto the white, warm sand.
“Hey, Mackenzie,” he said.
“Hey.” I replied, staring vacantly into my magazine.
My dad and I had gotten into a fight prior to this day. It wasn’t a small tiff or an argument you could just throw to the side. It had been blown out of proportion — to the extent that we hadn’t talked to each other for days on end. As much as it killed me, my ego had shot up sky-high, causing me to blatantly refuse further conversation.
“You know, I always wish the best for you... I love you Mackenzie” he claimed. I let out a sarcastic chuckle, rolling my eyes at the cliché remark.
Why hadn’t I just said I love you back? I slammed down my fork out of frustration and was nearly at the door when my mum yelled, “Mackenzie, wait! Would you mind taking your father to his room? I’ve just got flour on my hands an-”
“Yeah, no worries.” I cut her off, wishing to get this over and done with as quickly as possible. That’s when it happened. I made the grave mistake of looking at his face. Even though I had only glanced at him for a mere second, the image appeared to be crystal-clear in my mind; eyes half-closed, almost as though the dark eye-bags underneath weighed them down, frail skin, chapped lips, all of which complemented an overall pallid complexion.
I let out a deep sigh before realising we had reached his room. I picked him up from his shoddy, tattered wheelchair and tucked him into bed - his body puny and delicate in my arms. I took a seat next to him and caressed his face - gently running my fingers over the crevices which blended in seamlessly with his fatigued appearance. “I love you, Dad.” I said. Now I’m the one who sounded cliché.
‘I love you too.’
He didn’t say it, but I heard it. He smiled warmly and I reciprocated. As I shut the door, a solitary, icy tear slithered down my sunken cheeks. That’s when I knew the last rose petal had fallen.

FOLLOW US was established in 1997, and since then we have successfully completed numerous short story and poetry competitions and publications.
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