A Change of Heart
He was ready to end his life, but for some unknown reason, something deep inside wouldn’t let him do it.
The old man sat motionless behind the wheel. He was clenching it tight. The engine was running. Sweat began to bead on his forehead and a tear ran down his cheek.
The car sat ten feet away from a sheer cliff with nothing more than a final thought between him and the hereafter.
All he had to do was take his foot off the brake, step on the gas and it would all be over in a few seconds.
He had made it this far, but now, faced with the possibility of impending death, the end of his ninety-plus years on this earth and the end of his life as he knew it,
he hesitated and he remembered.
He remembered all the firsts in his life. His first job. The first time he saw a television set. His first car, his first date, his first kiss and the first time he made love.
Her name was Emma. She had the reddest lips, big brown eyes and auburn hair. He had a passion for that girl. It didn’t last past high school. He had joined the service and that was the end of it. She refused to wait.
The memories were now pouring in. Lost within the dark recesses of his mind for so many years, they had found an opening and broke loose. Flooding forward like a tsunami wave heading toward the shore.
He recalled his wife of sixty years. He still loved her even though she had passed on five years ago. Secretly, he had always wanted her to go first. To spare her from the grief he knew would come. To spare her from the loneliness he now felt.
He knew her, and believed he could handle it better than her. He didn’t realize how hard it would be or that it would last so long. Why was he lingering here? Why hadn’t he passed on right after her like so many couples he had known? Why?
He recalled his kids. Two girls and a boy. His son was killed in action. He was given a metal and the flag that draped his sons coffin. It was a worthless consolation for the loss of his only son.
No one was left to carry on the family name. It would end with him.
His two girls grew up and grew old. One passed last year. He lived with the other. He was a burden to her and he knew it.
He recalled many things as he sat behind that wheel. He looked out over the ocean ahead of him. Hawaii was out there somewhere. He had been there once, many years ago. He always wanted to go back, but time got away from him and it never happened.
There were many things he had wanted to do. Now he was too old and too feeble to do much more than walk the length of his daughters house.
He had left a note behind so she would know where to find his body. He knew she would be distraught, but at the same time relieved.
As he sat there in deep thought, a knock on the window startled him and brought him back to the present moment. It was a police officer. He motioned him to roll down the window.
“Mr. Sheridon, are you OK?”
“How do you know who I am?” The old man asked.
“I ran your license plate. Are you OK? Our office received a call from your daughter. She’s worried about you. She told me where to find you. She thought you may have driven over the cliff.”
“No, I think I’ve changed my mind on that. I thought I had the courage, but I guess I don’t. I think I want to go home.”
“That’s good Mr. Sheridan. Why don’t you let me give you a ride.”
The old man turned off the ignition and stepped out of the car.
The young family on the beach directly below the cliff was enjoying a picnic lunch on a beautiful day. Their kids, two girls and a boy, played in the sand.
They were unaware of what was taking place just above their heads.
© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.
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