Writing prompt: Clearly, it wasn’t going to happen
So many things could have gone wrong with my son.
He could have perished in the womb– not a human yet, just a lump of cells, busy multiplying, abruptly stopped and flushed out.
He could have died with his mother, not taking his first breath as she took her last.
He could have suffered a birth defect, brittle bones, perhaps, and died of a fracture one too many. He could have drowned while I bathed him and rushed midway to the kitchen to rescue dinner from burning, leaving him alone for three crucial minutes.
He could have been strangled in the chokehold of a friend at school, during the break, in rough horseplay. He could have died of heat exhaustion if I forgot him in the car an extra quarter of an hour while I tried to get hold of a stock of nappies on sale. A kidnapper could have nabbed him while I let his hand go for a moment at the fair as I paid for the toy gun he wanted. He could have fallen down a cliff when we went camping, hiking, slipped off a path while walking right behind me, when I wasn’t looking.
But I had allowed none of those things. I paid attention like a good parent should, see. Not for a minute did I lose my focus in all those years, not for a moment. There stood my son, a strapping teen, his muscles strained against the gaping mouth of a Great White at the amusement park.
We had a glass of wine each, later, at lunch. I drank to give him company for his first drink, you understand, on his sixteenth birthday. First time in seventeen years I touched drink, pinky swear, and that was hours ago. I’d never broken the oath before. I felt fine as we drove, the breeze in my hair. We had seat-belts strapped in, just the way I had shown him, tugged one extra time to make sure. My sedan kept to the left, going far below the speed limit. I hadn’t given in when he said, Come on, Dad, none of the boys get driven around by their dads. I did not lose my focus, not once.
Clearly, it wasn’t going to happen, and yet it did. That truck came speeding down at an intersection, out of nowhere. I still didn’t lose my focus, no, not for a moment.
I did all the right things, that’s all I’m saying, you know?
I did all the right things, and yet all I’ve left of him is this photograph, prying open the jaws of death.
Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Are you a parent? If you are, what did this story make you think about?