Alternative Healing

I stare across the table, over the steam rising from my mocha.  I haven’t seen Dad for nearly thirty years and I recognize the irony of him sipping a mug of coffee rather than Guinness.

“So, why are you here?” I shiver from the icy tone in my voice.  He flinches.

“Son, I’m sorry.”

My breath catches.  I never expected him to utter those words.  Ever.

“I messed up.  Life is about choices and I chose me over you.”

No, you chose the bar over me.  I cross my arms over my chest.

“Never could say no to alcohol or women and they’ve led me into a dark alley.”

“What do you want from me?”

He shifts his gaze down to the table.  “My soul is dead; too far gone to heal.  I don’t want my problems to burden you.”

“Hmpf.”  I smirk.  “You’ve been dead to me since the day you walked out and started a new family.”

He reaches across the table and clasps my hand in his.  “Please, son.  Let go of the anger.  I’m sorry.”  His eyes fill with tears.

I’m surprised by the lump in my throat and confused that the old man’s touch comforts me.  The last time his skin touched mine was when he belted me for taking a swig of his beer.  I was eleven and wanted to be just like him.  Thank God I’m not.

A shrill staccato beep cuts through the moment.  I feel like I’m with him but somewhere else at the same time.  I wonder if something stronger taints my mocha.

“Honey, wake up.  Your brother’s on the phone.”

My wife, Amy, releases her grasp on my hand and gives me the phone.  Still groggy, I put it to my ear.  “Hello?”

“Mike.  I know you said you didn’t care, but I thought you should know… Dad died last night.”


TrifectaPicture11-1This was written in response to the Trifecta writing prompt, which is to write a 33 to 333 word response (mine is 312) using the following word and definition:

Heal:  to restore to original purity or integrity <healed of sin>

I know dream sequences are frowned upon, but dreams fascinate me so much when they interwine bits from reality in them.  In my younger years, there were times I’d wake up unsure of whether something really happened or if it was a dream.  It’s such an odd feeling.  Thanks so much for reading, please feel free to share your thoughts!


68 thoughts on “Alternative Healing

  1. Kir Piccini December 17, 2012 / 10:13 AM

    Oh Janna
    sometimes I wish that this could happen, that closure and forgiveness could be given in a dream. (I have dreamt a lot of things, have said my own “I’m sorry’s” and wished fervently for the same to come back to me)
    it is alternative but sometimes just what a heart needs…what a person needs.

    I did love this.

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:00 PM

      It would be nice if we could resolve broken relationships like this and be free of the guilt. When something bothers me in my waking hours, I have had dreams about it (when I feel stress, I still have waitressing nightmares.) Just dreaming that the burden was released can make it so…and if the person’s spirit actually did communicate in the dream- even better 🙂

      I appreciate you reading and sharing your thoughts about the story, Kir. Thank you 🙂

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:02 PM

      Thank you so much, Subhabrata. I’m glad you liked the story!

  2. ApplePieAndNapalm December 17, 2012 / 10:25 AM

    Janna, this was fantastic, great job! You write beautifully and it inspires me to work on my own writing today. I had a strange dream recently and I have started a blog post about it. Thanks to you, today I will finish it.

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:03 PM

      I appreciate the compliment, APaN! I hope you do finish that post because I’d love to read about your dream 🙂

  3. Yvonne Root December 17, 2012 / 10:52 AM

    Janna, quit the day job.

    You really are a very good writer. This story speaks to so many on so many levels. And I love your skill for delivery.

    Well done!

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:07 PM

      Your comment made my heart soar, Yvonne. Thank you 🙂 I feel like the blog practice has helped my writing, and I do look forward to the day when I can write full-time.

  4. cshowers December 17, 2012 / 11:16 AM

    Wow, that was heartbreaking and totally believable. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:08 PM

      Thanks for stopping by to read the story, Cheryl!

  5. Tessa December 17, 2012 / 11:18 AM

    This is like a lot of times when someone sees someone as they have just died and come back to say good bye. He asked for forgiveness. I am glad he seemed to forgive him. Great job!

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:11 PM

      Thanks, Tessa. I do believe that people can hang onto life until they are sure their loved ones can cope with their passing. I think the son will forgive his dad, though it may take time to diffuse so many years of anger.

      • Tessa December 18, 2012 / 8:56 PM

        I believe that too!

  6. C.S. Severe December 17, 2012 / 12:13 PM

    Really enjoyed reading this. I feel that same way about dreams. Sometimes they appear so real, I’m convinced they happened. And how do we know whether or not they did happen? I think this is great.

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:16 PM

      Thanks, C.S. Severe. I’m glad you stopped by to read the story.

      I have one dream that stands out as seeming so real, but I know now that it can’t be: when I was about four, I had a dream that I went to put toys in my brother’s room. He had a plastic dog toy box and in this dream, the toy box chased me and tried to bite me. I refused to go in his room after that, terrified that the dog would bite me.

  7. Debbie December 17, 2012 / 12:41 PM

    Well written, Janna. You’ve cast a spell over your readers and made us care for these characters, all in 300 words. That’s talent, my friend!

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:17 PM

      Thanks for your sweet words of encouragement, Debbie! I appreciate you always taking time to read my stories and share your thoughts.

  8. Annabelle December 17, 2012 / 3:38 PM

    Beautifully done. I like the ambiguity of feeling here; it feels both real and touching.

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:20 PM

      I’m glad this felt real. I appreciate you stopping by to read it, Annabelle 🙂

  9. Draug419 December 17, 2012 / 6:52 PM

    I like dream sequences. (: And my real dreams are very vivid and often leave me with that feeling you describe. I once dreamt I robbed a bank (why??? lol) and when I woke up it took a minute or so to convince myself I wasn’t hiding from the police!

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:27 PM

      Oh my goodness, I can imagine the bank robbing scenario would’ve been frightening. I’d probably convince myself that I did do it but my undiagnosed sleep walking problem messed with my recollection of my crime 🙂

      Thanks for the laugh, Draug!

  10. lumdog December 17, 2012 / 8:17 PM

    I was immediately captivated by this story. I’ve had issues with my father, not quite like this, but I can totally identify. Great story!

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:32 PM

      Thanks, Lumdog. I hope you and your father find peace (if you haven’t already.)

  11. judithhb December 17, 2012 / 8:49 PM

    Great job Janna. So very believable. Thanks!

  12. mindofshoo December 17, 2012 / 8:56 PM

    OH my! Wonderfully done. I feel the emotion as I read this story. A dream yet the story is all too real to many. TY for sharing.

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:37 PM

      Thanks so much! I’m happy you felt the emotions of the story. I appreciate you stopping by to read it 🙂

  13. nrhatch December 17, 2012 / 9:37 PM

    Terrific tell, Janna . . . great that his dad swung by to say good-bye and I’m sorry. 😀

    • jannatwrites December 17, 2012 / 10:44 PM

      If only it always worked out that way, right? If the son will accept the apology then he might find some peace. Thanks for reading, Nancy!

  14. RogRites (aka BetaRules) December 18, 2012 / 1:19 AM

    I got a shiver when I read the last line.

    • jannatwrites December 18, 2012 / 10:35 PM

      Great! That’s the kind of reaction I hoped for, RogRites 🙂 I appreciate you taking time to read the story.

  15. habibadanyal December 18, 2012 / 4:21 AM

    Ah! At least he apologized, in dream or in reality, who cares!

    • jannatwrites December 18, 2012 / 10:36 PM

      You’re right Habibadanyal…an apology can pave the way to forgiveness however it occurs.

  16. Tori Nelson December 18, 2012 / 4:54 AM

    Janna, Whewwww. This is powerful writing. Forgiveness seems hard, but regret so much harder.

    • jannatwrites December 18, 2012 / 10:37 PM

      I would have to agree with you, Tori. Regret is a heavy burden.

  17. Sandra Tyler (@SFiberworks) December 18, 2012 / 4:55 AM

    That knocked the wind out of me a bit. I remember dreaming about my dad after he died. I would be looking in the bathroom mirror and he would be reflected back at me.

    • jannatwrites December 18, 2012 / 10:39 PM

      How fascinating, Sandra. Did this happen more than once? I’d like to think I’d find comfort in it, but it would be a bit unnerving.

  18. Jennifer Dillon December 18, 2012 / 10:21 AM

    Jesus Janna, you raised the hair on my arms not once but twice. The first time because of the emotional honesty and I think so many of us can relate to this addiction, and this line in particular: I’m surprised by the lump in my throat and confused that the old man’s touch comforts me. And then for it to be a dream, the transition was seamless.

    • jannatwrites December 18, 2012 / 10:44 PM

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to share your reaction to the story, Jennifer. I enjoyed reading your comment!

  19. Linda Vernon December 18, 2012 / 11:17 AM

    Just a snippet that says so much and comes alive in 333 words. Excellent JannaT!

  20. diannegray December 18, 2012 / 2:54 PM

    This gave me absolute chills all over. What an amazing story! Love it!

    • jannatwrites December 18, 2012 / 10:46 PM

      Chills? Wow, thanks, Dianne! I’m glad you liked the story. I appreciate you stopping by to read it.

  21. Carl D'Agostino December 18, 2012 / 4:03 PM

    My parents have lived with me last 10 years. There were always a distance and resentments between mother and I who passed Sept 17. I was her home hospice nurse for those last five weeks. Much reconciliation was achieved without conversation and in silence . She passed with me at her bedside. A half hour after she died a tear formed and fell from her left eye.

    • jannatwrites December 18, 2012 / 10:49 PM

      That is a touching story, Carl. Thank you for sharing it. I’m so glad that you and your mom were able to work things out before she passed away.

    • jannatwrites December 18, 2012 / 10:49 PM

      Thank you, Ruby. I do appreciate you reading!

  22. GodGirl December 19, 2012 / 1:12 AM

    Oh my gosh, this is truly chilling Janna. What a twist. Awesome job, especially the description of coming out of the dream, really captures that emergence back into reality that we feel… followed by such a perfect shock ending. Totally impressed, well done.

    • jannatwrites December 19, 2012 / 9:41 PM

      I appreciate you reading, Ali. I’m glad you enjoyed the story and the ending as well. I had hoped that the disoriented feeling came through.

  23. vivinf rance December 19, 2012 / 3:27 AM

    Out of the nightmare came healing. A touching story.

    • jannatwrites December 19, 2012 / 9:42 PM

      Healing may take time, but this is a good start, at least. Thanks for reading, Vivinfrance!

  24. Tara R. December 19, 2012 / 7:53 AM

    A powerful reminder to make our peace while we can. Very poignant.

    • jannatwrites December 19, 2012 / 9:43 PM

      Making peace as we go along is a much better way to ensure we aren’t saddled with regret. Appreciate you stopping by to read, Tara.

  25. deanabo December 19, 2012 / 1:36 PM

    It scares me when my dreams are so vivid. I always wonder if they are trying to tell me something. Great reminder to not hold on to anger.

    • jannatwrites December 19, 2012 / 9:44 PM

      I don’t remember dreams very often anymore, but when I was younger, there were some crazy ones that left me wondering what in the world it meant! Glad you stopped by, Deanabo,

  26. KymmInBarcelona December 19, 2012 / 3:52 PM

    Touching (yet kinda disturbing) tale.

    If you don’t mind a suggestion: you really don’t need “Thank God I’m not.”

    • jannatwrites December 19, 2012 / 9:46 PM

      Yeah, it’s a little on the strange side, Kymm! Could be just a dream, or a visit from his dad’s spirit. Thanks for offering your suggestion….others’ opinions are welcome here!

  27. Stephanie B. (@B4Steph) December 20, 2012 / 5:24 PM

    I dreamed of my mother often after she died. This hit me. Dreams or spirits – either way it gets to you. Nice writing.

    • jannatwrites December 21, 2012 / 10:50 PM

      You’ve got it exactly, Stephanie. I appreciate you reading and sharing your experience as well!

  28. Tina December 21, 2012 / 9:00 AM

    This was so touching. You truly have a gift for getting my choked up!

    • jannatwrites December 21, 2012 / 10:54 PM

      I appreciate you taking time to read the story, Tina. I’m glad it made you feel something!

  29. Sandra December 21, 2012 / 2:39 PM

    Wow, Janna. You are such a talented writer. Your stories are so touching and seamless. I love this one!

    • jannatwrites December 21, 2012 / 10:57 PM

      Thanks for the nice compliment, Sandra. I’m glad you enjoyed this story. I enjoy writing them, but of course it’s much more fun when a story is enjoyed by others 🙂

  30. pattisj December 30, 2012 / 9:43 PM

    This was great, Janna. The dreamer probably wondered if it was real or a dream for awhile, too. 🙂

    • jannatwrites December 30, 2012 / 10:12 PM

      Yeah, I’d be a bit dazed, that’s for sure! Thanks for reading the story, Patti!

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