Her Father's Voice

Flash Fiction | Speculative/Drama

It began, as it always did, with strings.

   A slow and steady melody built as a bow drew back and forth in long, thoughtful strokes alternating between a low, chilling drone, and a high-toned, hopeful promise. The tears did not come yet, but they were on their way. For now, the image of her father's smile as they ran on the beach drew to the front of her memory. The music continued, but with her deep, shuddering breaths, the strings call seemed to match the flow of the ocean as its tide rolled in, pausing for a moment, before drawing back out.She closed her eyes as the pace quickened, the strings dancing with one another as the bow commanded their song with rapid succession.

   To any other girl, this may have encouraged a bobbing of the head or a tapping of toes, but she did neither of these things. Instead, she sat with her legs folded beneath her, propped up at the pillow end of the bed. Her eyes closed. A lump tightening in her young throat. His illness was short, but the white and sky blue sheets of his hospital bed lingered. She sobbed, recalling his words and the soft skin on the back of his outstretched hand.

   "You'll be ok, pet."

Strings gave way to the tinkling blend of an impossibly slow piano section. Each note, little more than a kiss on each ivory key as they surrendered to the pianist's touch. Her tears shook free of her lashes and took flight down the curve of her cheek. Those she didn't mop with her sleeve, fell to her quilt, or splashed in a small blotch on her laptop. 

   His voice came once more, as it always did, though not a memory this time, but through the over-ear headphones she held comfortably tight to her head.

And he sang.

In this

My love
My journeys complete
For you
My all
My every heartbeat

   The message was for her mother, written many years before she'd been born. She owed these words, and his song, to everything she knew. To her existence. She fought down her anguish and the urge to kick the laptop away, but more damage would not repair her loss, and the words were not meant to hurt her, even if they did.

   She swallowed the lump and blinked away the last of her tears as the song entered its final section. His chorus rang over and over with its theme of longing as the strings and piano brought the composition to a close. One heart promised to another, captured forever as a digital ode to outlast even the strongest fighter wearing the bravest flesh.

   She woke her screen up by drawing the cursor back and forth in long, thoughtful strokes before seeking the play button once more, and the bittersweet call of her father's voice.