Kyle moved a chair behind his mother, helping her sit. He and Chris also took chairs near their mother, several feet from their father. Mike held out his hand to his younger son.
“Pleased to meet you, son. You look much like I remember. Only you lost that baby fat.” His blue eyes sparkled with tears, but he blinked them away. “One of the girls will bring tea shortly. I’m not allowed coffee these days.” He coughed. It was a deep, rattling, raspy sound. Grabbing a tissue, he held it over his mouth.
Kyle offered him a sip of water, which he accepted with a nod of thanks.
“You look a lot worse than you did a month ago.”
“Time catching up with me. How is Emily?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her. She and I went our separate ways.”
“That’s a shame. You two belong together.”
“You’re an expert on relationships now?”
“No. And expert on Emily. Once I heal someone—a part of them belongs to me for a time. At least that’s how I explain it. I see into their hearts for awhile. She cares about you.”
“Apparently not as much as we hoped.”
“What happened hurt her.”
“Yeah, well you’d decidedly be an expert on that.”
“Kyle Scott, you apologize to your father!” His mother entered the conversation in a shrill voice. “That wasn’t nice.”
“It’s alright, Amy. Let the boy say what he needs to. I didn’t expect—this to be easy.”
“What did you expect?” Chris asked.
Mike laughed softly, ending in another cough. “I don’t know. Boys, I know what I did was harsh, callous—but I couldn’t put the call off any longer. When I healed Kyle, my gifts burst free like the Fourth of July. There was this incredible fireworks display inside me and I had to learn to control it. I also knew I had to be in a position to share it with as many people as I could. I couldn’t do that selling life insurance.”
“Why didn’t you ever come by? Or call?” Chris asked. “You could have done something.”
“Your mother didn’t want me around. She made that very clear.”
“And you were in the habit of doing whatever she said?” He made a rude noise, rolling his eyes.
“I knew I couldn’t continue to be a husband and father. It was the worst decision I ever had to make.”
“And the most selfish,” Kyle added caustically. “And you accuse our mother of being selfish. I’d say annulling your marriage to become a priest takes the cake on selfish.”
“Kyle always put everyone else first,” Chris said to his parents. “When you left, he took care of us. He was seven—seven! He took better care of me my whole life than either of you. I’m truly sorry you’re dying, Mike. I bet you were a real special guy. But the fact is, the only person I feel sorry for in this room is my brother. So save your apologies and your platitudes, cause it makes no difference now. He’s screwed, you’re dying and Mom’s a basket case.”
“What about you?”
“Me? My problem is I can’t commit to a relationship longer than six months, my track record to date, because I’m afraid I’ll end up like my parents. So you’re selfish, she’s controlling and I’m dysfunctional. It totally sucks that the only reason you’re contacting us now is because you’re about to die. Did it occur to you that maybe we’d have liked to meet you a long time ago? What good are you now? What the hell good are you?” Angry, he left the room, nearly knocking over the woman with the tea.
Kyle followed him, running after his brother. Chris barreled out the front door, stopping several feet from the door. He was crying, his body heaving and convulsing with the violence of his tears. Kyle caught up with him, helping him to a nearby bench. A statue of St. Francis stood silent vigil over the shady retreat.
“Shh, calm down, Chris. You’re gonna hyperventilate. Have you got an inhaler with you?”
“N—no.” He hiccuped, gasping. “Can’t—can’t br….”
The receptionist poked her head out the door. She’d seen them run out and thought she should check on them. Kyle bellowed at her to get help.
Moments later a doctor and a nurse were outside with a wheelchair. They took him inside, giving him a breathing treatment.
© Dellani Oakes