Word Count: 471
By Anne Nassar
He woke up and at first he couldn’t identify the sound that caused his heart to race. After a few seconds, though, he realized that it was his cell phone buzzing.
He knew it could be his older daughter, or the nursing home. So he got out of bed.
The phone was in his jeans pocket. He couldn’t remember where he took them off.
So he crawled around the laundry-strewn floor in the pitch black darkness, trying to find his jeans by touch.
The buzzing stopped abruptly.
He cursed, because now he was wide awake. He knew he’d never be able to go back to sleep without taking a pill.
He found the light switch and turned the light on. He found his glasses and put them on.
His jeans were hung on the back of the chair. He checked his phone, to see who had called.
It was his ex-wife, Tessa.
He cursed again. A call in the middle of the night meant that she was drunk and despondent. He didn’t want to listen to her cry. She deserved to cry, in his opinion. So, he didn’t call her back, and he turned off his phone.
He laid back down and tried to get comfortable, despite the pain.
He tried to empty his mind of thoughts, to focus on the dark. But it was no use.
Turning his gaze towards the window, he saw that the streetlights were out, and clouds blocked the moon. The wind howled, the waves crashed into the dock, and he could hear the rumble of thunder far off. We’re in for a storm, he thought.
There was a scraping and scratching at the bedroom door. Mitzi let herself in. She jumped up on the bed, as though she didn’t know any better. She snuggled in close to him.
He petted her matted fur absently. She smelled like she’d been playing with a dead fish.
When the lightning cracked, Mitzi whimpered.
Tessa was afraid of lightning, too. He wondered if she had called because she was alone and wanted him to come over. He wondered if her 65-year old “boyfriend” had gone back to his wife and left her to fend for herself in the chintzy little apartment he’d rented for her.
He said to Mitzi, “Let’s call your mom.”
When he turned his phone back on, he saw Tessa had texted him.
It said, I want Sophia to go Wells. I want Ella to get the surgery on her back, I’ve done a lot of research and I really think it’s the best thing. Make these things happen. I trust you. I bequeath Mitzi to you.
His heart thudded against his ribs. He wanted to get up, but he couldn’t. He tried to call out Sophia’s name, but there was no breath in his lungs.