The Last Memory by Marilyn

Word Count 1,784

Here is another ficlet I had written about the fears a father goes through, when he thinks he’s loosing his son for the second time in his life.

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Murdoch sat quietly next to Johnny’s bed, refusing to move from his side until his son woke up. He gently stroked his flushed cheek like he used to do when Johnny was a child. Then he played with his long darks bangs draped over the blood stained bandage around his head. Running his long fingers through them, he messaged his scalp in a tickling manner, another way he used to wake his boy. But none seem to be working thus far. Johnny still lay in a deep sleep, lost in the darkness induced by the coma he had been in the for last two days.

“Why, Son? Why? Why did you have to race out and save the little girl from that runaway wagon? Why?” he whispered in Johnny’s ear. “No, don’t tell me why, I know. It was the right thing to do. Must you always put others before yourself? ” Murdoch beckoned for the answer. “I know it’s selfish of me to say that, but look what it did to you? It’s been two days John, it’s time to wake up now, you hear me?” Still nothing.

The distraught father fought against his body’s demands to rest, he had to stay awake for Johnny’s sake, but he just couldn’t fight it any longer. So he lay his head down next to Johnny’s, closed his weary eyes and murmured, “Please don’t let…this be….my last….memory of…you.” his words trailed off as he finally drifted off, his mind 
fading back to the past.



***********


“Hehehehehe……hehehehehehe, can’t get me papa.” The bright eyed nino giggled as he ran around the great room, running as fast as his chubby little legs would allow him.

“You little rascal, you. I’ll get you yet!” The tall rancher yelled as he chased his spirited boy around the room, laughing his head off at the same time. Specially when he managed to escape his father’s grasp and run between his long legs.

“No, no, Papa, me to fast!”

 “We’ll see about that!” Murdoch got wise to his son’s little 
maneuvers, and decided to out trick him. He had to stifle the boy’s movements so he could grab him. “Johnny, look! Mamacita has your favorite dessert for you,” he said, and pointed to the table.

“Chocolate!” Johnny happily yelled, stopping in his tracks. He turned around then frowned and stomp his foot when he saw no mamacita. “Where, mama…..”

“GOT YOU!” Murdoch proclaimed victoriously as he scooped up his son with his huge hands, and swung him over his head. Up and down and around as though he was flying like a bird. A game they loved to play, whenever papa got the chance to.


“WEEEEEEEEEEE!” Johnny squealed and then spread his little arms out like wings and began to flap them. “Me a burd, I fly, Papa.” 

Murdoch began to feel a little dizzy and stopped the intoxicating movements before he went crashing to the ground, taking Johnny with him. Then he lowered Johnny down and cradled him in his arms as he drunkenly walked over to the sofa. 

“More, Papa, more. “

“No, my son, papa needs to sit down. But we’ll play bird later, okay?” Johnny nodded his dark head. “Papa wants to tell you 
something, so you listen okay.” He looked down in his son’s trusting big blue eyes, and his heart ached. “Papa has to go away for a couple of days, ” he sadly said.

“Why?” 

“Because I need to buy some moo moos… er…cows, for the ranch,” he tried to explained. “I want you to be a good boy for your mother, and mamacita, understand? I will be back as soon as I can. And if I hear you were a good boy, I might have a treat for you.” 

“Toy horsy Papa? I be good.” Johnny yipped, and jump up, threw his little arms around Murdoch’s neck and hugged him tightly. “Luv you, Papa.”


“I love you too, Son. Now it’s time to go to bed. So up we go!” 
Murdoch stood up, and flung his boy up on his strong shoulders and carried him off to bed. It was his turn to get Johnny dressed and ready for bed. So after reading his favorite bedtime story, he gently laid his sleeping baby in his crib, and leaned over and kissed his soft cheek. “Night my son, sweet dreams.”

Murdoch watched by the door for a few minutes more, and basked in the wondrous sight and sounds of his sleeping child. As all parents love to do, he listened and watched Johnny’s little chest rising and falling, his sweet, soft murmurs as he fussed to get conformable. His little man, who he hoped one day he could introduce to his big brother, if Harlan would even agree to it. `Maybe one day.’ he thought.

That night he had an uneasy feeling, but didn’t know why or what. All he knew was that he hated these business trips. All he wanted to do was to stay home and enjoy his family, but they were necessary ventures and he had no choice. After a few drinks of brandy, he headed on upstairs, climb into bed, gave his wife a kiss on the cheek, and quickly dosed off. For some reason he had slept a little harder, a sounder that night. Sadly he’d had no idea what was to going on around him. He’d heard nothing.

 
That morning he arose feeling very rested, but with a slight 
headache, as if he was drugged. He turned to wake his wife, but she was not there like she normally was, they always got up together. Then he noticed a few of her things were missing and he found it odd. Maybe she was rearranging things and placed them somewhere else. So he pushed himself out of bed, and got dressed. And like every morning since Johnny was born, he made it his first priority to check in on his son before starting the day. He made his way to the nursery, opened the door and his heart stopped cold. Johnny was gone.


The room looked like it was ransacked, or someone was packing in a hurry. Murdoch noticed that all but one blanket in Johnny’s crib was gone, only the blue blanket he gave him for his first birthday remained, flung over the bars. In sheer panic he ran downstairs calling for him, for his wife. His heart racing uncontrollable.


“MARIA! JOHNNY, WHERE ARE YOU?” Nothing. He ran out the French Doors and headed towards the bunkhouse. “PAUL, PAUL!” he called to his foreman. He was stopped short by the sight of Paul laying outside by the water trough, bloodied and just now waking up after being hit hard over the head. “Paul what happened? Where’s my wife and son?” he desperately asked.

“I tried….to …stop her, Murdoch. But….the man she was with….hit me from behind. They ran off…in the middle…of the night. I’m sorry, but I…was too late.” Paul regretfully explained, through the throbbing pain in his head. “They’re gone!’

Paul’s words painfully echoed in Murdoch’s ears. “They’re gone, they’re gone!” Over and over they repeated, as flashes of the night before shot through his head. Images of Johnny, and his sweet laugh, his trusting blue eyes staring up at him. The touch of his baby skin on his. His last memory of his son.


Murdoch turned and stared at the horizon. He didn’t utter a word, didn’t move a muscle, he couldn’t even feel his heart breaking in two. He was frozen in time. He felt empty and cold inside. The warmth, the joy he felt whenever he held his son, was no more. And he didn’t know if he would ever get that back, them back. “God no!’ he finally utter.

“Murdoch?” he heard his name but he couldn’t register where it was coming from.

*********



“Murdoch. Murdoch? Wake up,” the weak voice beckon him.

“Huh…mmmm, what?” Murdoch mumbled as he slowly lifted his head, and found a pair watery blue eyes staring up at him. “Johnny?”

“Hey.”

“Hey, yourself.” The worried father smiled widely. “It’s about time you woke up young man. I was…hum… beginning to worry I… would never see those blue eyes of yours again,” he said clearing his throat, to keep from choking on his words. Not realizing his face was stained with dry tears.

“Are you…okay?” Johnny weakly reached up and touched his father cheek. “You been crying?” 

Murdoch took his sons hand in his. “Uh, no, it’s just sleep, I 
was….in a deep sleep…and”

“Don’t lie …to me. You were crying. Why?”

Murdoch knew Johnny would not rest until he got an answer. “I was thinking of the past, Son. I was thinking of the last memory I had of you before your mother took you from me,” he sadly admitted. “And now, I thought you were slipping away from me again. I want us to make new ones, to remember as we get older. And I was scared I would never get that chance.”


“We will, I promise.” Johnny smiled, “It’s funny, while I was 
sleeping, I was in this dark, cold place looking for a way out, and then I heard your voice. Then it got brighter, and I saw faint images of the great room.” Johnny began to tell his father of his dream. “I saw you ….and a little boy, and….you was making him fly like a bird. He called you Papa. Was that me?”

“Yes, my son that was you. You were not quite two, and that was the last time I saw you.” Murdoch replied surprised. “I can’t believe you remember some of that night.”

“I had…no memory… until…now. Funny huh?” he sighed. “Maybe it’s the hit on the head.” He tried to joke and closed his tired eyes. “So…. tired.”

“You sleep now, John. We’ll talk later.”

“Don’t go far, huh? In my dream…I also remember screaming for you, don’t know why. But I heard Mama say to me… your papa can’t hear you…..he’ll never….hear you.” Then Johnny looked up at his father. “Then I… stopped crying.” And then he closed his eyes again and fell back to sleep.


“Sleep now, and don’t worry, your papa will always be here for you, now and forever. No matter how old you are, I’ll be there for you,” Murdoch strongly proclaimed. “And we’ll make new and better memories, the three of us, you, Scott and your old man. Together as a family.”



~end~

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