The Good Son
Sometimes at dusk we would see him come out from the hidden interior of his island. For years we had no idea who he was or what he did until this brave boy Elmer chose to swam into his island. A tall thin boy who works as a diver for Mang Intoy, he was always crazy to know what that man on the island hid or why he was hiding in the first place. So he swam one day, hoping to know the truth once and for all.
The island was not a standout. The sea slaps the shore with a great deal of strength, but at the same time, it seems like the waves are actually playing along, enjoying every strong coming, and the waves are actually high-fiving the naughty waters, only the slaps were too hard. The roar of the sea becomes the laughter of the playmates, while the chirps of the birds in the nearby wilderness becomes the cheers. Interestingly, the trees sway unobtrusively. While others are playing, they are the ones that maintain the stillness of the island. They are the ones who keep people away, keeping the just-another-island look.
Tired from all the swimming, Elmer did not have the luxury of looking at the scene that welcomed and not welcomed him at the same time. He went straight to a small opening amid the trees, a path that has become one due to years of walking on it. He acted as if he was sure where to go. It was getting dark, but he wasn’t worried about having to swim back to the island where his living lived. He walked on, determined to see the man in the island.
Suddenly, he heard a shout. It sounded more like pain than fear. He ran. He was not afraid. There were sounds of clashing shells as he ran, its plastic bag dripping with water from the long swim. It could have been money, but from his earnings, he bought clams for dinner. When he heard a clink of glasses, he rummaged the bag and retrieved two small bottles. Holding each in each of his hand, he figured that these bottles might come in handy later, when worse gets to worse.
He knew where to go. It was as if his feet were programmed to take the lead the moment he stepped on the playing shore a while ago. He ran, jumped over big roots, skidded on muddy paths, and bent over branches, until he reached the cave. The shout of agony was clearer and louder. He found his target.
"Tay," he said, his worried voice vibrating inside the whole cave.
He lit all the torches and made fire. He let the water boil, afterwards putting all the clams in. He went on to tend his father. He can still hear deep breaths of agony as he spread a minty ointment over his father’s arm.
Over his father’s rotting arms. Flies have taken abode on his father’s decaying body. There were worms here and there, maggots feeding on the cadaver. The atmosphere brings with it a smell that sores the nose, a mixture of a rotten body and stinking fish, but Elmer did not care. He still hears his father’s moans. He still sees him breathe despite the soul’s separation from the mortal body a long time ago. He continually spreads the ointment that he has bought with his earnings from the diving.
Sometimes at dusk we would see him come out from the hidden interior of his island. He would work and work for his father, believing that his father is living still. Soon, he promises, when Tatay gets better, they could leave the island and start a new life in a different town, in a town where they would not be hurt for being different anymore.
"Tatay, I will never let you go." Elmer whispers as the dusk comes again. He scratches his jaw, touching the snake-like scales on it, "I never will."
Posted on Tuesday, 3 September
Tagged as: writing prompt blogged fiction writingprompt flash fiction