Liberation

“I’m sorry, Michael, but your condition is terminal. You have three months to live, at most.”

Michael sits there, surprised at first. He furrows his brow, because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you get news like that.

“Thank you, doctor.” He gets up, shakes the doctor’s hand and walks out to his car.

He puts his key in the ignition and just stops. He’s only 64 years old. He’s too young to die. He doesn’t even feel sick.

As he’s sitting there, still trying to process the news, an incredible feeling of relief washes over him like a good hot shower after a long hard day of work at the plant.

He starts up the car, and turns on the radio. The song playing is their song. He used to sing it to his wife all the time to make her laugh. Oh how he loved to make her laugh!

He starts singing along loudly, bobbing his head. “Yeah! YEAH! YEAAAAAH!”

He pulls into the grocery store parking lot. He goes in and heads straight for the meat counter. He gets the biggest T-bone he could find. Before heading out, he also grabs a case of beer.

“Hey Mike! You seem in a good mood today. I haven’t seen you this happy in a while.” “I am in a good mood! Thanks, Mona. See you later.” Michael pays and heads back to his car with his soon to be feast.

He gets home, cracks open a beer, and fires up the barbecue. Chugs down half the beer and sets the steak on the grill. “Man! This is going to be good!” he says out-loud.

He sits down to his feast and turns on the kitchen TV. His favourite baseball team is winning. Can the day get any better than this?

Once he’s done, he cleans up the kitchen, grabs another beer and sits down in front of the TV in the living room to watch a movie.

A James Bond movie is on. He saw it for the first time in the movie theatre with his wife.

His heart breaks at that thought.

He’s actually been heartbroken every day for the past year. He kept doing what he had to do, because that’s what you do. But it was hard to carry on with that kind of pain. It briefly went away today after he got the news. But now it comes rushing back in like a dark heavy wave.

The movie ends. Michael gets ready for bed and crawls in. He looks over at his wife’s photo and smiles. “I’ll be there soon, babe.”

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This story was inspired by a Writer’s Digest prompt for a short story contest:

A man is surprised to find himself feeling both pleased and liberated by the news that he will soon die.