*#3 of the ISMAEL ORTIZ ESCRIBANO series. Extract from my Photography blog, Through Frog Eyes. Each month a guest photographer is featured and a short story is woven around a set of photographs. Please click on the link to read the previous stories and the complete version of the story below.
The sun was setting behind the hills as Sean McAllister left the clinic in a daze. He didn’t register scintillating rays of colour that seemed to set the clouds on fire, nor did the loud group of teenagers walking past him seem to make any difference to his world. The two large malamutes that sauntered past him dragging their owner along as he held their leashes normally would have made him stop and laugh, probably even take out his camera as well. Instead, all he could bring himself to do was zip up his jacket and shove his fisted hands into the side pockets. Two weeks, that was all the doctor had given him; not two months or even two years during which he could have accomplished so much more. Two weeks to live. How was he ever going to tell his family? As he blindly made his way towards the car he felt the drops on his cheeks. “Rain, I’m going to miss the rain” he muttered to nobody in particular, only to realise that the drops were his own tears.
The pain radiating down his back and abdomen was excruciating but Sean ignored all this for the sake of little Matthew sitting on his shoulders. These father-son walks were their special time together and the little boy always looked forward to the open space and adventures. Living with so many girls at home was stressful and both Sean and Matthew escaped for their “man time” as soon as their chores were done. The large, gentle, protective hands of the father held the son’s legs firmly as they walked down the path into the moors. There was a patch of trees with several fox holes where they liked to sit down and have their tea. It was Sean’s favourite part of the escapade because it was always his chance to catch up with Matthew and find out what was going on in school. He was not a very talkative boy, especially when his chatterbox sisters were around, but when it was just the two of them, Matthew seemed to make up for lost time and told his daddy everything his little mind could remember. Two weeks. Who was going to take six-year-old Matthew on these walks afterwards? Who would ensure that his little boy got his “man time” away from all the women? He had a birthday coming up next month and it broke Sean’s heart to think that he would no longer be around to help his son blow out the candles for any other birthdays, or give him his first driving lesson, share advice on his first date, move furniture to the first bachelor’s pad in uni…
“Hurry Daddy! Why are you so slow today? We might miss the foxes and the rabbits will be waiting for us too.”
“Och! Aye son, sorry m’lad, Daddy was just a little distracted. Did you bring your secret laser sword?”
“I had to stuff it under my shirt while the girls were combing Nan’s hair. They will be plenty mad at me when they find their toy mixer gone!”
“Attaboy! But be sure to give it back properly and say sorry. Remember this Matt, you will always be their big brother, and it is your duty to protect them and make sure nobody bullies them.”
“I thought that was your job Daddy… “
“Yeah, well, I can’t always be in three places at the same time. I need an assistant knight in shining armour, and that is you.”
Sean stopped, put his son down, looked around for a stick and said “Kneel young man, so I can formally knight you”
Matthew’s eyes shone with excitement and scrambled into a kneeling position with one let propped up like he had seen on television, and bowed his head.
Sean squeezed his eyes shut, inhaled sharply and prayed for courage. “I dub thee, Matthew McAllister, Knight and protector of the McAllister clan. You shall defend the honor of the McAllister name, clan, and women for as long as you live. Rise Sir Matthew Gallahad and fulfill your destiny!”
“What does a Knight answer daddy?”
“I think he just says ‘I shall do so with all my heart, faith, and courage’ “
“I shall do so with all my heart, faith, and courage.”
Sean looked up to the sky pleadingly “Lord I need 20 more years, not two weeks!”