short story by Seth Dombach (Kloipy)
I now present my non-winning entry for NPRs ‘Three Minute Fiction’ contest. The contest was to write a story that was in the style of a voicemail. Here is my attempt
Hey Uncle John. I know you won’t get this message. I don’t know why I’m even leaving this on here, but I guess I’m compelled to for some reason or another. I guess it just feels like I need to tell you this. Um, I don’t know how to really say this so I wrote it down so I could get it out for what I really had to say but even that doesn’t feel right, so here it goes anyway.
I first wanted to say that I’m sorry that I didn’t stay on the phone with you longer the last time we talked. It’s not that I didn’t want to talk to you. I know I told you that I was busy and had to go, but I know that you knew I was lying about that. Honestly, I didn’t even mean to lie when I got on with you, it just kind of blurted out. I want you to know that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk with you, but, and I know this is a cop out; it was too hard to do it.
For a long time it was easy to pretend that you were ok. Like, I thought maybe it was getting better, or maybe if I didn’t think about it, it would, I don’t know, go away or something like that. But in the past few months it just got harder and harder to lie to myself about it. I could just tell from your voice that you were getting weaker and that things weren’t looking good. The last time I saw you we got a chance to spend a lot of time together and that was so much fun and meant so much to me, but I could also tell that you weren’t fully yourself. The last time we spoke, I could hardly recognize it was you. You sounded so tired and it just wrecked me to have to hear you like that. It just made it too real and I wasn’t ready to accept that. Like if I didn’t talk to you it would go away and the next time would be different.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say, because I could talk with you forever. I didn’t want to have a ‘last’ conversation. I didn’t know how to say something that would be profound or life changing or anything like that. In a way I didn’t want to hear that from you either. I wanted it to just be a normal call with nothing behind it. Just talking like we always did.
Now, I feel like a coward because I couldn’t be strong enough to just tell you again one last time how much you meant to me. I hope I was able to show you that and I meant it when I told you before that you were closer to me than anyone in my family. It was like for once being able to know that I wasn’t alone, I had someone related to me that understood, and that bond we had was just instant, you know?
I know that nothing in life is ever permanent except this. I guess I knew deep down that our time was short. I just thought that it wasn’t fair that it was passing by too quick. I wish I could have been as strong as you. I wish we could talk again. I just hope you know how much I loved you even if I couldn’t say it one last time.