Thursday photo #prompt – Fading #writephoto

“Mama, it looks like a horse on fire,” little Jeffrey said, pulling at his mother’s shirt.  “Can’t we help him?  Please?”

“It’s only a cloud, sweetie pie,” she said.  His little arms wrapped around her as far as they would go, his tears falling on her chest.  She felt the rough-hewn wood of an unfinished pier under her thin-soled shoes and wished that her son had so little discomfort to complain about in his 5 short years of life.  “Soon the sun will be down and the clouds will drop rain all over us.”

His lower lip trembled.  “They cry ’cause their stomach hurts.”

She gently kissed his bald head.  “Does your stomach hurt?”

Tears turned to sobs.  She reached into the pocket containing peppermints infused with pain medication, slipping a small wafer into his mouth.  In a minute, his pain would subside, and once she tucked him into bed next to her, he’d sleep for hours.

By 2025 society regained its sanity, allowing those with no hope to end their own suffering.  It took a few more years for laws allowing parents to make that choice for a child with no hope of seeing another year.

No more needles or chemotherapy, no more attempts to stem the progression of a brain tumor that refused to go away.  Choosing the day of his death — that was a simple matter.  Nature, however, refused to cooperate. 

He was here, with her, on this glorious day to watch the sunset.  Above all else, he loved listening to water gently lap against the shore while he pointed at a cloud with a tiny finger and giggled at the sights his imagination created.  Sunrise or sunset, it didn’t matter, as long as the celestial fireball floated over an ocean horizon.  

Tomorrow, on this pier, they’d watch the sun rise together.  At his happiest moment she’d offer him a chocolate drop, his favorite, and hold him in her arms until his last, soft, breath whispered to the clouds, “I’m finally home.”