It was too late. Probably it had always been too late.
But that was a lie, meant to console me, and today I could not console myself with lies.
I sat on the floor, his note in my hand, as the radio played on. I’d always hated that jaunty tune with its relentless, hectoring optimism. He’d always loved it. How had I forgotten that? I mean, in twenty years, yes, of course I could forget, but not that day, the day I found his note and the money wrapped inside it.
Don’t do it tomorrow, he’d scrawled.
… tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow … mocked the radio.
I’d been furious. A bribe to stop me going, when he had gone himself? How dare he interfere?
I’d stuffed his money in a charity box before I’d calmed down. But when I had calmed down, and decided that if he cared so much I should take his advice, a tiny corner of my mind – the corner that had been too terrified to buy the tickets – had been too relieved to consider any alternative meanings.
I never saw him again.
And now the note and the radio together, and now that it really was too late I understood.
“That was Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow,” the announcer informed me perkily.
And I wept.
I wrote this, oh, ages ago, for Visdare. I typed it up on a Tuesday night, editing as I went, and got it down to 148 just in time for my computer to freeze up … so here’s the long cut, and be told, kids – save as you go.
Oh, and the story? That came because when I first glanced at the prompt I read ‘Don’t walk’.