Fifty-Three

What’s this? I haven’t posted in months, and now I have TWO in the same day? Yep.

I haven’t played in the 500 Club in far too long. The last set of prompts really got the wheels turning. So not only did I participate, I incorporated both prompts. So here it is:

Fifty-Three

Sam opened the paper to the classified, something he hasn’t done in years, and nearly dropped his coffee when he read,

Sam

If you can read this, please help! There’s no time to waste. You know where to find us.

This wasn’t supposed to happen anymore. He’d retired, the pains in his joints finally matching the pains in his heart. He had to stop, or he would have died before he was ready. They knew it before he knew it, yet they continued to call for him.

He folded the paper and laid it on the table. It just wasn’t possible. Fifteen years had gone without incident. When he first set his foot down, he still checked the ads.

Fifty-three.

Fifty-three ads. Fifty-three incidents. Fifty-three deaths he couldn’t stop before they stopped printing them. He was sure they knew he wouldn’t answer them anymore after the first week went by. They were spiteful regardless of the years he gave them, the lives he saved. They wouldn’t be happy until he gave his life to them.

Sam felt a duty to his species. A duty he failed to ever put into meaningful words. The weak, the frail, the unknowing were too high a price. One soul, one too many. He did what he felt was his part. That didn’t mean they owned him.

“Honey?” Martha called from the bedroom. “Will you check if there are any specials at Joanne’s? I want to make some curtains that’ll match the spread I got last week.”

“Yes, Dear.”

The paper was harmless. Sam knew it, but it still took him a moment to reach for it. He tore out a half-page ad, and manged to drop several pages. He collected the scattered pages, only half trying to stack them neatly again. His ad was on top.

If you can read this…

He flipped the paper and slid it a little more forcefully than he inttended to the opposite side of the table. The whole thing fell over the edge. A bigger mess, but he didn’t care. He’d be alright if he could just sit here and rub his temples for a bit.

“What’s all that noise you’re making?”

“Nothing,” Sam lied. “The paper just got away from me while I was tearing out an ad for you.”

“Okay. Just make sure you pick it up. I don’t want you falling and hurting your hip again.”

“Yes, Dear.”

Three pops and a long creek later, Sam stood up to clean his mess. He managed to keep the ad from view, but he knew the words well.

please help!

Fifty-four.

“Hey, dad. Let me get that for you.”

Sam must not have heard the door open. It didn’t squeak like it used, though Martha disagreed.

“Don’t be silly. I’m not an invalid.”

“Tell that to your hip.”

He said it with a smile. Even without seeing his face, Sam could hear it in his voice. There was love and strength in it. He might have gruffed openly at his son, but he was grateful to be sitting again.

His son flipped through the pages of the paper as he fitted it back together. He paused once. Just a moment, the smile barely slipping, but back so quick, Sam wondered if it really happened.

No. He knew it happened.

“Oh, Junior! I didn’t know you were here,” Martha said, walking into the room. “Have some breakfast. I’m sure your dad would enjoy the company.”

“I would love to mom,” he said with real reluctance in his voice, “but I’m needed this morning.”

Sam watched his son leave followed closely by his mother. He didn’t move from the table, his coffee cold, the paper neat.

Sam wept.

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