I needed to be on work on time. Today of all days. To impress my manager after the previous day's incident, where I yet again made a fool of myself. I seemed to make a fool of myself every single day.
"Dad?" I called. "Dad I need a lift today, I need to get to work early today." At least I would get something right and start off the day with the appearance of being competent.
"Can't right now son, I'm on the toilet and I may be some time!" came the reply thundering down the stairs, a tinge of strain behind each word.
"Come on dad, I might lose my job..." I trailed off, muttering that I couldn't lose my job. My thoughts were becoming verbalized as my stress levels increased. This job meant a lot to me. I only had $20 in the bank, and I was supposed to be chipping in and helping with mum's medical bills. So far I'd barely managed to save a cent, every time I thought I was getting somewhere I had one unexpected bill after another. Maybe I could jog to work... the walk was only 30 minutes, and if I jogged I might get there in 20... still I'd only be just on time, not early. As I began pacing frantically I heard the toilet flush upstairs - dad! - my hear leapt for joy.
"Alright, son!" he called. "I snapped it off early just for you, I won't let you lose your job. Let's go!"
We bundled into the car. He patted his pockets for his keys, found them, and started the ignition. "Off we go, I reckon we'll get you there 10 minutes early at the least."
We'd made it about 8 minutes in silence. I looked over at my father, proud and grateful to have a considerate man like him drop everything, well, nearly everything, for me. I noticed some sweat beads along his forehead and sweat stains on his armpits. "Are you all right dad? Want me to crank the a.c?"
"No I. N-no," he spluttered.
"What's wrong dad? Are you okay?"
"I think I'm having a s-s-stroke. I c-can't see and my arms don't... I feel.... I f-feel..." suddenly the car lunged into the kerb, the tyre flapping against it and making a horrible noise. I screamed as the car veered on and off the road, hitting the kerb repeatedly. Dad managed to hit the brakes. Too late. We smashed into the back of a parked car. The windscreen cracked, but held in place. The driver's air-bag went off, propping my father awkwardly between it and the window.
"D-don't stop for me son. Your work is more important. We're nearly there. Go! Go! I'll be fine" he laboured. "I'll be fine! Go on...without me!"
Tears streamed down my face as I left the car and called the ambulance. "My father's had a stroke!" I yelled at the lady down the line, before listing the cross streets where the accident occurred. By the time I made it to work I was a mess, and only on time. Not early. The whole thing had been a disaster. I told my boss about it, he was sympathetic. Asked if I needed the day off. I refused, cleaned myself up and got on with it, putting it all to the back of my mind. My sister phoned - I told her the whole story. She asked me not to work any over time, to go straight over to the hospital and be with dad. So when my shift ended I tried calling him, he didn't answer. I got a bus to the hospital, but they said I'd just missed him. He'd been discharged. Arriving home I went to his room and gingerly knocked. "Come in," came the weary reply
"Dad, I'm so sorry, it's all my fault, I'll pay for everything, are you okay? Please be okay!"
"I really scared you there didn't I son," he punctuated with a cough, looking pained. "I'm okay. but I'll give you some advice the doctor gave to me. Never pinch off a turd, son. Never pinch one off early.It was just a bit of indigestion."