by delores oneale
(johannesburg, south africa)
**Disclaimer-Parents please preview this story. It includes thoughts about suicide that may be too mature for some, but can lead to good discussions for the appropriate ages.
Under the large oak tree, Samuel sat with his pet Labrador, contemplating his suicide. He looked up at the old farmhouse and visualized his family members. His father a large bullish man and his mother a timid woman. His two irritating sisters Joanne and Jessie both plump and lazy annoyed him immensely. How he hated living with this unruly divided family. Every day being told what to do, where to go, and beaten by his father for no particular reason at all, had enough.
"I hate you all," he screeched, knowing they could not hear him.
Twitching a piece of grass in his hands, with his knees folded, he continued with his demonic thoughts. Sammy continued talking to his dog Jock whilst stroking his head.
"Maybe I should gas myself. We have the large gas cooker in the kitchen, but I will have to make sure they are not at home when I do that. Perhaps I should hang myself, yes under this large oak tree. He laughed talking to himself, I can just imagine, my family running down the steps from the house and find me hanging from a rope with my neck drooped. Yes they will be so sorry for this, and I will be gone forever" He tossed the grass away and continued looking at the house.
He did not notice Jessie plodding down the stairs walking in his direction, "Sammy, Sammy," she shouted. "Dad wants you to clean the chicken pen, and you had better hurry up, lazy bones."
She stood in front of him waiting for him to get up. He looked at her with a non-complacent look, "Oh no not again, can't the old man get any helpers to do these menial tasks?" he asked.
"I am going to tell him, and you will get another beating," she said turning around to leave. He stood up and grabbed her arm, "No don’t do that, I was only joking," he said. She jerked her arm freeing herself from him and ran back towards the house.
He walked slowly towards the chicken pens and picked up the broom; sweeping and cleaning at such slow pace, lost in his own little world, did not notice his father behind him.
The old man Jackson, slapped him on the back of the head shouting in a stern voice, "Get a move on lad, there is still lots to be done."
Sammy turned around lifting the broom with the intention of hitting his father and looking at his stern face decided not to do that. "Sorry dad, I will clean up quickly," he replied in a quivering voice.
It was hot, there had been no rain for almost two months, and Samuel lay on his bed in his boxer shorts, cursing the heat, his faithful dog lying on the floor. He bent over the bed and looked at the dog. "You are the only one who loves me, what am I going to do?" The door opened and his mother came in with her hands on her hips shouted. "Get up you lazy good for nothing or I will call your father." With that tone of voice he knew he had better do as told or feel the wrath of another beating. "I am sorry Mama, I will not be late again." He jumped and again apologized.
Sammy hurriedly pulled on his denims and putting on a vest sweeter ran down the stairs, and into the kitchen. His father was sitting at the large wooden table reading the paper. He looked up and in a tone not heard before told him.
"Sammy I want you to go into town and by the weekly provisions."
Sammy surprised at his request could not believe the old man had finally decided to trust him to leave the farm.
"Dad of course I will, when do you want me to leave?" Excited he replied.
"Now, here is the money and list, make sure you return with everything on the list or don’t bother coming back," Jackson told him in his cantankerous voice.
"Of course, I will do this and make you proud of me," he said still feeling joyful at the prospect of being able to leave the farmhouse for a short time.
"Proud of you," the old man looked at him with frown on his face and laughed.
Sammy disappointed with his father for not acknowledging him as a good son, walked towards the front door ready to leave. His sisters Jessie and Joanne were sitting on the porch painting their nails, laughing. As he past them, they jeered at him and said, "So you think you are a big shot now because he is letting you go into town." He looked back at them and wanted to swear at them, decided not to and carried on walking towards the old truck. How I hate them, he thought.
He got into the truck, put his hand inside his denim pants, and pulled out a piece of paper. Sitting down ready to start up the truck he looked at the note and said to himself.
"My suicide note, well perhaps I should put this plan on hold for awhile, the old man actually gave me something good to do." He put the note back into his pocket. Whistling to himself, he started the truck and drove down the old sand road.
At the end of the sand road, he turned left into the tar road and merrily continued driving into town. Arriving in town he parked the truck and took out the list his dad gave him and started buying all the provisions needed. After about one hour, Sammy checked he bought everything was feeling rather proud with himself for completing the task, he got back into the truck and started his journey back home. He was happy he had managed to complete the shopping.
Whistling to himself and driving at a steady pace he continued, and then without any indication he did not see the large truck coming down the road at a speed that looked frightening, he swerved off the road trying to avoid the truck and his vehicle overturned.
Sammy woke up looking at the ceiling, the bright lights and then he felt the tube down his nose.
"Where am I?" he thought. He tried to lift himself up but felt too much pain, he cried.
A nurse came in and tried to calm him down.
"Sammy, it is good that you are awake," she said wiping his brow.
He tried to talk but found it rather difficult. She explained that he had been in an accident and nearly died. He continued to cry. She left him and within minutes, his family came into the room.
He turned his head and saw him mother crying softly, he noticed his dad had more grey hair and his face filled with sadness. His sisters were red eyed from all the crying and wiping their tears held his hand.
"Son, we are so sorry, I never knew that you had such lonely depressed thoughts towards us. I am truly sorry I never gave you all the love and guidance you wanted." His mother continued to cry.
He tried to look at his father and with his words stammering he managed to say.
"Dad I love you and mom." He closed his eyes, feeling the pain rip through his body, heard his sisters shout, "Nurse call the doctor something is wrong."
"Sammy, can you please forgive us, come back don’t die, we love you and need you." His mother held his hand, and softly said.
Sammy lay there listening to his family and unable to speak he felt for the first time in his short life loved and dozed off.
The doctor came in and told the family members to leave; they waited outside while the doctor and the nurse tried to revive him. After a long enduring hour, they stabilized him. He opened his eyes and saw the doctor leave. Lying there, he tried to remember the accident, he felt afraid as in his mind he saw the truck but could not remember anything else.
His dad came in alone and pulled out a chair sat down, he took his hand and stroking it gently said.
"Sammy, we found your suicide note, it was such a shock to find out that you were contemplating killing yourself. Then the accident, we nearly lost you."
Sammy opened his eyes slightly and turned to face his father, he opened his mouth but no words came out. He held onto his father's hand tightly.
"Sammy, don’t give up, we want you to live, I promise you, and I will be a better father and always look after you." He said in a sad voice looking at his son and a tear falling down his face. He cried as he sat there with his son.
For the next month, every day two to three times his family would come to the hospital to visit him, he was feeling much better and the doctor had told him he could go home in a week's time. He loved his sisters they would read to him and make him laugh although it still hurt, his ribs not fully healed and the laughing hurt. His mother and father were so gentle and understanding, spoiling him giving him such a lot of love. He was happy.
The nurse helped him dress, and with his broken leg walked with him wobbling along the corridor on his crutches he managed to walk down the corridor and in a distance saw his dad. He briskly walked towards him and held him firmly, helping him. Guided him to the car they drove home, He told his dad how sorry he was and was told to be quite apologies were not necessary all that mattered was that he was well and back with them.
When they arrived at the farmhouse, he saw his mother and sisters waiting on the porch. Jock his Labrador dog, barking with excitement on his arrival, ran towards him. After helping him from the car, his dad guided him, helping him climb the stairs one at a time. His mother crying for joy hugged him, followed by his sisters they went inside to the kitchen. He looked at the table all decorated with his mother's best linen, and her precious cutlery and crockery, sat down. Joanne his sister went to the old coal stove collected the pots and placed them on the table His mother cooked a most amazing meal, leg of lamb, road potatoes with all the wonderful, trimming. She served him first and as soon as they were all seated his father poured him a glass of wine. His father raised his glass and said.
"A toast," they raised their glasses.
"Sammy, welcome home, we are grateful for another chance to be together as a family, and this is a toast to say a family united we will always remain." The glasses clinked and they all laughed a hearty laugh. Sammy feeling the love and unity amongst his family, he was home and happy.