Made by Squid Larry
-Part 1- Edit
“Welp, time to close up shop,” Papa said. It had been a long day, and it didn't seem like any more customers would be coming to his 7-11. “Now I can get back to my apartment, sit down with my root beer and watch my shows”. By “His Shows”, he obviously means “How To Decorate Your House That’s Been Haunted For The Last 50 Years”. That had been his routine ever since he left the other Acachallas so long ago. He told himself it was better. He told himself that he shouldn't go back. After all, the 7-11 was having good business, and the kids could fend for their own now that they were all grown up. Though, he never really believed it when he told himself that.
He missed them.
Papa was just about to lock up the cash register when a beat up old van slowly pulled up into the parking lot. “Wha-?” He exclaimed, thinking no one would come here at this hour. “Fine, I’ll let this one in…” He grumbled to himself. He turned around to the back of his store and organized a bit while the customer walked through to the door. “Come on in.” Papa said forcefully. The door slowly closed, but Papa could hear that the customer wasn't walking around. Papa kept working, back turned, but he could tell the customer was just standing there. He stopped for a moment, confused and slightly angered. The tempered man he was, he was thinking that this customer was no good. Without turning around, he spoke to the man sternly. “HEY! You gonna buy somethin’ or are you gonna just loaf around?” The man walked in a bit, and started to talk, but stuttered. “Pa…” The man strained out. Papa sighed and turned around “Look, if you're not lookin’ to buy anyth-“ He stopped cold. He couldn't believe it. Then the man spoke. It was with such a sad voice, yet relieved and happy at the same time. “…Papa?” The man said, bringing a familiar voice to Papa’s ears. Papa closed his eyes and smiled weakly.
Papa sighed and looked up at Billy, still smiling slightly. Billy smiled sadly back at him. There was a silence for a moment, then Papa spoke up. “I... I didn't know you were coming…” He said. “Yeah, I sorta forget to call first…” Billy laughed a bit to himself and smiled. “But that doesn't matter, does it?” Billy said. “The reason I came is what matters.” “ No, no, wait," Papa butted in, "First, tell me how the family is going. How’s Sally?” he said, smiling. Billy took a deep breath in and looked down at his feet. He waited a moment, and then looked back up sadly. “Well…” He said hesitantly, “That’s sorta why I’m here.”. Papa’s smile dropped. He sighed, looking down at the floor, then up to the ceiling. He silently mouthed a few words, then closed his eyes and looked back down at Billy. He breathed heavy and ran his hand through his hair (or the lack thereof). After a moment, he relaxed. “Well then. What’s going on?” Papa asked. “I can explain on the way.” Billy said sadly, motioning for Papa to follow him into the van.
Papa and Billy got into the van and started to drive off. Even though Billy had said he would explain, it was all quiet between them. It seemed like they both knew what was going on. Sally needed help, and that’s all Papa needed to know. Even so, Papa was drawn to ask. “So… What’s happening with Sally?” Papa said, almost cautiously. Billy took in a deep breath before talking. “Well, we don’t really know… She’s in the hospital now, and from the way the doctors are acting, I... I don’t think she has much of a chance.” Billy said solemnly. There was a long pause between them. ”Who’s there with her now?” Papa asked, breaking the silence. “Well, I was there up until I left for you. Sue visited, and so did Johnny Toast. He said Johnny Ghost would have come, but that he was too busy investigating a case. Something about Jimmy Casket…” Billy said, sighing at the end. “Spencer and Maddie-Friend came too…” Billy continued. “Oh, did you have any trouble with Maddie?” Papa jested. “No, no… She… She wasn't after me… She came to see Sally. She was pretty much quiet the whole time…” He said slowly. There was another pause between the two. Papa spoke up. “Was... Is Gertrude there?.”. Billy took a quick glance at Papa, then back to the road. He was slightly shocked Papa would ask that, but he still understood. “Yeah, she was there when I left. I don’t know if she still is there, though…” Billy paused for a moment, then continued. “You… know she’s not… not…” Billy said, before being interrupted by Papa. “I know, I know, you don’t need to tell me!” Papa snapped, startling Billy. Billy looked back at the road and straightened his posture, saddened and put down by his Papa’s near-rebuke response. Papa exhaled deeply through his nose and slumped over onto the car door. He looked over at the sunset through the window. It was such a beautiful sunset, crimson and purple and quiet.
But it was wasted on such a day like today.
It was clear into the night by the time they both arrived at the hospital. They got out of the van quietly and walked in. While Billy was talking to the attendant at the table about letting them in, Papa was sitting on one of the chairs in the lobby and thinking. “This… this changes everything.” He thought. “I was going to just live my life in that 7-11, never looking back. Now.. now I’m forced to look back... I've never really asked myself if I did the right thing when I left them…”. Papa knew that he would have to finally face the decisions he made so long ago. Billy finished up and motioned Papa to follow him into the elevator. After a few rather odd stops, they both got off and walked towards Sally’s room. Walking in, they could see all of the medical equipment spread throughout the room. The cold, metal machines with green lights flashing, lying all around systematically, seemingly trying to show that since there is still life, there is hope… when there might be none. A nurse saw them coming and respectfully stepped out. Billy and Papa stepped slowly towards the white hospital bed Sally was in. Papa was shocked upon first seeing her. He wasn't prepared for all the wires and patches and machines strapped to her body. She was pale and weak, looking as if she was just holding onto life, and painfully so. She seemed comatose, which was somehow a bit better for her. Papa was overwhelmed, but still approached Sally slowly. He stooped down to her bedside cautiously. He looked around at the bed, searching for cards and gifts left by the others who came, but there were almost none. Papa asked Billy about that, to which he replied, “No one cared about gifts… They knew it was more important just to come and see her...” Papa looked back at Sally and grabbed her hand. He slowly lowered his head. He was there for a long moment, not saying anything. He then stood up and straightened his back. After a moment, he walked out into the hallway. Billy followed him out soon after. After a moment of silence, Billy spoke up to Papa. “Would… Would you want to see the rest of the visitors here?” Billy said. Papa nodded his head, and they solemnly walked towards the guest room.
Billy and Papa stepped into the guest room and stopped to look around. There weren't many people in the room, so Papa could quickly identify everyone he knew. Spencer was in a corner by himself, quietly playing Dead or Alive V on his PSP. It was obvious he didn't care much about the game. He was only playing as a distraction from the heavy reality of the situation. Toast was sitting at a cluttered table, apparently working on some odd contraption for his P.I.E. job. Gertrude was talking to one of the nurses, back turned to the door. Billy said he needed to go get a drink, and left the room. Papa walked into the room more. Spencer noticed him and stood up. They walked towards each other and stopped. Papa started to talk, but Spencer interrupted him with a quick embrace. He said something that Papa couldn't catch (something about a Star Trek episode) and loosened his grip. Papa had never noticed how much Spencer had grown to be a part of the family until now. He gave Spencer a reassuring pat on the back and looked up. Over his shoulder, Papa could see Gertrude standing a bit away, arms crossed but not angry. She was looking at Papa defensively, but he could tell she was not accusing. He slowly walked over and looked into her eyes, trying to make a connection. She slowly and sadly turned her head down. Papa backed up a bit, not wanting to make Gertrude uncomfortable. "I... I just want to say I'm sorry. For all of this. I... I could have helped you... I should have stayed." Papa said. "But right now I think we should just be there for our daughter." He said, making a motion for eye contact between the two. But with that last sentence, Gertrude welled up with tears. She looked at Papa and started to talk, full of emotion. "You weren't there for us, were you?... You LEFT us... ABANDONED us! We LOVED you, and you just..." Gertrude looked down and paused for a moment, gathering herself before speaking again. "You have no right to call her your daughter." She said, looking at Papa for a moment and then looking down to her side. Papa took a step back and took a moment to take in what she had said, then breathed out heavily. There was a moment of silence across the room before Johnny Toast spoke up. "Uh...I had an idea... To... To help figure out what's going on with Sally. I think if I can use this device on her-" Toast was interrupted by an angry Papa. "I don't want you using any contraption on Sally!" Toast was silenced for a few moments, shocked. Gertrude spoke up hurriedly, saying "If it helps her, we should at least try it." Spencer then spoke up, "I've looked at his machine, it seems like it could work". This only made Papa angrier. "I don't care what anyone says, you are not going to endanger my daughter anymore." Papa retorted. There was a quick moment of silence before Gertrude spoke up. "She's not your daughter!" Gertrude yelled. "I just want what's best for her!" Papa shouted back. The whole room erupted into an argument. Just then, Billy walked into the room, Nuka Cola in hand. He looked around the room in shock as the fighting continued, and started to tear up. He slammed the soda bottle down and shouted. "STOP!". The room quickly grew quiet as Billy spoke, half in tears. "Just stop fighting, all of you! You shouldn't be so selfish! Sally is dying, and you all should be caring about her! Being there for her!" Billy stopped for a moment and started crying harder. Papa slowly approached him and tried to comfort him. "I... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have yelled... I was being selfish..." He said apologetically. Billy stood up quickly. "No... It's all my fault... I've spent my WHOLE LIFE trying to be a medic... Trying to help people... And now Sally is sick and I don't even know what's WRONG with her.." He said, tears running down his face. "I'm a failure." He said, completely defeated. Papa was shocked. He never knew Billy felt like that. After a moment, he walked up to him and grabbed his shoulders loosely. He stared right into Billy's eyes sympathetically. "Billy... I... I am so proud of you. You... You're my son, and I wouldn't want anything about you to change. I love you." He said to Billy. Billy looked up and smiled a sad smile at Papa, and hugged him, still in tears. They both stood there for a moment before a nurse came through the door. Papa turned to her slowly. "I... You need to come." She said, partially out of breath.
Papa's face dropped.
Acachalla straightened his posture and worriedly looked at the rest of the room, as if expecting them to be spurred into action by the nurse's words. When no motions were made, Papa headed for the doorway hurriedly. Billy followed shortly after, trying to catch up to Papa. By the time he caught up, Papa was already in Sally's room. He had halted at the door, gaping at the doctors and nurses surrounding Sally. He stood there as Billy neared him, and Billy too stood motionless. They could feel the tension as the doctors around her shouted for the addition or subtraction of medicines from her body. As Papa looked on, he slowly drowned out all of the rushed work of the doctors. He drowned out the noise of the machines all around Sally's bed. He drowned out the confused talk and the tears from his family behind him. He only cared about Sally now. He could see her clearly now, not caring about any selfish thoughts he had before. He saw here laying there as she truly was.
He knew what he had to do. In the silence of his focus, he took a step forward towards Sally. His steps were weighted, but direct. He walked closer and reached Sally's bedside. Slowly, he kneeled beside her. He saw her soft, pale skin, white in the lights of the hospital room. Papa teared up and smiled sadly as he grabbed her limp hand. Crying beside her, he could only faintly hear the sounds of the medical instruments. He could hear them... Slowing.
As it seemed that the sounds may slow to a stop soon, Papa ran his hand lovingly through Sally's hair. Imagining the end to be near, he said what he could. He mustered all of his strength and, spoke to her softly. "I love you, Sally. My Daughter..." Tears welled up in his eyes as he forced his last words out.
It's been almost a whole year since that day.
The mourning is over.
The crying has long stopped.
But the sadness stays in the back of the minds of everyone who knew Sally. Of course, it stays. But that's not a bad thing.
Her memory is kept. And, with the end of her story, a new story begins.
Billy opened the light screen door, prompting Papa to whip his head around to look at him. Papa sits, now smiling slightly, on the front porch of the new Acachalla household. The house was perfect, in the suburban definition of the word. Papa had looked for a house that met his needs: One that could fit the whole family (of course), one that would be quiet and in a stress-free part of town, and one where he could grow old in with Gertrude.
He loved to be able to think of that name fondly again. To be able to love everyone again. Finally.
He had missed them all so much.
Billy took a few more steps towards Papa and reclined next to him on the porch steps. Extending an arm, he handed Papa one of the two ice-cold root beers he had stepped out with. Papa grabbed it and opened it with a laugh. He let the cold mist flow out from the top of the bottle before taking a big swig from the drink. Billy sat right beside him, struggling to open the bottle. Papa didn't notice, and just stared off into a crimson sunset. "Hey, Billy?" he said, growing somewhat serious after some thought. Billy grunted and answered, "Yeah?", still trying to open the bottle. "Do you..." He paused. "Do you think I'm a good father?" he said suddenly. Billy stopped trying to open the bottle. He took a second, then looked straight at Papa. "I... Of course, I do. You've always loved us, and wanted to help us." Billy said, with a big, appreciative smile coming over his face. Papa laughed with surprise and happy embarrassment, but then looked down in sadness. "No... Not always.". Billy waited a sad second, but then spoke up. "..N-No!" Billy affirmed. "ALWAYS. You have ALWAYS cared for us. Even when you weren't there for us... I knew that deep down, you loved us through it all.". Papa looked up at Billy, starting to get emotional. Billy continued. "We all knew that. We never lost sight of that." He paused, then looked up slightly. "Especially Sally.". Papa was overwhelmed. He took a deep breath and wrapped his arm around Billy, hugging him from the side. He looked up at the sky. What a beautiful, purple sunset it was now. He hugged Billy tighter as he looked on, and Billy looked along with him. He missed Sally, that was for sure. He wished with all his heart that she would still be here. But what he has now, after what happened, is what he really needed. His life would be much, much darker without it.
He had a family again.
He had his family.
He closed his eyes peacefully, and felt the wind blowing slowly through the neighborhood. He smiled and shed a tear, thinking of his daughter, and everything he had.
"She would have loved this." He said to the sky.
And as he smiled slightly, he felt like he knew she was smiling back.