The waiter laid the coffee and sandwich down on the table, before scuttling off to serve another customer. The cafe was quiet, with only a few people around in contrast to the busy street crowded with shoppers outside.
He lowered the newspapers that covered his face. "You're in the headlines."
She smiled from across the café table, "I know."
He laid down the papers. The words 'cure for Influenza 56 found at last' were written in big, bold letters.
"Vaccine huh," her older brother said. "Since when did you get so smart?"
She just smiled and said nothing, slowly sipping the coffee.
She spoke her thoughts aloud, "If only it hadn't taken him then…". He heard what she said, and diverted his eyes. She gazed at him understandably.
She had grown much from that six year old girl in flowery dresses and pigtails. She could not understand it then, but it had occurred to her that something was not right. It had something to do with daddy going away, but she did not really know that it meant his death.
She remembered how her mother and brother had been so hysterical that day; they had frightened her. But still, she was ignorant.
It was not until a year of foolishly believing that her father went away for a business trip later, did she begin to think that it was more than that. She remembered how she had constantly probed and questioned her mother and brother about her father and having no answer from them. Then one day, her brother had burst out into tears as he told her the truth: "He's gone, he's dead you moron! Influenza 56 took him!"
Upon turning the age of eight, she had already resolved to find a cure for this fatal disease.
Many years had passed since his death, and the measures to curb infection had lowered the number of cases, but still, so many people were dying of it. She worked in the laboratory, going for nights without sleeping whenever she thought she was close to finding the answer. He brother often mocked her after her many failed attempts. His father's death had scarred him badly; it made him more pessimistic.
"How's the divorce case going?" She asked. He sighed, tapping his fingers across the table.
"Sometimes I just wish people would learn to live happily as a family," he mumbled, "all these depressing cases of divorce make me depressed. What's worse, they don't think of their kids at all. Being a lawyer sucks."
She remained silent for a moment before she spoke, "We didn't exactly grow up with two parents."
"You didn't," he said, "I did. And that was what made it so painful."
She watched him bite off his sandwich and chew unhappily. She shook her head and looked at the words written across the papers again.
Yes, if only it hadn't taken him so early, she could have saved him. The greatest regret she had in her life was the fact that she was six when her father died. She could have cured him.
"Do you think he's in heaven?" She asked.
Her brother shrugged, pretending to be nonchalant about it. "If there even is one."
"He's the greatest father on earth, I don't see why he couldn't—"
"He left us." Her brother said curtly. "Abandoned us."
"He didn't have a choice."
"He had a choice whether or not he wanted to serve in that faculty." His voice was slightly raised, and a curious waiter turned his head to glance at them.
"And his choice was noble." She reasoned, "He did it to save lives. Stop being childish, you know this is true."
He looked at her in the eyes, "I know. I've gotten over it, but is there anything wrong with being selfish for a father?"
She shook her head, reaching out to touch his hand. "No."
"I just wish," he said, "that the cure had come sooner."
She gazed at him. Strangely, finding a vaccine for the disease had not made her any happier. Her father was gone and never to come back, no matter what she did.
"He's in heaven." She said confidently, leaning back in her seat and closing her eyes. She pictured her father's face in her mind.
I know he is.
Hi. I hoped you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Constructive critism will be highly appreciated.
To those reading Of Love and Death and waiting for the update, I'm sorry for taking forever and writing a one-shot instead. I'm signing up for a literature cum writing programme/seminary so I need to submit a portfolio of short stories and hence I'm writing one-shots more of late. Please be patient!! (And this is also the reason why I need critism for this piece.)