Well guess what... this one spoke volumes to me so I entered. Don't even care if I win. ( NOTE: It did win! I had this scheduled for Sunday but am changing that...just wanted to share!) I had to write it. The prompt was to write a story or poem based on the proverb "better to tell a lie that soothes than a truth that hurts". So, here is my entry (forgive the mistakes, they do!):
“Does this dress make my hips look wide?” Hannah's mother asked. Hannah rolled her eyes, blowing a bright pink bubble to avoid answering the question. “Hannah?”
“Yes, mom. It makes you look like you need a 'wide load' sign posted right above your rear.”
“Thanks for that,” her mom said. She shot her daughter a dirty look before disappearing into the changing room. “I don't understand why you can't just lie once in awhile. Why do you always have to tell the absolute truth?”
“I would rather be honest with someone then tell them something they want to hear,” Hannah said. She flipped quickly through the pages of the latest fashion magazine, curling her lip at the so-called styles.
“That is not a skill that will get you very far,” her mother chided her.
Hannah recalled that memory as she rode the elevator up to the fourth floor of the hospital. She had been 16 years old. Her mother's words still hung in the dark closet of her mind, even after all these years. Hannah sighed as the bell dinged and the doors slid open. She never did like hospitals. She didn't know if it was due to the smell or the idea that people were sequestered away in little rooms waiting to die or spreading disease. She could feel the germs creeping along her skin like malicious little sprites waiting for their chance to infect her.
Down the hall and fourth door on the left. That is where they had taken her mother. They wouldn't let Hannah see her after the accident. She would just get in the way. Now she had been stabilized and would only allow Hannah to see her for a few moments.
“Is she going to live?” Hannah had asked the doctor.
“She's lucky to have come this far. If we don't get the internal bleeding to stop, she may not make it. We're going to do everything we can for her, miss Lanford.”
Hannah stopped in the doorway, staring at all the tubes and lines connected to her mother. Her beautiful blonde hair that she had always insisted be styled before leaving the house now lay against her skull, dull and flat. If her mother got hold of a mirror...
Hannah had made a good life for herself, despite what she now called her best trait and worst flaw. She had lost a lot of friends over the years for being so honest. Most of the time, in public, she kept her mouth shut. But during working hours, she would let her honesty have full reign. She was probably one of the most hated critics at the newspaper. Her stacks of hate mail far outweighed her fan mail. But when she did get a nice letter, a gem in the pile of crap, the person always thanked her for her honesty. Her mother never did understand where it came from. When Hannah was little, she had always been told to, “be honest”. Hannah lived her life by the Golden Rule of treating others how she wanted to be treated. She certainly didn't want people to lie to her, so she took it to heart.
One of the monitors beeped as Hannah stood by her mother's bedside. As she looked down, her mother's eyes fluttered open. For a moment, she looked at Hannah, confusion furrowing her brow. After a moment, recognition flickered and her mother gave her a weak smile.
“There you are,” she said. She could barely speak and the oxygen mask muffled her words further.
“Don't try to talk, mom.” Hannah dropped her coat on the nearby chair, turning her face away so her mother couldn't see her pained expression. She had always known she would lose her mom someday, but not now. Not like this. She took a deep breath to compose herself before turning back to her mother. She need not worry, she had fallen back asleep. Hannah dragged the chair over to the bed and sat down.
It seemed like hours had passed when her mother opened her eyes again and turned to Hannah. Hannah smoothed back her mother's hair and tried to smile best she could.
“I look like hell,” her mother said.
“No,” Hannah shook her head. “You look fine. Really.”
“Don't patronize me, Hannah.” She paused, breathing in her oxygen. “Am I going to make it?”
Hannah chewed her lip a moment, a habit her mother recognized from when she had been a little girl. Hannah thought it over a moment, debating whether or not to tell the truth. Her mother studied her with serious eyes as Hannah struggled with the Honesty demon within.
“Yes, mom. You're going to be just fine. Doctor reassured me. You might even be out of here in a couple of days.”
Her mother regarded her for long moments.
“That is exactly... what I wanted to hear.” Her mother's eyes closed once more and her breathing became slow and even. Hannah stayed close, knowing in her heart it would be the last time she would see her mother and those may very well have been her last words.
It was a short time later when Hannah noticed her mother's chest had stopped rising and she had a peaceful look upon her face.