This is a project I had to do for my English class. I really liked it so I thought I would post it on here.
Disclaimer: I do not own To Kill A Mocking Bird
Atticus was getting feeble. His body was beginning to crumble under his age. By now, his sight had completely depleted in his left eye and he was forced to squint his right even through the help his glasses gave him. Atticus's body shook just slightly but constantly and it frightened me. He was breathing death's air as his own, and Jem and I didn't like it.
The worn floors creaked beneath my feet as I left my husband behind me. I wanted to do this on my own, with only Jem by my side. Both of us stopped outside the shut door, the house creaked momentarily under the strain of its own age. I sighed weakly and wished that I was only having a nightmare. I slid my eyes back open, revealing that it was, in fact, reality. Jem had at sometime slipped his hand into mine and I felt the comfort that he had acquired from Atticus. I took in a deep breath and pushed the door open. The hinges cried out with the strain, a creek that somehow had made the situation all the more real.
Both Jem and I stepped silently in to the sterile room, careful not to awaken Atticus who was slumbering on his bed. Stained white sheets had been draped over his body and tucked neatly under his arms. The side table that in the past had been lined with stacks of books had numerous medicine bottles in place of the literature. The stale stench leaked from the bottles by his side and I scrunched my nose secretively. Jem caught the gesture and sent me a tight lipped glance.
I slowly released my clammy palm from Jem's and stepped towards Atticus. I sunk into a vacant seat placed close to the bed slowly; I never let my worried gaze falter from Atticus. My hand grasped to his –I almost retracted when I felt the chill of his body- and I squeezed it lightly, beckoning Atticus out of his slumber. Whilst Atticus stirred, Jem fell into the seat on the opposite side of the bed.
Atticus's lids slid open to unveil his gloomy, drooping eyes. First he looked at me, and then over to Jem, a small almost non-existent smile graced his cracked lips. "Jem…Scout," He called faintly with a raspy voice. I smiled at him and pushed down the lump gathering in my throat.
"Hey, Atticus, how're you feelin'?" I drawled and kept the volume in my voice lower, just for his sake.
Atticus weakly squeezed my hand, and I felt just how shaky he actually was. "I'm doing just fine, Scout. Won't be much longer now." He grumbled in response whilst patting his free hand against the bed lightly. He was anxious.
Jem sat forward in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees. "Atticus," Jem started. From across the bed I saw the unshed tears glistening like stars in his eyes.
"Please, Jem, it'll be alright." Atticus said softly, stopping Jem from further speaking.
"Atticus," I called. Atticus turned his eyes over to mine the glassiness of them never quite finding me. "Do ya' want anythin', I can call-"
"No, Scout, I'm really fine." He interrupted quietly and pulled me back down to my seat. Or rather tugged once –weakly- at my arm, implying he would have me sit down.
Again, Atticus had turned his eyes back to Jem -straining to see him over the bridge of his own nose- who had by now composed himself. "So, Son, how did your game go?"
The sudden change in topic had pulled a rug free from right beneath me and left me in a dizzy confusion. Jem instantaneously perked up only for him to deflate back into his chair. "You mean the Baptist an' Methodist one?" Atticus nodded once. "Oh, well, the Baptists' won." Jem answered remorsefully, only because of his siding with the Methodist's. However, the next thing he had done was a rarity by that point; something I hadn't seen him do in well over three months. He glanced down at his left arm. It was only a small, quick, glance but both Atticus and I caught it. Jem caught it too and fumbled for a recovery. "It's not a big deal though. I could pass and punt, which wasn't bad at all. And I'm definitely not complainin'. It only got jostled."
To any other man it would have sounded perfectly fine, but not to Atticus. Both Atticus and I could decode Jem's language. His arm may have been jostled, but it caused a lot more pain than a usual hit. His left arm had always been more sensitive, ever since its break.
Atticus's face obviously dropped, which caused mine to soon follow after. "I still feel regret for what happened that night." He wheezed before a small fit of coughs racked his aged body. Atticus wheezed for seconds more after the fit before he continued speaking. "I don't regret taking Tom Robinson's case, but I do regret the consequences you both had to live through."
He was speaking of that summer that seemed to blur into the school year. The one that had been filled with the trial and nasty things aimed towards our usually quite family. Maycomb County seemed tense that summer, nothing like the usual sleepy town it once had been. The stakes had been set high; people were on opposite sides of the argument. Being a Negro dug Tom Robinson's grave. No matter the crime, how many testified for him, how much evidence was pointing away from him, no one would believe his plea for 'Not-guilty'. And Atticus had been crucified for being one of the only white men that believed Tom Robinson and not Bob Ewell. Atticus seemed to be the only one with common sense that summer. The only one who had an open mind to except the evidence that clearly showed Tom Robinson did in fact not rape Mayella Ewell.
"The Ewell's started it, Atticus." I growled in my remembrance of that all-in-all dreadful summer. The only thing that came out of that summer was Tom Robinson shot numerous times-through an' through. Mr. Ewell, drunken with a knife and his plan of revenge, only to turn up dead. However, that past summer brought Boo Radley from the safety of his own home and out into the open.
Jem shuffled in his seat which caught my eye. "I don't find that right, Scout." He corrected, a finger stretched out towards me. "I think it all started the summer we first met Dill. When you were five -or were you four?"
I snorted-something Aunt Alexandra once told me is quite un-lady like. "Well, Jem, if we wanna be vague here, how 'bout we just say it began with Andrew Jackson. Seein' if he hadn't run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch wouldn't have paddled up the Alabama." I said and sat back in my seat, satisfied with my argument. "And where would we be if he hadn't?"
Jem rolled his chocolate eyes over in his skull, which made my fists involuntarily ball. "Well what do you think, Atticus?" I questioned, resorting to his many years of wisdom to solve the issue, instead of my fists.
Atticus chuckled breathlessly, but it turned sour as soon as it transformed into small coughs. "I think both of you are right, but it doesn't help me regretting that I didn't keep you safer." Atticus answered in a small whisper; his breath slowly began to shallow after. Atticus's eyes drooped ever lower and nearly covered the brown of his eyes. He had to be minutes from death.
I clutched to his hand as if it would keep the life within it. The previous argument between Jem and I was forgotten instantly. Tears had begun to blur my vision, and it took pure will to keep them from falling. The lump had found its way back to the top of my throat. It restricted my breathing and made it unsteady. Dr. Reynolds had informed me before I stepped into the room of Atticus's condition. Somehow it still managed to provoke tears.
"I love both of you." Atticus's lips moved, but the words came out as just a silent breath.
Jem lent his body forward, getting closer to Atticus who was dropping in temperature by the second. "Atticus, would you like to hear a story?" I asked, holding back a sob when I watched his eyes slide completely closed.
Atticus cracked his eyes back open and stared droopily at me. "Why?" He questioned, his voice sounded like gravel.
"You read me bedtime stories once. It's only fair that the favor is returned." He nodded slowly and I could tell he was straining to stay awake. I shot Jem a knowing glance and he nodded with tears that still lined his eyes. I cleared my throat quietly. "Once there was a boy and his younger sister..." I caught the subtle smile that tugged at Atticus's lips.
Jem picked up the next line. "Now, they weren't always the most obedient to their father. In fact, our story begins with the boy protestin' up in his tree house against his father…"
I immediately took the next. "But, through three summers, the perspective of their father changed."
"They watched as he taught them life lessons through their young lives. Rebellious they were, beginnin' with a ludicrous game they made from their own minds. A game that was the definition of prejudice…"
We had dragged on like that, Jem and I going back and forth-telling all of our secrets from those summers past (Jem even admitting to exactly why his pants had gone missing). Atticus's eyes drooped lower with each word we said until they were closed peacefully. Both Jem and I continued however because he was only asleep. Only when I felt his grip on my palm relax and his arm go slack did I slowly trail off from my words. "He taught me that not all people are as they seem. He taught me that I need to crawl around in someone's skin before making accusations." My throat constricted as I stood. I gazed down at Atticus whose body was lifeless, face free of any color. A single tear slipped down my flustered cheeks and I quickly swatted it away. With a small peck to his ice-cold forehead I whispered my goodbye. "I love you, Atticus."
For most, the fact that I called him by name my whole life may sound disrespectful. But it was anything but, even on his deathbed. After the fourteen years from when I was eight, I finally realized why Jem had called him that. It was the respect we had for him that pushed us to call him that. And seeing how it is the only thing he has heard us say to him, it seemed only right to call him it one last time.
I watched with another tear sliding down my cheek as Jem –who was now standing- fell back into his seat. I never saw him cry harder in my life and I never saw him cry that hard again. So, I left him with his pride and left the room with a quick swipe of my sleeve to my cheeks.
"Now, here are my rules for owning a gun…" Jem's voice was faint from the porch where I sat, swinging on the porch swing, my husband by my side. Jem's wife watched with a cautious eye as her husband handed a small air riffle over to his oldest and only son.
The wind ran its long fingers through the small boy's shaggy hair. A ten-year-old, so much like one I used to know took the riffle gleefully. He bounced on his heels as he listened to Jem explain the rules of using a gun. "Now, I want you to only shoot at bottles…" Jem began and he knelt down to the boy's height. Somehow the conversation Jem was having felt oddly familiar. "But I know you'll go after the birds soon enough. So this's my deal. You can shoot any bird ya' please, but remember it's a sin to kill a Mockingbird." I had nearly choked on my iced tea I had only barely taken a sip of. I was thrown into a fit of coughs. Jem's wife and my own husband continually questioned my heath as I coughed uncontrollably. I only waved them off and strained my ears to hear the conversation again.
"Why is it a sin to kill a Mockingbird?" Jem's son questioned and his face fell for a split second.
Jem took his son by the shoulders, looked him dead in the eye and replied: "Because, Mockingbirds do no one any harm. All they do is sing to us and make beautiful music…they sing their hearts out to us. And that is why it's a sin to kill a Mockingbird…"
This was the epitome of how much Atticus impacted our lives.