Flaherty's Crossing - Chapter One: The Journey Begins...

Flaherty's Crossing - Chapter One: The Journey Begins...

A Story by Kaylin McFarren

Debut Novel - Flaherty's Crossing: An estranged father’s dying confession opens a vault of dark family secrets.


DebutThe last grain of sand was about to drop in her father’s invisible hourglass and there was nothing Kate Flaherty could do to stop it. The realization launched a shudder up her spine.

She’d known this day was inevitable. Yet it still came as a shock when she’d learned only hours ago that his final days had arrived. She should have come back sooner.

No--it was his fault, not hers. She’d had every right to stay away after discovering the truth. So why did she feel remorse encroaching on her anger, his gurgling breaths draining strength from her limbs?

In his curtain-drawn bedroom, she perched on the edge of the mattress, a few inches away from what had become a mere sketch of a man. The lamp’s amber glow cast shadows across his features, accentuating how much he’d deteriorated in just under a month.

Surgery, chemo, radiation therapy. For two years, she’d watched his heavyset frame shrink with every trip to the hospital, his sixty-three year old body blast through a time warp. But never ravaged to this extent. She barely recognized the sheeted man beside her. Mussed strands of thin, ghost-white hair, matching jagged mustache, and stubbly chin were all that remained of the father she knew. He was more of a stranger than ever before.

Slowly, he lifted his eyelids and turned his face. When their gazes met, a spark of recognition flickered. “You’re here,” he rasped as he reached for her hand.

She accepted reluctantly. His palm was cold and clammy, his skin sallow and tissue-thin. She swallowed hard, wanting to pull away, but the child in her resisted, the part of her that had never stopped longing for his affection.

“Where’ve you been?” He inhaled a labored breath. “I was waiting for ya.”

“I…” A lump of guilt formed in her throat, blocking any answer.

“Is the baby ready?”

She stared at him, shocked. His words made no sense. “What, Dad?”

“We gotta go. Don’t wanna hit traffic, Iris.”

Kate’s heart plummeted before she could remind herself of what he’d done. She slipped her hand away and clenched her fists, her nails biting into her palms. She tried to reignite the rage she was entitled to, but he appeared so defenseless, she summoned only the foreboding of imminent loss.

She leaned toward him. His gaze fixed on the ceiling. All she had to do was say good-bye, just as she’d done countless times throughout her youth. It would be a relief-- for both of them.

“Dad, it’s me, Katie.”

“Mmm. Smells so good.”

She sniffed automatically, half-expecting the aroma of her father’s favorite rosemary-garlic potatoes roasting in the kitchen down the hall. Instead, she inhaled only the nauseating odor of disinfectant, bodily fluids and medication. Her stomach reeled.

“Dad, can you hear me?”

“How long till supper, darlin’?”

The question caught her off guard. “Are you…hungry?”

“He can’t eat anymore, dear,” a woman reported from behind her. Kate turned toward the doorway where Doris Shaffer stood. The portly hospice nurse, her knotted hair as white as her smock, looked on with kind eyes.

When Doris’s comment sunk in, a wave of horror rolled over Kate. “What about his protein drinks?”

“He isn’t able to keep any food down, I’m afraid.”

As though cancer wasn’t bad enough. Now he was starving.

“You’re welcome to give him some ice chips. I’m sure he’d like that.” Doris pointed at the nightstand next to Kate. There, on the corner of the table, his thick-rimmed glasses rested beside the remote control for the small television he’d watched during her last series of visits--visits in which The Price is Right appeared more interesting than any conversation she had to offer. But then, after all these years, why had she expected anything different?

In the center of an aged doily sat a metal soup bowl dotted with condensation and filled with a mound of ice slivers. She glanced at the raw corners of her father’s mouth. Compassion guided her hand to retrieve the spoon poking out from the bowl.

“Lamb, corn, potatoes…” As he rambled off the menu, Kate pictured her apron-clad mother peeking into the window of the heated oven. But just as her mom had vanished from their lives, so did the image. “Think I’ll need a bigger belt,” he said and chuckled, a sound Kate hadn’t heard in years.

She placed a spoonful of melting ice on his tongue, and without taking her gaze off his face, she asked Doris in an even tone, “Isn’t there anything else you can do for him?”

“At this stage, we’re just trying to keep him comfortable.”

At this stage. Such finality in those words. Kate fought the tremble in her hand as she transported a second scoop toward his mouth, but a good portion landed on the crumpled sheet. Immediately, she set down the spoon and brushed the ice off the bed in frantic sweeps.

She had to get this over with. “Dad, can you hear me?”

“The showerhead needs changing.” He’d begun to slur.


“Closet door needs oiling…” He trailed off in a gurgle.

“It’s the morphine,” Doris explained. “Sends him off on tangents that don’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Not always the case. Sometimes those tangents made all too much sense.

© 2013 Kaylin McFarren

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Oh Jess this left me hanging!I could 'see' the picture,the story flows nicely,So will there be more soon?I hope!

Posted 8 Years Ago

This is quite the amazing story you have going on here. I like this I thought it was wonderful, makes one think really!

Posted 8 Years Ago

Thats really good. I'd like to read more.
It leaves you wondering what she means about it all making to much sense.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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4 Reviews
Added on December 23, 2009
Last Updated on October 22, 2013
Tags: love, loss, forgiveness, faith, secrets, death, ghost, heart-warming, award-winning, drama


Kaylin McFarren
Kaylin McFarren

Troutdale, OR

Kaylin McFarren is a rare bird indeed. Not a migratory sort, she prefers to hug the West Coast and keep family within visiting range. Although she has virtually been around the world, she was born in .. more..


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