The short, ragged breathing was barely above a whisper as his chest rose but two inches as he struggled to pull in the precious air that kept him alive.
“Julia…my child,” he reached out a weathered hand as his daughter approached him. James Cottonfield was a man full of age as he endured his hour of departure.
“Yes, father,” she said coming closer to his cot. His hand was like metal left out to the winter elements.
“I want…you to know something,” he clung to life with an iron grip as Julia listened obediently. “You know that…I served in her majesties’ army.”
“Yes, I know about the years spent in the army as part of the Flying Menace. Mother spoke of them to me when I was younger.”
“What she hasn’t told you…is that…your brother also served as well.”
Silence overtook Julia, she was thirty-two years old and this was the first time she had ever heard anyone mention she had siblings. Her mother had been open with Julia on many subjects, but talk of her brother had never been a part of her speech.
“His name…is Everett Blake.” He began coughing roughly and Julia propped his head up with another pillow. His hour of departure drawing to a close.
With confusion raking her mind and the questions flooding her thoughts, she knew that there was only a few minutes before her father would leave her on his departure. Her voice trembled as she asked the question burning in her mind, “Where can I find him?”
The corners of his mouth crept up as a small smile took form, “My daughter,…” the pauses in his speech were dragging out more as the minutes ticked by. “Look to my friend, High Fly. He will tell you…what you seek.”
Julia was overcome with the grief at seeing her father at the moment of his departure, she had secretly hoped that the time would find her unavailable, yet, she was the only one that came. Her mother departed years ago while she was away at school leaving Julia to bear this burden alone.
With his last remaining strength, he raised his hand and cupped his daughter’s tear streaked cheek, “I leave you now,…but know that my love…for you is greater now… than it ever has been. I love you.” With the light fading in his eyes, Julia said goodbye to her father, “Goodbye. May you have a blessed journey.”
The hour of departure was fulfilled as James Cottonfield left the world behind. The tears of Julia fell onto the tile floor until none remained. Life seemed extremely isolating for her now as she exited the room in hopes of finding comfort.