A chip… (alternative ending)

Son

This is a difficult letter to write.

Please do not speak to your mother or your brother of its contents.

I am writing to you because of the work that you did before the war.

You were working in a noble cause to find treatments for cancer.

You are now working in a more noble cause to save the lives of many of our brave soldiers.

I know that you are sometimes abused for not fighting, the common man cannot see that some must fight at home using their brains.

You will have guessed now the subject of this letter.

You were right to tell me to visit the doctor.

Your suspicions, although you did not speak of them, were right.

He referred me to have a photograph taken of my lungs.

There is a spot, a small spot.

I am advised that it will grow, with it’s growth my cough will pass from being a mild irritant to being painful and distressing.

The greatest distress will be for those around me who will see my body gradually shrivel, they will see the pain that I am in, they will see my weakness, I will become dependent for the most basic of human needs.

I will continue working for as long as possible.

I will hide away from your mother and brother for as long as I can.

The effects of the war give me enough cause to work long hours and to sleep in the office from time to time, I am thankful for the role that I have.

And now for the real purpose of my letter.

I asked my doctor if there was a way to prevent me becoming a burden, of preventing the distress that the erosion of my health will cause.

He said that his oath prevents him from acting, but he will overlook the act of another.

The terrible purpose of my letter is to ask you to be that other.

The doctor will send for you and give you the signal.

Destroy this letter, just wait for the doctor, your actions will be clear at the time.

For what you will do, you are forgiven.

Your father

34 years later…

Brother

I went home last weekend, father is ill, seriously ill.

You need to go home and visit.

This could be the last time you see him looking healthy.

Catherine

A week later…

Son

I need to ask you to do a terrible thing.

I am dying, I saw my father die a slow lingering death, he became ashamed of the burden he put on the family and he asked me to do a terrible thing.

I am on the same path and I must ask the same of you.

I asked the doctor to help me on my way, he didn’t reply, he just changed the subject and then left. I don’t want your mother to have to cope with me as a deteriorate. If I need help, please help me. For what you will do, you are forgiven.

Six months later…

Son

It is time…

The next day…

I arrived, father was in sitting in his favourite chair, he was in pain, he acknowledged me with a weak smile.

He told me he had called the doctor to get something to ease the pain.

That night he went to sleep, the doctor said that he may not wake.

I sat with him for several hours.

I got up to go to stretch and have a short walk around the garden.

As I left the room there was a low wet cackle, he was gone.

I was spared…

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