The Constant Sidelines | The Making of Mark King

The Constant Sidelines

It was still dark out when Mark’s alarm went off. Today was the day, he was going back home. It had been years since he had left and never looked back, his sister had called him the previous week to confirm his plans but the conversation was cut short by the cries of her young twins.

It would take Mark a few hours to reach his destination, he’d organised a playlist and picked out a place to stop for a rest and bite to eat on his way, he thought that by over organising his trip it would help to distract his mind but that wasn’t the case.

As he drove along the road he replayed the nightmares he’d had every night since his sister first called to tell him he had to return home. They all were the same, it was a dark and rainy night, he was in the car, there’s a flash of light and rumble of thunder followed by the screeching of a tire and then everything goes dark.

He was at the truck stop quicker than expected, settling down on one of the benches he ordered himself a coffee and burger, as he pulled out his phone. He quickly typed out a text letting his sister know he would be with her within the hour. Mark looked around, he’d visited this place with his parents a lot as a child, but it all stopped that fateful night. He’d been returning home from GeekCon when they stopped for dinner, his sister Siobhan was older than him and had chosen to stay at home with her friends. As the family had pulled out a truck came out of nowhere and hit into the side of them. Mark was the only survivor.

Pulling into the car park Mark inhaled deeply, he knew this was going to be difficult. He walked through the corridors and entered a waiting room where his sister, her husband and her twins were sitting.

“Nice of you to make an appearance,” Siobhan snapped.

“Yeah, traffic was a bit of a nightmare,” Mark stuttered in return.

Scoffing Siobhan replied, “I’m sure it was.”

Siobhan had spent her entire life angry at Mark, she blamed him for their parents death and Mark had carried that guilt with him his entire life. It had been the main catalyst of him leaving to start over again.

Before he could response the door to the waiting room swung open and a doctor stood there, “it’s time,” he said solemnly.

The two followed him through the corridors and into a private room, laying in the bed was the frailest sim Mark had ever seen. He moved closer to the bed and barely recognised the woman. “Gran…?” he said softly.

She fluttered her eyelids and they dropped again. “I’m afraid she doesn’t have much time left,” the doctor said, “I’ll give you some privacy.”

A few moments later it was clear she was gone. Mark and Siobhan looked at each other, it felt like they were kids again standing at the door of their grandparents house, both dressed in black, hand in hand and unsure of what lay ahead of them.

Their grandparents had looked after them lovingly and made sure they never wanted for anything. Mark began to sob.

“Siobhan, I’m so sorry maybe if I’d never wanted to go to that con mum and dad would still be here.”

Siobhan took in a sharp breath, “no Mark, I’m sorry. I should never have blamed you, I was a stupid kid. I didn’t understand. But where have you been? You knew she was sick, why weren’t you here?”

Mark turned to look at his sister, “I couldn’t bare to lose someone else, I didn’t want to see her like this.”

The two reached out for each other and stood in a long hug and Mark felt a strange sensation of both grief and relief.

Siobhan pulled away first and looked Mark straight in the eye and said “we can do this, together.”

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