He'd felt numb for weeks
afterwards. At the funeral, at the medal ceremony, the first time he'd heard
the song; it was all a blur to him. He was still half way down a clock, staring
at a crumpled body on the floor.
He lay, with these thoughts running through his head, as the visitors looked on. The song outside seemed to be growing louder, as if more voices were joining in. Did they know the pain it caused him? He couldn't be proud of his actions that night. He should have been firmer with Juan when he knew time was running out. He should have held on tighter when Juan needed him to. He should have got down the clock quicker and bitten the cat harder.
It should have been him.
He had no wife and children to leave behind.
His thoughts turned to Cecilia, Juan's widow. He hadn't spoken to her since the funeral, when he had passed on Juan's final words and one or two personal belongings, then left quickly, feeling nothing. He couldn't face her and was sure that she would have no wish to see him again after all he had been responsible for. Why should she?
He breathed slowly, painfully, his whole body aching with the effort of drawing in breath. His time was near. No longer would he have to listen to the song. No more would he have to wonder what might have happened if he'd handled that night better. A single tear slipped down the greying fur on his cheek and he was still.
There was a hush among those gathered at the bedside as they recognised the passing of an incredible hero. Then one small figure stepped forward and gently wiped the tear from his fur, with a tiny red and white polka dot handkerchief. The group bowed their heads, alone with their own memories of the hero, as the words of the sung drifted around the room as a constant reminder of an extraordinary life lived to the full.
RIP Major Hickory Dickory-Dock.
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