I didn’t win the short-story contest I entered but I’m still marking the experience in the ‘win’ category because I put myself out there in the serious world of writing – as an author – by having submitted an entry in the first place. I threw this little piece together in a week after I got a wild hair from my writing group who all jumped on the bandwagon and submitted entries. I figure why waste the effort and not let everyone who cares to read it get the chance? So, without further ado, for your reading enjoyment…
Beep-beep… Beep-beep… The sterile sounds of the many machines trapping you here like a prisoner go on incessantly. Tubes drain a putrid looking fluid from your chest while others down your throat are breathing for you. How surreal the past days have been, culminating with you lying there, pasty white and barely breathing, and me sitting here in this plastic chair wishing you would wake up so I can tell you how unbelievably unfair it all is.
For hours I sat in the waiting room while they worked on you, time marching so slowly I wondered if it had stopped, thinking of all the things still unsaid between us, praying to a God I don’t believe in that we get more time to say them. Fifteen years, you would think we’d had time to say and do it all but I’m selfish and I want more. My thoughts are haunted by the irony of all the hours of comfortable silence we’ve spent together, unaware any moment might be our last. I refuse to consider sitting on the couch, you watching a ball game while I read a book, could be the way we spent our last waking moments together. All those years we let fly by and we never discussed or planned what we would do if either of us ever found ourselves here.
What a trick fate has played on me. I’m the one with the bad gene pool, the one with the poor cardiovascular health who needs to lose a few pounds. You are the active one who plays basketball twice a week and rides your mountain bike every chance you get. So why are you lying there with a split sternum under what will be one nasty scar instead of me? And will you even be around later to tell the story of how you got it?
The thought of never hearing your voice again suddenly grips my chest. What I need right now is to see your eyes open and alert and hear you speak. I’d even settle for one of the inappropriate jokes you’re always telling at the wrong time at parties. Something to distract me from all the potentially life ending decisions I might be forced to make soon if you don’t wake up.
The endless tears stream silently down my face and I grip your hand in mine. I try to picture your hazel eyes staring out from someone else’s face, your heart beating in someone else’s chest. I know you well enough that, although we haven’t discussed donation, it is what you would want. Yet I can’t bring myself to even think of pushing the button that turns off the machines, let alone actually doing it. I pull the plug and you never wake up? No, unacceptable!
Instead, I keep the entire world shut out of this room and plant a seed of hope amid all the shock and horror. I know some think I’m in denial. I can hear them all whispering outside the door – the door I won’t let them enter. I prefer to think I’m forcing my will on the Universe. Either way, I will sit here – just you and me – watching and waiting until you wake up, my love. Because somehow I know you will and because I cannot go on alone if you don’t.
A detached part of myself wonders what you would be doing if it were me lying there instead of you. And if it were me clinging to life, what would I want you to do?