#JusJoJan 01/02/17 – When Time Stood Still #FlashFiction
When Time Stood Still
“It’s time,” she said, her voice faint and raspy.
I wouldn’t argue. She was right, of course. Always right. We’d spent so many years bickering when all it took was for me to just let her have her way. She always did in the end. Now, all I wanted was to have one more big fight with her. To see that spark in her eyes and that fire of her convictions. I squeezed her hand and stood up.
“I’ll be right back,” I whispered as I leaned down and kissed her forehead.
I walked down the cold, sterile corridor to the nurses’ station. The walls, the floor, even the ceiling looked so bright. I squinted as I leaned over the desk. The nurses buzzed around me. Had time slowed down or sped up? I felt like I was standing still in suspended animation while everything around me went on at full speed. Was this what loss felt like? One of the nurses finally noticed me.
“Are you okay, Mr. Jenkins?”
I slowly nodded my head. I wasn’t, but I came from a time where you don’t share that knowledge with strangers. “Annie’s ready,” I told her.
“I’ll be there in just a moment.”
I walked back down the hallway, still squinting from the brightness. I heard everything around me from the silver food trolley squeak, squeak, squeaking down the hall, to the beeping of machines, and the haggard breathing of the sick and dying. I didn’t feel privileged to be among the living.
I finally made it back to Annie’s room. She laid on the bed, her head propped up with pillows, and her auburn hair stuck to her face from too many hours of sweat and tears. She still had that angelic look that had attracted me to her so many decades before. I sat down beside her bed and held her hand again. I could see every bone and vein, like blue streams washing over driftwood. Her wedding band was so loose, one wrong move and it would fall away, roll off the bed and tumble to the floor. I couldn’t remove it though. She wouldn’t want that.
I tried to remind myself that we’d had a happy life together. College sweethearts who’d married shortly after graduation, a nice home in the suburbs, and two daughters who were now college graduates themselves. These were our retirement years. Years we should be traveling instead of sitting in a hospital, but here we were instead. Cancer had robbed us of our dreams.
I knew Annie wanted to hold on until Katie and Susanne arrived, but the pain was too much too endure. The nurse came in and injected morphine into her IV. It was just a matter of time now, minutes perhaps. I felt Annie’s hand relax, but her breathing was still shallow. I leaned over and kissed her parched lips. She smiled at me and closed her eyes. The wrinkles of pain left her face.
“Go on, love,” I whispered to her. “No need to stick around here now.”
She inhaled deeply, a gurgling breath. I inhaled also, holding my breath until she exhaled again. It never came. I exhaled as tears streamed down my cheeks.
“Farewell, my angel,” I choked.
I slipped her wedding ring off of her finger and crossed her hands over her chest. Time stood still again as the doctor and nurse raced around the room. I recalled our first date, how her hair blew in the breeze of that spring afternoon in the park, how her eyes had danced with pure joy and how in awe of her I was. That’s how I would remember her, not this lifeless, brittle woman on that hospital bed.
©2017 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.
for Just Jot It January – Prompt: ‘Time’ – Hosted by Linda G. Hill
Today’s prompt is brought to you by JoAnna, from her blog “Anything is Possible“