Throwback Thursday – Waiting

Today’s #throwbackthursday is from a writing class back in 2005. Enjoy.


I pulled out my wallet and thumbed idly through it: twenty-four dollars in cash; a couple of maxed-out credit cards; a family snapshot; a picture of my wife and one each of my two daughters. I dug deeper: old insurance cards, a library card and a receipt from an Italian restaurant down the street. At the bottom was a photo, flipped over, with a message carefully written on the back…

All my love, Mary…

I turned it over. It was an old picture, mostly faded now, but the smile and the dark eyes were unmistakable. I rubbed by finger along the edge, roughened by age and a little bent from sitting in a wallet far too long. It felt a little disrespectful, pulling it out only now, but I held it tightly. After a time, I sat it carefully on the nightstand, propping it up against a small vase of flowers. It seemed to watch over her, fixing those steady dark eyes on her frail body, given volume by the blankets wrapped around her. I glanced down at my watch… it was almost time.]

I reached over and hit the red button. There was a gentle whir of the motor as the camera began to record. I took out the notepad from aside pocket and flipped it open to a page already half-filled with notes and began to write:

She seems to be resting peacefully now. A sort of calm before the storm she had warned me. Even the monitoring equipment is quiet. I have set up camera and lights and have started recording, not quite certain what to expect. She said there would be rattling and soft groan before it started, and later to keep my head bowed and my eyes closed, no matter what I heard, smelled or felt. She was rather particular on that last point, as if my life might depend on it. I really hadn’t given it any thought until now and it doesn’t give me much comfort.

I put the pen down and stood up. I thought about getting a cold drink from the vending machine in the hallway but didn’t want to take a chance of missing anything. Instead I walked over to the window and looked down into the grounds below. A narrow path cut its way down through the center,lined by street lamps circa 1900. Leaves lined the path and now and then a gust of wind would catch them and spread them about. I opened the window.

A blast of cold air rushed in. I hadn’t realized how warm the room had gotten and the cool night breeze stirred my senses. Suddenly the autumn wind had brought new life into a room where another life was failing. I looked over my shoulder back at her, imagining for a moment that she would look up at me and smile one last time, reach out her hand to hold mine and tell me that everything would turn out alright. It was then that I saw her take her final breath, her chest rising and falling for the last time. The steady hum of the EKG was drowned out by the wind and the rustling of leaves outside.

I almost didn’t hear the rattle.

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