Complete the short story/flash fiction, that has the following opening:
Would he notice when she took her last breath?
The hospital room was a sterile white, it’s lack of color, of anything to distract the mind made the walls seem to swim in and out of focus. Or was that because he was tired? He was tired. He had been at his wife’s side for the past thirty-six hours and he hadn’t slept.
The car accident had been catastrophic, at least that’s what the doctors had said. The damage done to her body could be repaired, could be fixed, but the damage to her brain, to the center of her being, that was damage that couldn’t be fixed. She wasn’t on a ventilator, having signed a “do not resuscitate” order not four months prior as she watched her mother slowly die of cancer. So here she was, lying on this sterile white bed, in a sterile white room, waiting for her brain to heal itself or shut down. The doctors were convinced it was going to shut down, but he had hope. He had faith.
He held her hand, as he had for the past day and half, scared that if he stopped touching her she would pass away. He only went to the washroom when someone was there to hold her hand in his stead. He didn’t sleep for fear that when he woke up she would be gone. Through the force of his will, through the power of his faith, he tried to heal her, make her whole once more.
The monitors were quiet, with only the slow, sixty beats per minute of her heart making any noise on the thousands of dollars of equipment that couldn’t save her. He held her hand and brought it to his lips for a gentle kiss. There were no more tears, he had none to shed, and his eyes were red from crying and lack of sleep, but he gazed again at her face. If he hadn’t known that she was dying he would have thought that she was asleep. Her face was gentle and relaxed, free from the worries of her job and their life together. No more arguments over whose turn it was to clean the cat litter or feed the fish.
He closed his eyes for a moment, pressed his forehead to the back of her hand and whispered softly, “I love you babe.”
He knew when she was gone. He knew before the machines started their insistent squeal when they could no longer detect her heartbeat. He knew before the nurse came in to turn off the machine. He could feel it, he could feel her hand, full of life one moment and the next? Lifeless, no heart, no emotion, no love.
He waited until the nurse left the room and then, for the last time, he cried.
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