Here’s my entry for February’s AWC Furious Fiction.
Get Well Soon.
The card lies abandoned and hopeless on the bedside table. Without opening it, I can picture every message, every name and signature in it. All the well wishes come to naught. Yesterday it was surrounded by pill bottles. Today those things are gone.
The flowers that came with the card have long-since wilted. One of the nurses asked to take them for her compost heap. Someday they will be flowers again. Tomatoes and radishes. Strawberries, maybe. He would have liked that. Today they are dirt. Decay. Rot. Like he will be.
The bed has been stripped. The machines switched off, unplugged, wheeled away.
The card is the last thing in the room.
I don’t want it. I feel an inordinate rage towards it. As if it’s the card’s fault that he’s gone. As if it was a jinx on him. I take the card, and shove it into the depths of my handbag.
I nod at the nurses on my way out of the ward. They watch me go. I feel their judgment. You weren’t here, I hear them thinking. Your husband was dying and you weren’t here.
I can only nod, because they’re right. I wasn’t. I thought we had more time.
I go home. Pull a picture down from the mantlepiece. The first picture he let me take of him, on our first holiday together. He’s sitting on the harbour wall, eating chips from a paper bag. A gull perches cheekily at his side, watching the chip in his hand. He is laughing. He is happy.
I put it back. Keep it safe. This is the picture I’ll give to the funeral home, the picture for his memorial.
My hand hovers over a tall, white, pillar candle, wrapped in blue and green ribbon. It’s the candle we lit at our wedding. I light it. The smell of the burning wick and the melting wax takes me back to that day. It was only 5 years ago. Tears fell then. They fall now, too.
I pull the card from my handbag. Hold it to the flame. Watch the words blacken and fall away.
Get Well Soon
This piece is as much, if not more, a hot mess as my January entry. I think there’s a story in there, somewhere. I don’t know if a 500 word short story is necessary the best way to tell it. It needs work. Maybe one day I will turn it into something worthwhile.