Thirty-six Minutes

September 23, 2008
She was only twenty when she was brought here. She was so young and innocent, so full of life. She was the type of girl that had straight As, and was part of student government on campus, the one with the bright future ahead of her. But like everyone else on the planet, she had a secret. She was severely claustrophobic, but she did her best to hide it in fear of being judged.

But that secret would come out in time, in her Psych 101 class of all places. They were discussing phobias, and she offered hers as a discussion topic. She didn’t think anyone would judge her, and that it would be fine, but she was wrong. Across the room, a freshman noted that little fact, and smirked. The freshman had found a way to get into Sigma Kappa.

The girls of Sigma Kappa liked the idea; anyway, no one really liked Ms. Goody-two shoes. She was too perfect for them, or maybe it was because they were just jealous. One quiet October night, they found her in the library. They knocked her phone off the table and kicked it into the utility closet. Then one of the girls called her phone.

She, of course, got up to look for it and found herself walking into the utility closet. Before she knew it, the door was bolted shut. And with the click of the lock, her fate was sealed.

Someone finally heard her screaming, but it was too late. She was admitted into the local hospital, and then moved here a month later.

It was a shame to see her in this place, sitting in a rocking chair day and night, lost in her own mind. She was all alone, except for one gentleman, who visited her every Friday and stayed with her all day.

It is the saddest sight one could ever see; he spoke to her all day, telling her of the world that she cannot live in. She only stared blankly ahead.

One day, one of the other nurses asked why he kept coming to sit with a catatonic girl. He looked at the nurse with a sad smile on his face. She was his sweetheart; they were planning to get married. But straight out of high school, he enlisted and was quickly sent to Iraq less than a year later. They promised each other that once she received her degree, they would get married.

When he found out what had happened, he sought a leave and came home as fast as possible. After all, he promised her that he would never leave her.

Then, one day came, and when he spoke to the doctor, something had changed. He smiled, filled with hope. He quickly came over to the nurses’ desk to fill out some paperwork to enroll her in a clinical trial. His signature was the only one that was needed; her parents had given him control over her and her affairs once they knew she would never come back. And with that, she was signed up to participate in a clinical trial for an injection that would bring her back to him.

Months would go by before the trial got underway, but he planned a wedding nonetheless.

The months flew by, and eventually, the big day came. He had arranged for her parents to fly in, for her friends to be there, as well as a minister. He bought rings, as well as bouquets of flowers. He even bought her a beautiful white dress.

Everything proceeded just as planned. He looked perfect in his tuxedo, just as planned. She was in her dress, just as planned. Flowers and friends filled the room, just as planned. But then one of her doctors came in and pulled him to the side. The look on the doctor’s face was not what it should have been. The young man looked at the doctor, resolute, and told him that he would give anything to have another moment with her. They would proceed, just as planned.

And with that, they gave her the experimental injection. And everyone waited. It was supposed to take an hour for the patient to regain consciousness. An hour passed, and she still stared blankly ahead. No one in the room was willing to voice the idea that she would never come back, but it was on everyone’s mind. Another hour passed, and the idea was on everyone’s lips. They all knew it was too good to be true. Another hour passed, and he cleared his throat so he could say what no one else could.

And then, like magic, she said his name, quietly, her voice cracking on the last syllable. He knelt down and hugged her, his smile as big as can be. They looked into each other’s eyes, beaming. Then they kissed, a kiss of lovers, a kiss of soul mates, a kiss for the ages. Their love radiated around the room.

The long awaited wedding went on, just as planned. They said their vows in a room heavy with emotion.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief after the couple said their I-dos. Nothing in the world would ever be as perfect as that moment.

As everyone filed out, her friends, her parents, the nurses, the couple was wished a million moments like that one. They were wished the happiness that everyone in the room longed for. He smiled, and looked down at her. He made a clever remark about one of her friends, but her reply was only a blank stare. He looked at her solemnly. They had a mere thirty-six minutes together.

But he knew that he was losing her after their last kiss. Despite his loss, he was not sad, nor was he regretful. He was blissful. He had married the woman he loved with all of his heart; he had gotten what most people can only dream of.

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