Life Line

April 29, 2009
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The smell of antiseptic, floor cleanser and disease rushed to my nose. I staggered a bit at the sight, parents holding the hands of bloody children, people in wheelchairs, doctors and nurses rushing past them like they were just a part of the scenery. The gift shop on my left reeked with fake cheer.
I made my way through sick and hurt people, dodging them as much as possible to find the receptionist and waited for her to file paperwork. She finally looked up, more fake cheer, and smiled.
“Barbra Miller’s room number please?” The words came fast, but she understood, typing into her computer. I heard a three digit number, nodded my thanks and began walking. I hate hospitals. I am scared of hospitals.
I found myself outside a closed door, indistinguishable from others, lightly stained wood and a room number on the left side. I breathed deeply, filling my lungs, holding on for half a minute before knocking and turning the knob.
Barbra Miller, my father’s mother, had lived through the great depression, the Second World War, the first man on the moon, the first cell phone, flapper dresses and disco balls, and now she was dying in this ten by ten cubby hole. She’d traveled the whole world, and now she lay in a single bed made of metal and plastic, skin too pale to be healthy, arms too weak to lift, the only traces of radiance visible in her mahogany hair and bright intelligent grey eyes. Why did cancer have to take her body when she’d been able to keep her mind past so many others? She was as sharp as she’d ever been, and yet her body was deteriorating in front of my eyes.
“You look like you found a dead rat in your Rise Krispies, dear.” I barked out a laugh, shaking my head to clear my mind. I sat in the chair by her side, wondering how many people had sat in the same chair, thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same pain. She looked into my eyes, ones that looked so much like hers, and nodded sharply, making up her mind about something.
“Life is defined by the natural instinct to survive. If you make it through the pain, the fear, the grief, you’ll find yourself wanting to live. You shall be very happy you survived.” I looked at her in awe, but kept silent, staring where my hands gripped hers. Bones were visible through her translucent skin, my tan, young skin stretched taut beside loose flesh. It was my grip that was trying to hold her back, while she stared past me, smiling at something invisible, needing no life line. I felt her lips on my forehead, her breath brushing my hair as she told me to go home and get that rat out of my cereal. I nodded, kissed her cheek, murmuring that I loved her and rose. My grandmother still looked frail, maybe even a bit grayer, but she shooed me away just the same. I closed the door swiftly, my breath catching on a sob.

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vanessabass said...
May 14, 2009 at 11:24 pm
Kate, i don't know you, but this story is amazing!!! me and my boyfriend Chuck both agree that you have so much potential! keep up the good work Kate!
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