Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Waiting This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

No one expects to be where I am. No one prepares. What can prepare you? I am surrounded by the unmistakable stench of hospital, of metal and sterility, but death is something bleach can’t cover. The intensive care unit has seen more goodbyes than just mine. I can’t bring myself to look up from the ground, from my feet. I’m not alone – that should serve as comfort, but it doesn’t. Every few minutes, I feel a stranger’s stare. They weigh the silent tears, the nervous habits. Understanding is the blanket warming us all, as the bleak fates of the people we love are pending. No one feels compelled to speak. There are no words. The television is on, but as Dr. Phil tells yet another Baby Daddy to “get real,” no one is watching. No one cares. The woman in the corner mechanically scans a magazine from last November. The glassy look in her eyes tells me not a word is being processed.

A routine has been established. Everyone snaps to attention when the nurses make their rounds, with the world at their disclosure. White shoes squeak on linoleum, gloves are snapped sharply from fingers, interrupting the stillness. I’ve seen the shows, the hospital soap operas. This isn’t so different. Each helpless parent, sibling, friend is led into the hallway, and it is there that life is they knew it comes to an end. Nurses bring the gut-wrenching updates, generic speeches about how “We did all we could.” The pattern repeats itself, once, twice, three times. I’ve stopped hoping for news of my own. I’ve stopped acknowledging them altogether. My time will come.

The chairs are uncomfortable. The items in the vending machine are not at all appealing. Who could eat here? The pictures on the walls are, of course, cheery scenes. I suppose they try and make the atmosphere inviting, to compensate for the obvious morbidity of the place. Even its name is ominous. The waiting room. I am in Purgatory. I look at the frames: children riding bicycles, kittens, the usual. Some of the sorry souls pace, inspecting each photograph for what seems like an eternity. They search for some profound meaning. They won’t find it.

For me, every picture is just another thing Sarah won’t do. No kittens for her. No bicycles. I try not to breathe, not to take up any more precious oxygen than is necessary. Breathing is selfish. The reality plays ring-around-the-rosy in my head, making me dizzy. It’s over… really, really, over. I wonder if this pessimism is permanent, or if it will pass in time. I put together a mental slideshow, and begin to think that I should have paid more attention to the sights, the sounds, the feelings with Sarah. To everything. Memories slip. The phrase, “It was fun while it lasted,” comes to mind. I’ll have to remember not to make any plans, from now on. Plans turn into… this. I shudder at the fact that I am already this bitter, already this cynical.
I hear beeps from all directions. I can’t help but wonder which of these beeps belong to Sarah. I pick one out, specifically. Its pitch seems melodic and somehow beautiful, more so than the others. Not to mention, it’s louder. Sarah’s room is right next door. It must be hers. I picture the screen of the monitor next to the bed, with the peaks that rise and fall. Highs and lows, ups and downs, each bringing the end closer. My thoughts drift, and before I know it my mind is empty except for the beeping song. I put two fingers at my wrist, and focus on synchronizing the two familiar rhythms.


Something happens. It happens slowly. The tempo begins to drag, and continues to drag more and more…. until the beeping comes to a halt. The end. For a moment, I think I may have imagined it. Then, I make the connection, and realize the implications of this sudden stop. Now, I want to leave. I want to run. I want to scream. I know I no longer have a reason to be here. The beep was my reason. The beep was Sarah. The beep has stopped. The beep is gone. Sarah… is…. The nurse stops in the doorway, the words printed in black and white on her face before she says a thing. So, this is love.




Join the Discussion


This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

.xCutMyLifeIntoPiecesx. said...
Feb. 22, 2010 at 7:56 pm:
This is one of the most powerful pieces I think I've ever read! It gives me chills the whole way through. The detail is amazing. There's a lot of things I specifically like so brace yourself, I'm going to list them: Especially in the first paragraph when you repeat phrases like "No one," "Nothing," "Never," it gives this ultimatum kind of feeling, I love that because it really sets the mood for the rest of the piece; "They won't find it"... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
acousticalex This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 16, 2010 at 5:27 pm:
Good prose. I enjoy death cab as well.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
MeggiePie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 16, 2010 at 2:33 pm:
wonderfullt written, i love the flow of the words.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback