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Her name was Patience Caldwell.
I thought it fit her, the little name that enveloped her so easily. Day after day she lay in bed with her head tilted just slightly to the side, watching the only window in that small room that caught the sun just so perfectly at midday, just as it made its final descent down behind the mountains, casting the sky in a beautiful array of dark blues and red and pinks and oranges, and she would smile. She never rushed, never worried at the time ticking away at her life, and she was content in that unknowing of everything around her, or how her death was ever approaching mere hours away.
But I could see it, the numbers that bounced just above her head and ticked away slowly the seconds and minutes of her last few hours. I found it almost amusing how much she could smile while all could do was lay there in that room that smelled so strongly of death creeping through the floorboards and windows, attaching itself to everything in there. It clung harshly to the sheets an thin white curtains, to her hair and small hands. her eyes became blank and dark circles formed under her eyes. Her sweet, light brown hair was slowly losing its curl as it splayed out her pillow like a halo around her head.
And she smiled, still, happy through the pain. It was almost as if she had let herself become resigned to that terrible little fate.
Nurses had long forgotten her in that room, barley checking in on her once every week or so. They knew there was nothing left for her, the little woman they'd deemed her though she’d barely peaked at nineteen when an unrelenting illness struck her, and I found her. I found her alone, humming to herself and flipping through drawings that children from that place had brought her as they became attached to her for only a moment before finding others to be with.
She wasn't much to me. She was a stroke of luck, a dying, lonely human, the first I'd seen when I walked into that little place. While I didn't do much more than sit with her, barely speaking while she lay there and smiled. Still, it seemed enough for her, that little bit of human interaction that she seemed to want so badly.
Patience waited for me every day, her head tilted just to the side as as she watched the only window in the room that caught the sun perfectly at midday as it made its descent behind the mountains, casting the sky into blues and pinks and purples and oranges. She knew me well, always there just before the sky turned dark.
She propped herself up against the rickety headboard, a large smile grown across her face as she ran her fingers through her hair. “Mr. Crispin!” she breathed before I even opened her door. I grinned and slipped inside, a book tucked under my arm. She eyed it happily and pushed her pillow up against her back.
“Myles,” I said and laughed, settling in the chair that she always kept at her bedside. “I’d rather you not use such formality with me, Miss Patience. Or would you rather me call you Miss Caldwell from now on?”
Her face blushed and her eyes grew wide, as though this were some horror she wasn’t ready to succomb to. “Of course not, Mr. Crispin! I could never ask you to do that,” she said quickly, her voice shaking and her fists balling her bed sheets. She sighed heavily and breathed hard, a raspy cough escaping from her mouth. She looked up quickly, her hands clapped tight over her mouth, and she forced a swet little smile.
She liked me, and the reasoning for her affection remained unfounded to me. I did nothing for her but stay there, barely saying a single word to her, but I suppose that was a human emotion I’d been left out on. If only she knew, I’d thought many times, that I valued her life if only to keep my own absolute. I was a selfish monster, and that was all she loved of me, that little part of terrible me.
“I’d rather you not think so highly of me, my dear Miss Patience, “ I said slowly and reached out, running my fingers through her hair, the little remnants of curl slipping through my fingers. “I don’t deserve that.”
Her hand caught mine, lacing her fingers through mine. “I think very well of you, Mr. Crispin,” she said, and single tear slipped down her cheek. Her lower lip trmebled and she pulled my hand to her cheek. “I will miss you, Mr. Crispin, and only you. I’ve wished that I could be healthy so that I could be with you just a bit longer, but I’m afraid…I…”
I took a breath and clapped another hand over hers, mine enveloping her small hands. “Patience Caldwell, “ I whispered slowly and stood from my chair, touching my cheek to hers, my mouth next to her ear, “do you fear death?”
Her heart beat hard, the pulse bumping through her veins. Her breath ws shaky as she answered me, “yes, I do. I don’t want ot die here, Mr. Crispin, no now.”
I leaned forward slowly, my mouth open as my teeth sank into her neck, her blood rushing over my tongue and down my throat, and her heart beat faster and faster under her skin until finally…it stopped.
It was fifty years before I could find any sort of affection for the monster that I’d made out of poor Pateince Caldwell, and it was a beautiful feeling. I lived fo her smile and the small kiss that she’d plant on my cheek in the mornings as she rose for the day. I was happy for every moment that I spent with her, every single moment that I could hold her in my arms.
She slipped out of our bed, though we used it only for appearances, and shuffled quietly across the floor, as if afraid of bothering me in the morning. Her gown slid over the hardwood as she flung upen the curtains that covered th only window in our room, sunlight flooding in. She turned, smiling at me lightly as I slid out form under the covers and walked across the floor, wrapping my arms around her waist.
“Yeas ago, when I was sick, all I wanted was to be able to go up to that window in my room. I wanted to be able to walk those few steps and see out oh my own. You did this for me,” she said slowly, gesturing out at the open window. With a smile, she turned to face me, her back to the window. “I love you, Mr. Crispin.”
I grinned and pulled her up to me. “I’d rather you not think so highly of me, Miss Patience,” I said quietly, and pressed my lips to hers.