Time of Death | Teen Ink

Time of Death MAG

January 15, 2009
By Grace Hoo Hoo BRONZE, Palatine, Illinois
Grace Hoo Hoo BRONZE, Palatine, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The first death on your watch isn’t even your fault. You’re just one of the many interns who rush to the bedside when the code is called, peering at the doctors crowding around. As the patient gasps and chokes, you too gasp and choke as each electric shock blasts through the body. The doctors are grim-faced but determined; you hopelessly wonder why they even bother. Again and again the voltage is cranked up, but thunderbolts can only do so much.

The doctor holding the paddles slowly turns away from the flaccid flesh and another quietly asks, “Time of death?” You back away, feeling as if the defibrillator was really meant for you as your heart pounds out its own furious pace. A devastated mother takes your wrist. “Time of death?” she whispers, mis­taking you for a doctor, someone who tried his best to resuscitate her darling daughter, someone who knew what he was doing, someone with guts enough to challenge death. Not a first-year intern who never could remember which number was the systolic for blood pressure, not someone who didn’t even dare to take blood sugar levels.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” you blurt. “You’ll be able to talk to the doctors inside …,” you mumble, patting the trembling hand. She bites her lip and nods, letting go of the scrubs that you shouldn’t be wearing, the scrubs reserved for those who can save lives, not for those who don’t even know how to gently break death to a loved one.

The third death is similar, only this time you’ve been dragged along for scut work. You’re the one ramming your hands into the sternum, trying to force the fluttering heartbeat into your rhythm. You’re the one leaping out of the way of the defib paddles, jumping back to start compressions again. The patient bottoms out, but after the paddles thunder a third time, you can feel the thump of the heart, tangoing with yours as you collapse against a chair, arms quivering with strain. You shudder with relief. You brought him back. You saved him. You.

The eighteen death is the hardest. That little baby in neo-natal care should never have been forced to live on machines. Each breath is a struggle, and the medications are flowing in a poisonous concentration for such a small body, yet the parents insist on continuing the farce of life. They’re unwilling to bear any grief while their baby boy wheezes and thrashes weakly, seeking comfort but receiving only the hard embrace of a hospital cradle and the groan of machines.

The mother shrieks, “He’s blue! Do something!” After you reach the crib and despair at the readouts, you motion the code team away and beckon to the mother and father.

“The best thing for him is to take him off the machines,” you say.

The dad glares. “You want to kill him.”

They don’t understand the torture they have put him through. “If he even survives a year, he will be severely physically and mentally disabled. For life,” I persist.

The mother moans, “He’s blue! I don’t care. Just save him! Now!”

You nod at the code team, maneuvering yourselves around the tiny crib and pulling off the oxygen mask, trying to fit your large palms against the flimsy baby with his face scrunched up in a silent wail. The heart drugs aren’t having any effect due to the amount of medication already flowing through his body.

“Use the shocker!” the mother wails.

“We can’t!” you snarl, trying to give compressions to a weak chest and an even weaker malformed heart. “Your baby is too small and his heart is deformed! If we do, we’ll kill him!”

The code leader shakes his head. “Time of death ….”


“3:36 p.m.”

The thirty-third death is the best death. You’re the one in charge. If a code is called, you will wield the paddles, call out “Clear!” You have the final say on time of death if it occurs. You won’t let those words pass your lips.

But she smiles at you through her pure white hair. “I’m ready to leave. Are you ready to let me go?”

You sob, throw down the clipboard. “No, Mom! I don’t want you to.”

She still wears the tender smile of years past as her body wastes away and shrivels to a mere fraction of her vitality. “But it’s necessary. I need you to. And you know it.”

“Mom ….”

And she brushes her hand against yours, squeezing it once before closing her eyes. “You’re ready.”

You kiss her cooling cheek then note: “Time of death: 9:12 a.m., Thursday, April 24 ….”

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This article has 300 comments.

on Jun. 12 2010 at 4:43 pm
forgottenpenname GOLD, Troy, Michigan
12 articles 0 photos 147 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Carpe diem."

This is amazing. Really made me cry. Keep writing.

Canfani BRONZE said...
on Jun. 12 2010 at 12:30 pm
Canfani BRONZE, San Bernardino, California
2 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Writing can lead to words, dimensions...

this is awesome! It's a great story.


on Jun. 12 2010 at 10:17 am
fictionlover_o6 GOLD, Perpetual Village Tuguegarao, Florida
12 articles 6 photos 18 comments
one word 4 ya: awesome

banna42 BRONZE said...
on Jun. 12 2010 at 9:00 am
banna42 BRONZE, Connellsville, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"you have enemies? good, it means you stood up for something" -eminem

amazing!!  this was a well written piece

on Jun. 10 2010 at 9:14 pm
MacnCheezz BRONZE, The Colony, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Phillipians 4:13

"People who hate reading scare me. Good books have kept me alive..."

That was fantastic. I want to be a doctor someday, and that is kind of a look into my future..

on May. 25 2010 at 8:39 am
Birdy-chan SILVER, Manistee, Michigan
8 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"In my opinion, the one statement that's ALWAYS believable is, 'I am a liar.' This is because, whether they always tell the truth or not, they ARE a liar. If they do lie, they're telling the truth, and if they always tell the truth, they're lying."

This was beautifully written and made me want to smile and cry at the same time. Thank you.

on May. 23 2010 at 1:09 pm
sunnyhunny PLATINUM, Litchfield, New Hampshire
22 articles 3 photos 329 comments

Favorite Quote:
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."

This is incredible and very touching.  Fantastic job. 

Noella BRONZE said...
on May. 21 2010 at 2:33 pm
Noella BRONZE, Edgerton, Wisconsin
1 article 0 photos 10 comments
This is a very touching story. You interacted well with the reader; allowing the reader to put themselves into the situation that you are explaining. It was extremely well written.

keilly said...
on May. 21 2010 at 8:02 am
i loved this! it is very touching and i did cry aswell. there are no words to describe what was felt while reading this. great job

on Apr. 29 2010 at 11:46 pm
BeautyFromPain BRONZE, Juneau, Alaska
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Idiocy is learned, your parents must be proud.

This is amazing... I cried through the whole thing, especially the part about the baby. My sister-in-law had twins and they were kept on macines. This is really touching...

robbi BRONZE said...
on Apr. 29 2010 at 8:31 pm
robbi BRONZE, Goldsboro, North Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
quotes are for people who are too uncreative to come up with their own sources of information.----ME.

excellent. very touching.

on Apr. 29 2010 at 6:01 pm
xBaByGiRrL22x PLATINUM, Pearl River, New York
22 articles 0 photos 280 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The goal isn't to live forever, but create something that will."
"If you wanna go, baby let's go; if you wanna rock, I'm ready to roll.''
"No one ever said it'd be easy. They just said it'd be worth it." <3

this is incredible. i luvv it. really kewl way of writingg((: keep it upp

on Apr. 29 2010 at 5:49 pm
kate-the-shrew BRONZE, McCall, Idaho
3 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.----Will Rogers

My mom always tells me that only a really good author can bring tears to your eyes when you read their writing. This brought tears to my eyes.

on Apr. 29 2010 at 6:57 am
Meavescrete SILVER, Potomac, Maryland
5 articles 1 photo 90 comments
This was wonderful. It really strikes someone hard when they read this. Great job.

on Apr. 22 2010 at 11:46 pm
CreativeScript PLATINUM, Port Hardy, Other
26 articles 0 photos 13 comments

That was really sad. I actually read this all. Some stories on TeenInk arent always worth reading. But this! I like the POVs in it!


PS: LOOK AT MY STUFF! COMMENT, RATE! Ill look at yours too!

on Apr. 7 2010 at 8:18 pm
shelterisland GOLD, Montclair, New Jersey
14 articles 0 photos 175 comments

Favorite Quote:
-Biting's excellent. It's like kissing only there's a winner."-Doctor Who, The Tardis

WOW loved the ending. really sad :'(

on Apr. 7 2010 at 8:13 am
Wellington BRONZE, Ann Arbor, Michigan
2 articles 0 photos 44 comments

Favorite Quote:
A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.
Richard M. Nixon

wow that was absolutely beautiful! i thought it was very fresh and new- nothing like i had ever seen before but a the same time very very sad.

Jenni_Marie said...
on Apr. 1 2010 at 12:07 am
This nearly made me cry! Astounding!

on Mar. 27 2010 at 6:26 am
PrincessPineapple GOLD, Chesapeake, Virginia
18 articles 0 photos 46 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To love someone is to learn the song that is in their heart, and sing it to them when they have forgotten." ~unknown

this is amazing! the twist at the end was great!

Jammer SILVER said...
on Mar. 16 2010 at 7:40 pm
Jammer SILVER, Woodbury, New York
7 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all."

just great... the end really jumps out at you, so well-written and relatable. any reader can/will empathize