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.

wanted9000 said...
on Mar. 16 2010 at 5:59 pm
Dallas James Hogue

Time of Death

The short story, Time of death, by Grace Hoo H., does a good job developing the plot. In the beginning she started out with an exposition. That to me was when she started out talking about how the first death was never your fault. “The first death on your watch isn’t even your fault.” This shows how the author is not so emotional but still cares about the people that she is trying to help. I now thought the rising action of the story was when the author wrote about how that person had to try and help a baby, but couldn’t because the character knew that helping the baby would only make life that much harder for the baby. “Even if he survives a year, he will be severely physically and mentally disabled.” This shows to me the harder parts of the doctors life, because the doctor is asked for help but can’t do anything. The final parts of plot is the climax and the resolution. I thought this was shown through the doctors final emotions when his or hers own mother died. ‘She brushes her hand against yours, squeezing it once before closing her eyes.” This is the hardest for the character because it is a death really close to him or her. I feel though that the character dealt with this problem very well. Once again the author, Grace Hoo, made a good point of developing plot.

on Mar. 16 2010 at 1:32 pm
Paper_Poetic GOLD, Highland Village, Texas
11 articles 0 photos 8 comments
this is great! very well written! I really loved it.

would you check out some of my work?

meeeee said...
on Mar. 16 2010 at 10:20 am
meeeee, Thats My Buisness, Connecticut
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
when life gives you lemons screw the lemons and bail.

Review of yo story

Your story, time of death, was so well written I really enjoyed how well thought out the plot was. Even in the last segment when you said the 33rd death is the best I didn’t feel that you were overdoing it at all. I’m glad you were willing to writ about something so personal. The theme was very strong and just made the story even better. Also at the part where you said that the 33rd death is the best and that talked about how it was your mom dying. That was a little confusing because it seems that that would be the worst death because it’s your mom. Lastly I am just wondering if this is realistic fiction or just fiction because it seems like you know an awful lot about weaving the paddles and who knows maybe your just educated in this matter. They’re than that I loved your story it really got me thinking which is one thing I love in a story. Thanks for writing it made my… literacy class.

on Mar. 16 2010 at 8:01 am
Darkchloe14 BRONZE, Memphis, Tennessee
1 article 0 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be Strong"

Very good work. Well written, too

on Mar. 16 2010 at 12:33 am
francinejar SILVER, Chino Hills, California
7 articles 1 photo 22 comments

Favorite Quote:
God and the devil are raging inside me.

is there another segment

Mango19 SILVER said...
on Mar. 7 2010 at 8:26 am
Mango19 SILVER, Secunderabad, Other
5 articles 2 photos 31 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If Winter comes , can Spring be far behind ?"
"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going"

Extremely well written..

SunnyGirl307 said...
on Feb. 26 2010 at 10:03 pm
Wow this is soo SAD! But I LOVED IT! You are an amazing writer!

on Feb. 22 2010 at 3:10 pm
firstsnowfalls DIAMOND, Marcellus, New York
51 articles 6 photos 105 comments
wow this is wonderful

on Feb. 22 2010 at 11:00 am
That is so SAD and so well written.... Man.... :'( Good job!

E.Lee GOLD said...
on Feb. 16 2010 at 10:27 am
E.Lee GOLD, Akron, Ohio
15 articles 0 photos 168 comments
LOVED it. :)

on Feb. 15 2010 at 5:46 pm
Mykindapeopledontcarewhatyouthink BRONZE, Gueydan, Louisiana
2 articles 0 photos 124 comments
i loved it keep writing

on Jan. 31 2010 at 4:50 pm
AnneOnnimous BRONZE, Peterborough Ontario, Other
3 articles 0 photos 146 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."
— John Green

amazing!! I absolutely loved it!! great writing... please check out some of my work

on Jan. 31 2010 at 3:24 pm
Mzday73 PLATINUM, Princeton Junction, New Jersey
31 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth." -Mark Twain

This is so awesome! I don't really even know what to say, other than the piece was very touching....

on Jan. 31 2010 at 3:07 pm
B.R.Nack SILVER, Grand Junction, Colorado
5 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
“...Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
--Stephen King

wow, im having issues coming up with words to fit how amazing this is! its great keep writing you are amazing

on Jan. 31 2010 at 1:12 pm
AquariusSunandMoon SILVER, Sublette, Illinois
8 articles 17 photos 69 comments
This is really, really, REALLY good! Keep writing! :)

on Jan. 31 2010 at 12:58 pm
live~en~livre BRONZE, Maplewood, New Jersey
2 articles 1 photo 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." --Albus Dumbledore.
* I can't seem to follow this quote at all, but I still love it.

wow. that was amazing. Your story is one of the best I've read so far! very inspirational.

Keep Writing.

check out my story! :)

on Jan. 31 2010 at 9:06 am
seven_stones GOLD, Atlantis, Massachusetts
16 articles 0 photos 45 comments

May 19 1849

she sat in front of the fire that raged behind her. Her black hair was oily purple in the wake of it's light.She could not feel the flames or the heat that pulsed through them like a beating heart. Her eyes were closed tight. Maybe if she closed them tighter she could shut them out, shut them out. Her mind was like a glass brain shattered. Pieces fading in and out and her head bulging, crying out in pain.Her limbs felt hollow, not connected. Harrowed bones that did not belong to her, on loan from a different beast entirely. They clamored together as tendrils of flame shot through her. But her skin was not singed in the blaze. It lay milky and cool to the touch, more like water then fire, it's spiteful cousin. Tighter and tighter she squeezed her eyes. Shut them out shut them out! And then the end of her yellow lace dress started to curl like a withered rose. And black swallowed the wine colored satin. And she grabbed the necklace from her neck, the fine copper chain snapping as she did, and hurled it as far as she could. They stopped, the voices, It stopped. She cried in joy at the silence in her head as flames engulfed her, yet she felt no pain as she blackened. Instead she welcomed her end, for she had prayed for her misery to end for years and years.

I jolted up from my sleep. Tears streamed down my face.I had another dream about my great great great aunt Cora Irene Hadley. I was breathing heavy, my black hair glued to my forehead with sweat. I checked the clock. three in the morning. I tried to get back to sleep but I kept seeing Cora's face being drowned in flame. I got up from the bed and walked softly out towards the long twisty hall. There Cora's Victorian portrait hung. My parents say that she died on her birthday. May 19 . That was the day I was born as well. My entire family was devastated, they were the superstitious types. I remember being little and hearing my parents arguing in the kitchen. "What are the odds mike? That Cora would be born, die and my little Ethel born all on the same date?" "Kathy stop this. A date dose not define her!" Cora died at the age of eleven, much younger then I. I finally stopped in front of the weathered photograph. The most frightening thing of all was that my great aunt Cora Irene Hadley looked exactly like me

she was my mirror image. She had a look of welsh beauty with a small inverted chin and shiny black hair. Family members called it eerie. The same frowning tight line of a mouth and big disk-like eyes with semi-circle brows. I came here often when I woke from nightmares about her. Just to stare at the photograph, so mysterious. There was allot of mystery around Cora. People say that she died in the St.Louis fire in 1849. They found her burnt up in the center of a field with her hand over her heart. It is said that my great great great grandmother Ethel Hadley, who I am named after, could sense that she was about to die miles away visiting a sick friend. They say that right before Cora died she saw a single raindrop fall into the palm of her hand from a cloudless sky, and she screamed out Cora's name because somehow she knew.

I traced my fingers over the portrait in the dark hallway. "Only a superstition" I said out loud to steady myself. I reached out to touch the portrait again and it was white hot. I screamed and fell back.. when I looked at my hand it was severely burned. Gasping for air I ran back to the room, but not before I looked back at Cora,

she was smiling

I locked the door and examined my hands, trying not to vomit. Bits of white bones were exposed amid mottled flesh, the cusp of which was blackened and charred, flaking off like a crumb cake. However I felt nothing, not the slightest bit of pain. I ran into my parents room. They were asleep in a billowy mountain of comforters. I shook them with my good hand. "Mom mom mom... I burned myself I don't know how it just happened and look! Look!" I thrust my hand out. "Ethel I don't see anything honey... did you have a nightmare again?" "Mom I'm not five and look at it! Look!" I looked down at it and gasped as I saw nothing but a healthy unburned hand. "Oh lord" I whispered. I ran from their room and into the hall at Cora's portrait. Now cool to the touch, I picked it up and hurled it of the wall down he stairs, hearing the glass smashing off the frame. I tentatively looked down the stairs, half expecting Cora to crawl from her photo. But instead I saw a glint of something amidst the shards of broken glass. A necklace with a copper chain.

PAMMY said...
on Jan. 15 2010 at 8:38 am
WOW!!!thi is SO amazing

it is inspiring, creative, and very true

you ha about death

YOU have change my ways of thinking

Thank You!

on Jan. 9 2010 at 10:04 pm
crazycreative23 BRONZE, Maple Grove, Minnesota
1 article 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
Each new hour holds new chances for new beginnings.
-Maya Angelou

wow. beautiful,

ponysyd BRONZE said...
on Jan. 9 2010 at 5:45 pm
ponysyd BRONZE, Morrisville, Vermont
1 article 9 photos 24 comments
That was AMAZING! Nice job, I loved it.