Into the Gloaming Hours
His skin was grey, colder with each moment as my fingers dug into his flesh. He felt different. There was a texture that I couldn’t place, something I had never experienced. I kept him so close to me that it hurt to breathe. My lungs ached, gulps of air burning as I held tighter. I was in a trance. Mouth open, stretched so wide I could feel the corners of my chapped lips beginning to crack. But then there was nothing.
If there was blood, I couldn’t taste it. If I was screaming, I couldn’t hear it. If I was clawing at his lifeless form, I couldn’t feel it. I was numb in an instant, and the pain vanished like a whisper on the wind. I was adrift, sinking into a crimson oblivion as the floor opened up beneath us, and we melted into the gloom.
In that moment I saw his eyes once more, the endless brown depths turning black as my vision was vignetted.
We shall not meet again.
There was a pounding in my ears, and at once I had returned, shaken from the darkest corner of my mind by the shrill noise as my aunt chatted mindlessly to my grandmother. I had sunk into the plastic hospital chair, clutching the foam cup of ice I had gotten for him at the small courtesy station at the end of the hallway.
Everything seemed distant as I counted the cars neatly lined up in the rows of the parking lot. Everything was quiet, until he beckoned me closer with a weak come hither motion with one of his thin fingers.
I was wearing the ratty navy blue shirt that I kept in the back of my car, always hurrying to change out of my uniform as soon as I left work. I smelled like greasy cheese and sweaty deli meats, but he seemed pleased by my presence. He would take me any way I came, comforted by the familiar energy we share. We didn’t need to wear disguises. He knew how I was, and I knew him better than anyone I had ever loved.
He died as I gave him one more piece of ice. I had been wetting his lips as he looked at me with a soft gaze. A piece of me knew that he was saying his goodbyes. I didn’t want to accept them as his hand went limp in mine. I squeezed him tightly one last time, abandoning my chair as people flooded the room.
The sky was a dark pink as I silently walked to my car once the doctors had failed to revive him. I sat in my car with a sick feeling, my hands gripping the steering wheel as I tried to calm the heavy tides in my gut.
He had been waiting to die. Waiting until I arrived. I was what had been keeping him alive, a stubborn will to share one final moment.
I wished I would have never went.