I love my grandparents. And my grandma has been lovingly asking for a sample of my writing for quite some time. So I decided the easiest way to share would be here. That way the rest of you can see something creative I’ve written. This is a short story I wrote for a class earlier this year. Enjoy!
To Have Loved and Lost
Someone was using my chest as a punching bag.
It seemed crazy, but as far as I could tell, it was the only thing that made the slightest bit of sense. I was being hit in the same spot, with the same force, at a steady rate. There was a short pause and the pounding started again. When I figured out who was doing this to me, I was going to . . .well, I like to think that I’d give as good as I was getting, but to be honest, I’d likely yell a bit and break down in tears. Again, the thudding stopped for a few seconds and resumed.
What on Earth is happening to me? I thought frantically. This time when the thumping stopped, I felt something pinch my nose and pressure on my face. Oh, I realized, someone is giving me CPR. You know, that makes a lot more sense than magically being turned into a. . . OH MY GOD!!! Why is someone giving me CPR?! What happened? I started to panic, but couldn’t. After all, when a person panics, her heart races and she starts hyperventilating. I was obviously unable to do either of those things.
Okay, focus Janet. What is the last thing you remember doing? I thought back. Today was Friday. At least, I hoped it was still Friday. I had gone home after work and called my best friend, Kelly. We were both excited about something. What was it? We had recently been on a shopping trip and she was telling me to wear the new blue dress because Scott would love it. That was it! I had finally agreed to go out with Scott earlier this week and the date was for Friday night. Oh, I hope I didn’t collapse in front of Scott. I remember Scott picking me up and driving me to. . . a local bar. His brother’s band was playing. As the memories grew clearer, I felt my heart begin to beat faintly and a wisp of air tickled my lungs into breathing on their own. I began to feel the pain of someone pushing on my chest repeatedly. My eyes opened fractionally and I saw Scott’s face hovering over me. Then I passed out.
When I woke up again, I was in the hospital room. I looked around at the familiar, sterile surroundings. I turned my head to look out the window and was slightly comforted by the sight of the river.
“At least they got the outfit right,” I murmured, smiling at the neon green hospital gown. Bright colors helped me stay optimistic.
“Janet?” a voice asked. “Are you awake?”
I turned away from the window to the seat on my left. I wasn’t used to seeing anyone in it, but today it was occupied, although only barely. Scott was practically falling out of the chair as he leaned forward in concern. I sighed. I really didn’t want to worry about him. I was saved from explanations by the arrival of the doctor.
“Hello, Janet. I’m glad to see you awake,” he said.
“This is Dr. Gregson, Janet,” Scott said. I didn’t bother to tell him that I knew Dr. Gregson very well. Dr. Gregson looked at me and I shook her head in response to his silent question.
Dr. Gregson turned to Scott. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave for a few minutes, Scott. I have a few things to discuss with Janet. You can wait right outside the room if you’d like.” Scott nodded, but left rather reluctantly. I gave him a reassuring smile.
“I’m happy you have a boyfriend, Janet, but why haven’t you told him about your heart?” Dr. Gregson said sternly. I knew he meant well.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I explained. “Not really. Tonight was our first date. At least, Friday was. What day is it?”
“It’s Sunday morning. You’ve been through quite a bit.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Your heart gave out. I think the medication has stopped working. Scott gave you CPR until help arrived, which saved your life. However, it may have further damaged your heart. We won’t know for sure until we run some more tests. Serena is on duty right now; let her know if you need anything, okay?”
I nodded distractedly as he left. Scott came back in. “What’s the verdict?” he asked lightly.
“My heart gave out,” I said frankly. It was time to be completely honest with him. “Scott, there’s a reason I kept turning you down for all those months when you asked me out. I have a heart condition. One of the valves in my heart doesn’t work properly; it never has. I’ve spent a lot of time in this hospital room over the years. I’ve had multiple heart surgeries. Dr. Gregson thinks that my medicine has stopped working. I don’t know what will happen next; there may be some new experimental drug to try or he may want to do more surgery. Or there might be nothing he can do. Scott, I’m going to be in the hospital for a while. You don’t need to feel responsible for me. You can go home.”
“But if I hadn’t taken you out to that bar-“ he started.
“Then I would have been home alone when it happened,” I interrupted. “And I would have died.”
Scott sighed. “I don’t feel responsible, or obligated, or anything like that, but I want you to know that I will come to visit you as often as I can. I care about you Janet, and I want to help you beat this thing.”
I didn’t disagree, as I figured after a few days he would tire of visiting and stop coming. I was wrong. Three weeks later, Scott was still coming to see me almost every day. He entertained me with stories of his childhood and family. I absorbed them like water. I grew up alone; earing about his family made me feel like I was a part of it. The time passed with some minor improvements in my health, but Dr. Gregson began to smile less when he came to see me.
“Unless a miracle happens, Janet, I don’t think you’ll leave the hospital again,” he said sadly one day. I nodded. I had expected as much, but that didn’t make it any easier to hear. That night was a rough one. I had long ago resigned myself to an early death. I was an orphan. I was leaving no one behind. Now I had something I wanted to live for. I was in love with Scott. And I was sure he felt the same way about me.
“How did you sleep?” Tina, another nurse, asked the next morning.
“Not well,” I said. “I was Jacob last night, wrestling with God.”
“I thought he wrestled an angel,” Tina said as she checked the various monitors. “What were you wrestling with, dear?”
“I don’t want to die, Tina. I thought I was ready, but I’m not. I want to live for a long time. I want to get married and have a family, to see the world, to be happy and sad. I just want to be.” I started crying. Tina sat on the bed next to me and gathered me into a hug. She rubbed my back gently, not saying anything. There was nothing to say. We both knew I was dying. By that afternoon, I had accepted it. Scott could tell something was different as soon as he walked in.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Scott, I don’t think you should visit me anymore,” I said gently. I didn’t want to put him through more heartache. I should have made him stop coming long ago, but I enjoyed his visits so much, I selfishly took as many as I could have.
“Why?” he asked. “Has something happened? Is it too stressful for you?”
“No, it’s not that.”
“Then what is it?”
“I’m not going to leave this hospital again, Scott. You have a life; go live it.”
Scott turned to stand by the window, his back to me. I tried not to cry again.
“’It is better to have loved and lost. . . .’” The words were so soft, I almost missed them.
“I won’t let you die alone.”
“Janet, I love you. I know you don’t want me to, but I do. Please, let me spend time with you while I can.”
“Okay,” I whispered, tears in my eyes. He sat on the bed next to me and wrapped his arms around me. I laid my head on his chest, listening to his strong heartbeat, so unlike mine. I felt my eyes drifting shut. There was nothing I could do to stop them. I knew that it wasn’t sleep coming over me. I looked up at Scott for the last time.
“I love you too.” Then, darkness.
Until next time, fellow wonderers!