One moonlit evening, Jacob kept his eyes on the road and smiled a Cheshire-cat grin; as he concentrated on driving, Vivian concentrated on driving her tongue along the highway of his neck—kissing it, flicking it, nibbling on it—her journey continued around the curve of his ear. Vivian cradled his unresponsive hand in the ICU and whispered, “My God, what have I done?”
“I’m sorry about yesterday, let’s never fight again,” my husband tells me when he visits me in the hospital after the crash. What my husband doesn’t know, I took his car this morning.
Lifting up, up, up off of the crinkly papered bed, she floated aboard the majestic, wooden air ship, where she slow-danced with Prince Charming’s handsome son, wearing a flowing ball gown that sparkled like diamonds in the melting lip-gloss gold sunset that the circus animal crew – elephants and zebras wearing colorful hats and silly shirts – was working to sail into, paddling their oars rhythmically against tufts of cumulonimbus clouds as if silently marking the beat of her dance. This was her favorite place to go whenever Mommy and the doctor started talking about her cancer.
“Sweetie, what on EARTH are you doing?” Claire asked, beyond surprised to see Chelsea, her pig-tailed, freckle-cheeked, pink-shorts-wearing four year-old daughter, hopping repeatedly on one foot for balance while jamming the other down the toilet, two dandelions grasped in one hand while the other worked the flushing lever.
“Well we bringed flowers to Grampa in the hospital yesterday, so now I’m gonna bring flowers to Bubbles,” Chelsea answered matter-of-factly, of course referring to her comrade who had, several weeks ago after a violent incident involving one of his (larger and more aggressive) bowl-mates, been sent via toilet flush to the fishy hospital.
Every day the janitor put on a lab coat and walked the halls, comforting patients, family and friends.
The hospital dare not fire him because deaths have dramatically dropped.
Somehow, goodbye never feels easy in the mouth; it catches in the throat and twists the tongue and you end up saying, “I’ll see you soon.” As you close the curtain on your way out, the gentle white lie is laid bare and its grim implications jolt you to a halt.
The man in the white doctor’s coat looks down on me in my hospital bed and sadly shakes his head. The dour-faced nurse with the syringe walks right through him.