Short Story: warmth of time

The fluorescence light above flickered, pushing me to an edge I never knew existed.

It pressed me down into the illusion of solitude. It was all white, all white, the sheets and the beds and the walls. My fingertips were pale; stripped of warmth and color and all that would render them human.

I was cold and dying.

I bore a distorted truth, the sense of time and the lie of its shapeshifting. I never sunk into its rhythm, because it is a distasteful thing to have a clock ticking away at the side of a dying patient. The ticking I heard had always been a fragment of my imagination, because time stretches painfully when you’re cold.

Nights were especially long and quiet. They sent me into panic; the definite end that they hold threatened me and what little I had left. I broke into cold sweat when it happened, and felt my body come apart at the seams. I wanted to be released and contained all at once.

But then mornings came, and I heard her laugh across the hall sometimes. It filled the void that the night spent the minutes carving out of me. She was the sun, unapologetically barging into my life with a bustling warmth almost visible around her. She wore white, too, but her skin was dark and rich, a calm contrast to the dull ache that pressed on to me.

Our encounters were all in the company of needles and IV drips. Maybe, I made a drug-induced confession. Maybe I told her how much I feared the tick-tocks in my head, or how much I wanted to see her hair big like she would wear it outside the hospital, or how unfairly fast time passed when her work ethics allowed her to give the convict more warmth than she did her other patients, whose families would give all the warmth they needed, because there was no cold like the cold of hearing muffled voices of laughter and encouragement walls away when you’re withering in seclusion. Maybe I told her that she was a beautiful beginning following the end that crept closer every night, that I was sorry for all that I’d done, that I would give anything for another chance. Maybe I told her that she was the sun, because she spared me a second after her shift once, where she wasn’t putting things in my body or taking things out, and she smiled, not like she always did, because it looked so true and a little sad. It looked like dawn.

And maybe this is the end, because it is so warm I can’t stand it, and it’s everything I’d ever wanted. Time is stretching languidly, and I have nothing to do but to bask and let it seep through me until every piece of me is enclosed in it. I’ll bask until the day is done.

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15 thoughts on “Short Story: warmth of time

  1. Everyone needs their own “sun”. It was frightening how real this felt. You did an amazing job putting the reader into the POV of someone who is sick and dying but just clinging to the edge of life
    .
    P.S. I noticed one of your tags is “I hate myself and my writing”. I hope this isn’t true. Your writing is lovely. It’s easy to be hard on oneself but I hope you keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “…there was no cold like the cold of hearing muffled voices of laughter and encouragement walls away when you’re withering in seclusion.”
    How true, sadly, this can be.
    This is beautiful, I enjoyed reading this. The power of kindness. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. we all live in our own “hospitals” with our own “maladies.” sometimes we identify with the other “patients” sometimes envy, sometimes pity, often separate, whether we want to be or not. this could be a cover story in “Depression” magazine. sadness can be an affliction no one and assuage. the isolation and vaguely painful numbness, the ideas of weary, useless, endless nothing filling our dragging days can make the future a dreadful thing. do we want out? are we willing to dare into new arenas? can we engage with others and their pains and joys? I have.

    Liked by 2 people

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