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Rated: E · Sample · Sci-fi · #1836000
This is a writing sample from my novel Time Stent.
From Time Stent, a novel.

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Dr. Grant reflected sourly on the ways of political life in the Capitol. When he had taken the post of Senior Science Advisor three years earlier he would not have believed the demands on his time when serving at the will of the President. And, he could not have imagined the toll these demands of time would take on his health and his marriage. From too many late evenings eating fast food takeout at his desk, his once trim and healthy physique had slowly degenerated into that of an out-of-shape bureaucrat with high blood pressure and an extra twenty pounds saddled around his middle. Tonight, he sat ensconced alone at the end of a crowded bar barely noticing the noisy happy-hour and early dinner crowd inside one of the many trendy Capitol restaurants.

His splitting headache had been slowly building in intensity for an hour. He blamed job and home stress. With one hand, he massaged his pounding temples. And with the other hand he idly swirled the golden brown liquor he had been nursing. Neither action seemed to be taking the edge off his pain.

Halfway through his fourth glass of adult refreshment his cell phone vibrated in his coat pocket. Wearily he fished it out and stared at the screen reading the caller ID. It was the President’s Office, of course. Since he and his wife had finally separated weeks earlier, hardly anyone else called this private cell number.

He looked at his half empty glass and then at the cell phone. He regretted ordering this last drink. Taking a deep breath, he answered.

“Elliott Grant.”

“Dr. Grant, this is the President’s Office,” a female voice replied. “Sir, the Capitol Police called. They are urgently trying to reach you. Your wife has been involved in a traffic accident, and she has been taken to Federal Hospital.”

A lump formed in Dr. Grant’s throat and the warm fog the liquor had induced partially cleared. “Is she badly injured?”

“The Capitol Police didn’t provide details; however, they asked that you immediately go to the hospital’s emergency room.”

“Thank you. I’ll go at once.”

The cab ride to Federal Hospital was a total blur to Grant. He was startled when the cab stopped at the Emergency Room entrance. He peeled off the necessary currency to pay for the fare, passed it to the driver, and hurried inside.

Moments later Grant stood outside an emergency trauma room peering through the door’s window at a team of physicians and nurses that were frantically and methodically attending to a female figure lying motionless on a bed. He could tell from their urgent actions that the woman had a serious medical condition. Abruptly the trauma room filled with the shrill sounds of sensor alarms. The urgent actions, if possible, went faster than before.

A sweat broke out on Grant’s forehead. Although he and his wife had grown more distant in the past few years, his memories of better times surfaced and a wave of emotion washed over him. He felt weak in his knees and lightheaded at the same time. Just as abruptly the shrill alarms stopped. The trauma team stopped their ministrations and began angrily stripping off their soiled bio safety gowns and protective gloves tossing them into waiting waste receptacles.

A frustrated tall man in blue scrubs shoved the door open and nearly bowled Grant over. His quick reflexes grabbed Grant as he fell backwards.

“I’m so sorry!” the tall man blurted. “Did I hurt you? Are you OK?”

Grant couldn’t respond. He looked through the open door at the body of his wife. Someone was draping a sheet over her inert body. All of the remaining color drained from Grant’s face as his knees finally gave way. The tall man tightened his grip and held Grant up.

“Help! I need some help here,” the tall man shouted. Almost at once someone pushed a wheelchair behind Grant and several sets of arms helped him to sit.

“Are you hurt?” the tall man questioned Grant in concern as he flashed a small flashlight into Grant’s eyes to test their responsiveness.

The question slowly resonated in Grant’s consciousness and he finally shook his head ‘no’ as his awareness of where he was came back. He slowly pointed towards the trauma room. “That’s my wife,” he croaked.

The tall man realized that Grant was in shock. “I’m so very sorry about...er...I apologize, sir, I don’t even know your wife’s name.”

“Emily. Her name is Emily. My name is Elliott,” he stammered. “Elliott Grant.”

“Mr. Grant, I want you to know we did everything we could. We simply ran out of time to fix all of her injuries.”

“What happened to Emily?”

“What happened to Emily?”

“The paramedics said she was hit by a car in a crosswalk downtown. I don’t know anything about what caused the accident itself. I’m sure there is a policeman around here somewhere that can tell you more. Can I get you anything? Would you like some water?”

Grant weakly shook his head yes and a cup was placed in his hand by someone. He gulped it down and nodded for more.

“How badly was Emily hurt?”

“I honestly don’t know the full extent of her internal injuries. We were addressing the obvious trauma symptoms first as fast as we could. I’m pretty sure she’s been unconscious since the accident and I don’t think she ever felt any pain, if that’s worrying you. We just ran out of time. I’m sorry for your loss Mr. Grant.”

Grant turned away from Emily’s body and looked directly at the tall doctor kneeling beside his wheelchair for the first time. Grant could see that the man was physically spent from his efforts trying to save his wife. Grant extended his hand. “Thank you for trying. I know you did your best. Everyone on your team worked very hard. I know. I watched.”

The tall doctor accepted his proffered hand and shook it firmly. “I appreciate your kindness. I truly wish the outcome had been different. Would you like to be with your wife now?”

“Can I?”

“Certainly.” The tall doctor pushed his wheelchair into the trauma room and gently pulled the sheet back reveling Emily’s face. There was a small blood splatter on her cheek and the doctor gently wiped it away with the sheet.

Emily looked like she was sleeping. Grant sought her hand and pulled it out from under the sheet. Her bloody hand was already growing cold. Grant broke down sobbing uncontrollably. The perceived significant differences they had fought about in recent months now seemed insignificant and trivial. He grieved bitterly over time needlessly lost. If he could only find a way to turn back time, he would do things differently, he vowed to the memory of his wife.

* * *
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