A short story for Tiggy's Birthday Party.
|Twenty-eight years. I've been married to my wife for 28 years.
Today is my wedding anniversary, so I decide to do something nice for my wife. I get in my car and drive to the florist down the road. I look through the flowers. They're all so beautiful, I think. I choose a bouquet of orchids. I'm sure she'll love them. I pay the lady behind the counter for the flower, and leave the shop.
The drive to the hospital is a short one. When I arrive, I make my way across the parking lot, flowers in hand. One look at the huge building in front of me, and my smile falters. Get a hold of yourself, Charlie, I scold. Be strong. The automatic doors open, and I step inside. Memories of that night wash over me.
My wife lying still on the floor. The sirens of an ambulance. Waiting for the doctors to tell me what's going on.
".......cardiac arrest....... blood flow to the brain...... comatose...... might not wake up......"
The cold dread that washes over me....
No. Forget that. That was a year ago. Exactly a year, a little voice says. I try to argue, but the voice is right. That's when it happened. One year ago, on our twenty-seventh anniversary. I'd gone out early in the day to buy her a gift (an angel sculpture with the words "My Angel" etched on the front), and when I came home, my beautiful angel was passed out on the floor.
I'll never forget the look on her face as she was carried into the ambulance on a stretcher. I shudder. Focus, Charlie, I tell myself. Your wife needs you now. I find a nurse, and ask her if I can see my wife.
"Sure," she says kindly. "What's her name?"
"Jane Phillips," I reply. "And I'm her husband, Charles."
"Of course, Mr. Phillips. Right this way."
I take a deep breath and follow the nurse up a flight of stairs and into a small room. In it, there is a small table, a chair, and a bed. Lying in the bed, pale as a ghost, is my wife. Breathe, I remind myself.
"I'll leave you two alone for a bit." The nurse steps out of the room. I sit down.
"Hi sweetheart." Barely more than a whisper. "It's me," I say. "It's Charlie. Do you remember me?" She answers only with silence, but I'm not discouraged.
"Today is a very special day, Jane. Do you know what today is?" Nothing.
"Today is our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. Isn't it wonderful, darling? Twenty-eight years ago, you told me that you love me, and I told you that I love you just as much." I watch as the love of my life continues to sleep.
I set the flowers down on the table next to her bed, and stand up. She doesn't move when I press a gentle kiss to her forehead, nor when I open the door to leave.
"Happy anniversary, Jane," says a voice I barely recognize as my own. "Until next year."