I pace along the cold, sterile halls, the stench of cleaning supplies and death invading my senses. I struggle to keep my breathing even. I can’t break down here. I have to keep it together. I can feel the burn of the nurses’ sympathetic glances like an iron, leaving their marks of pity seared into my flesh. Their hushed whispers drift to my ears and I clench my eyes against the tears threatening to stream down my face.
They don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t know about the promise you made me; that when this was all over we’d walk out of this cesspool of disease together. I take a deep breath and lean against the wall for support. My heart feels as though its on the verge of shattering, each breath sends waves of piercing pain into my chest. I wrap my arms around myself, hoping to hold myself together, to keep the pieces of my soul from crumbling apart.
The ring resting on my left hand seems to weigh a thousand pounds, as I look down at the diamond glimmering weakly under the fluorescent lighting. I stare at that ring, searching for the answers of what the future holds for us.
I’m still staring at that **** ring when the doctor finds me.
“Mrs. Payne?” I hear a voice call gently. I jump slightly, looking up into a pair of concerned grey eyes.
“It’s Ms. Roberts,” I correct him softly. “We’re getting married in the fall.” my voice is so quiet, I’m not sure if he heard me or not. I’m not sure why, but I have to make sure he understands when the wedding is; so no matter what he tells me, he knows you’ll be there to take me as your wife in just a few weeks.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Roberts,” he says. “If you follow me, I’ll take you to your fiance.” I nod my head robotically and walk stiffly beside him through the double doors which had been sealed shut for what seemed an eternity. He leads me to a closed door and pauses before turning the handle. He studies my face as words pour from his mouth and I nod my head methodically, not hearing a syllable. All I can think of is you waiting on the other side, with that crooked grin you save just for me.
“Do you understand what I’ve told you ma’am?” the doctor asks.
“Of course,” I say, smiling weakly and he frowns slightly but finally opens the door. I rush inside and with one look at the bed I feel my stomach drop and the world spins around me.
Your skin is deathly pale, lacking the natural glow that always seems to surround you. Tubes and wires connect you to the many machines sitting nearby, almost as if you’re a human pin cushion. I move to take a step forward and feel my knees buckle. The doctor grabs me around the waist and leads me to the chair by your side. I sit down heavily and vaguely hear him mention that he’ll be back in a moment. It’s as if my entire world is collapsing in this one moment.
We’re completely alone now and I allow myself to really look at you. Your face is so peaceful, lacking the pain that’s twisted your handsome features for so long now. I wonder what you’re dreaming of, if you’re even dreaming at all. I reach a shaking hand out to touch you and cry out at how cold you are. I entwine my fingers through yours and squeeze hard, begging you silently to wake up and tell me how ridiculous I’m being. You always were the reasonable one, talking me down whenever I let my imagination get the better of me. However, the longer I sit there, the longer I listen to the sound of your heart monitor, the more I doubt what you said.
I feel a single tear slide down my cheek and bring our joined hands to my lips, pressing a kiss against your skin. The doctor is back now, followed by the nurses and their looks of idiotic compassion. As if they could possibly understand what is happening. He puts a hand on my shoulder and tells me it’s time. Time for what? I keep my eyes trained on your face, waiting to see those warm brown eyes of yours meet mine and sooth the pain away.
But your eyes stay shut and suddenly I hear the sound of your heart flat line. I watch as what little tension there was in your face fades into nothing. I watch the moment death lead you away from me. The nurses try to comfort me and lead me away, but I can’t leave you. I clutch your hand against my chest and feel my shoulders shake. There’s no stopping it this time. You’ve left me. You were my world, my everything and now I have nothing. The sobs wrack my entire body as I let go of the fight I had left. You told me you would always be here.