He waited for death.
It was a quiet wait, punctuated by the sound of the machine in the
corner which beeped every so often. The pain in leg which had let
him know he was alive when he woke up these past eleven years
was fading, so he had the impression that it wouldn't be long now.
He wished he knew what was next.
He opened a red-rimmed eye and peered out at his sterile hospital
room. It was a small room, with a single chair, a small TV on a swing
arm and a night table. It was otherwise empty. He had hoped it
wouldn't end like this since he'd been five: dying alone in a small
room, apparently forgotten. He'd been alone most of his life and
All his life he'd been a nice guy. He'd made friends easily, floating
through social circles, and been the man "in the know". And though
he'd seized a few opportunities business-wise, he'd never been
able to romantically. It was psychological. So he'd been single and
stayed single and laughed it off when asked, carousing with
cohorts, clubbing and party hopping to fill the space. But his home
always felt cold and empty when he arrived at the end of a night. It
was the same feeling no matter the house, even with "company",
because company was always temporary.
As the friends faded away with the responsibilities of life,
relationships, children... work, his circle became smaller and
smaller through no fault of his own. A week ago he’d felt a pain in
his side. He’d walked into the emergency room four days ago. It felt
like nobody had missed him.
The machine in the corner beeped and the nurse came in and
checked the readings. She was a pretty girl and if he had the
strength he might have smiled at her. She finished her cursory
inspection and he wondered if her life was happy. He'd spent most
of his making sure other people were happy. It was his nature and
despite his best efforts he had been unable to stop. He'd thought
once it was God's purpose for him, and now he was hoping to get
ask God himself if he had been right.
He wished someone; anyone really, was there now. He was too
tired to count ceiling tiles and so he tried to remember the good
times he'd worked so hard to have. He remembered a drink he'd
once had in an airport lounge. He remembered a piece of pie he'd
eaten when he was five. The feel of a suit he'd once owned. A New
Year's Party where he’d danced with a stranger. His favorite car of
the ones he’d owned. The satisfaction of earning his first paycheck.
The first time he saw her. The list was too short, his memory too
He wanted to feel uncomfortable but couldn't. He hoped God wasn't
too tall. He hoped when he reached wherever he was going he got
his appetite back.
He really wanted someone there. Just to stop by for a moment and
let him know he had mattered. Five minutes. Two minutes. He just
wanted to know that life hadn't just used him, that he hadn't been
just a cog, that he’d mattered to someone.
A tear escaped the corner of his eye and rolled back towards his
Sometime later a new nurse came by the check on him. Her feet
hurt and when her shift was over she'd have to buy groceries and
make sure one of the kids had given the dog its pill. Next week she
would have to get together some money for a birthday party and
call her sister about the insurance policy. She looked at this figure
lying there peacefully and checked the machine once again. She
made a notation on his chart and left as quietly as she'd come,
turning off the room light as she went.
He lay there in the dark alone and waited. Waited patiently, like
always, for death.