THE LAST BREATH
Lifeless. Not a spark in his eye. Not a movement of his face or body. I bit my lip. God, why?
“Open the door.” I was tired of looking through a one-sided window. Looking at monitors.
“Ma’am, he’s contaminated, if you go in there you’ll–”
“Open the door.” I said again.
The doctor sighed. “Alright. Just remember: you’re putting your own life at risk here.”
I glanced through the window at the man lying on the cot. “I’m already dying, Doctor.”
The door slid open and I stepped through. The white featureless walls glowed with ambient light. Tucked into one corner was the cot. On it, my fiancé. Aidan. I walked across the small room, my shoes making a quiet clicking sound on the cold floor. I knelt beside the cot and touched his hand. It was cold.
I leaned forward and kissed his fingers. Pressed them against my cheek. Held his hand until I fell asleep.
A high pitched beep woke me up. A computer screen by the door was flashing. I blinked. My eyes focused.
Are you ready to leave?
“I’m not leaving.”
The screen blanked.
“Because, Doctor, he is the most important thing in my life.”
He’s going to die. Move on.
I ignored the screen, the window. I gently lifted Aidan and sat down at the head of the cot. I held him close, letting his body rest on my lap, but I held his head to my chest. I closed my eyes. All I could see was him running around. Laughing. Smiling. I trembled, my body shaking. It hurt so much. But I couldn’t get away from the memories.
Tears stung my eyes as I gently nuzzled his hair. It smelled like cinnamon. It always smelled liked cinnamon.
Cinnamon. He loved cinnamon. He smelled like it. He even tasted like it.
I squeezed my eyes shut. That first kiss…
A knock at the glass. They had turned the polarization off.
“Yvonne. Please. Come out of there before you catch the virus. You might have it already, but… come out before its too late.” The doctor was standing with two men in black suits.
I looked away and stroked Aidan’s face. Caressed his lips with my fingers.
“I’m not going anywhere.” I whispered. “I’ll stay here forever. Until you go, my love. When you go… I… go.”
“But not until then.” I looked up and glared at the doctor. “Not until then.”
The window glazed over again, becoming white, just like the walls.
I rocked slowly back and forth. Sang softly his favorite song.
“Stars shine bright… this night… don’t know how… or when…”
The doctor. The suits. No one. None of them could ever understand. They would never feel the ache that crashed against my heart, wave after wave. Agony. Helplessness.
Why Aidan? Why him?
I tried took a deep, though quivering, breath.
Over six billion people in the world. And the one dying right now… is the only one I have ever loved.
“But here we are… never should have been… but who cares… not me… and I pray not you…”
I looked into Aidan’s eyes. They never closed. I had closed them once. But they had slowly opened again. Stayed open.
There was nothing in his eyes. Nothing.
The ache in my heart reminded me of how much used to be there.
I placed my hand on his chest. I could feel his heartbeat. Barely. Each time his heart beat, it seemed that it was a fraction longer before the next each time.
It had stopped. His heart. I lay still, my head resting against his chest. No.
Beat, heart. Beat.
My own heart beat faster. But it hurt. It felt like it was caving in. Like my chest was constricting, crushing it.
“No.” I whispered, tears flowing out from under my closed eyelids.
I sat up. No longer did his chest rise and fall with each labored breath.
No more did his heart beat, ever so slow, but still ever so much alive.
His eyes were closed.
I stood. Staggered to the door. I was weak. I didn’t know how long it had been. Several days at least, since I forced the doctor to let me in. Several days since Aidan had said he had a headache.
I slumped against the wall by the door. “He’s gone.” I whispered.
The door slid open.
The doctor grabbed me. He wore a contamination suit. So did the nurses who were heading for Aidan’s body.
They had a stretcher.
I knew what they would do. I had to stop them. I couldn’t let them burn his body, destroy his ashes with some chemical. I had to stop them.
I struggled against the doctor’s grip, trying to jump forward, to run. But I couldn’t.
“No! You can’t do that to him!”
A prick. I looked down at my arm. A needle. I followed it up to the syringe. To the hand. To the doctor.
And passed out.