Counting Your Last Breaths

We have a new comer on the website, Shaima AlShaikh who wished to share her first submission for the March theme “The Wait”. This is an example of short stories, despite its length can have characters that effect us greatly and we can grow attached to them.

I vaguely stared at the defibrillator from afar as they jabbed electrical charges through my husband’s chest. “Breath Mohammed!” I screamed through the window, as if the intensity of my voice would break through glass and awaken him from this ebbing state. “Don’t you die on me” I disparaged.

I watched as they swiftly moved from one side to the other, working on my husband as if he were a plaything artefact. They cut his chest open, and forced a pipe down his throat. I couldn’t see what they were doing, but I knew that it wasn’t pleasant.

I remembered the last time we’ve been here in the City Hospital, “The tumour has spread, I’m afraid your husband doesn’t have much time” the doctor said.
“How long?” I demanded.
“Six months “He said. 
“Is there anything we can do?” I retorted. 
“You can only wait”. “Wait for him to die” these words fell heavy on my heart, I couldn’t let him know that he only had six months to live, I wouldn’t let him know, I didn’t want him to spend what’s left of his life in fear, I was determined to make these six months the best.

I watched as the steady green line on the Electro Cardio Graphy began to form small hills and valleys, I examined the fragile body of my husband. I stared at his skinny body and bold scalp, at his worn out fingers and blue nails. He was still handsome to me, he was still the man that went against his family’s will and married me, the same guy that I’ve been in love with for six amazing years. He was my best friend, my soul mate, my childhood buddy. We grew up together, I’ve heard him cry, I’ve seen him fall apart, I held him high, and I made him smile. Mohammed. He was indeed every little thing I could ever ask for, and he was being taken away from me.

“How is he doctor?” I asked as the doctor stripped his hands from the bloody gloves. 
“My deepest condolences” he said, “I’m afraid your husband has a few hours left” he bowed his head almost as if in disgrace and left me with my demons.

I poked my head through the opening of the door and eyed my husband. “Why are you standing there silly? Get your small butt in here” he teased, I blushed at him “You don’t have the right to talk about my butt! You and your man boobs” I laughed. And it was then that my world fell apart. My husband broke down into tears; I rushed to his side and wrapped my arms around his neck. It felt so warm, so secure, like I was created to hold him in my arms. “I can’t leave you” he sobbed. “I only just married you”. I kissed his teary eyes and held his face between my hands.

It was on June 18th that my husband came back home and locked himself in the room. He refused to talk to me. I begged him countless times to open the door; I spent the entire day by the door, just waiting for him to tell me what happened. When it was time for Fajir prayer, he opened the door; he had a few bags packed, my bags. 
“Go now, back to your mother’s house” his voice was breaking.
“Why, what did I do? Is it my smell? Maybe the way I do my hair, if it’s my cooking just give me some time and I’ll ace it” I whispered, I held his hands in mine and stared at his enormous feet, “I love you”.
He knelt and hugged me tight, “It’s not your smell, I love your smell, nor is it your terrible cooking and don’t you dare talk about your beautiful hair” he paused, “I’m dying” his voice cracked. I couldn’t believe what he was saying, what kind of stupid joke was he pulling?
“Don’t play jokes on me stupid” I said furiously
“I am dying Shatha” He said firmly. My head was so confused, I was completely perplexed, I didn’t know what to think or feel, I just knew that I didn’t want to leave him, not after all we’ve been through. I wanted to spend every possible second with him. 
 My hands found their way to his face, I rested my small ebony hands on his round huge face, Mohammed was thrice my size.
“You think I’d leave you cause you’re dying?” I asked.
“I want you to leave me, I want you to move on. I don’t want you to watch me die” he stared down at my eyes, I loved the way his eyes rested on mine, that immoderate feelings that rushed down my spine every time he looked at me was simply inhumane. 
“It’s not up to you, I’m staying, whether you like it or not” I insisted. 
“You wanna fight huh?” He smiled.
“You bet” I said, taking two steps away from him, I knew what followed. He attacked me and thrashed me up in the air, he placed me on his shoulders and twirled, he then threw me on the bean bag we purchased from Global Village and tickled me till I had no more breath in me. We laughed so much that day, but when the night came, he held me tight and we cried.

I timed the lub-dub of his fading heart on the Electro Cardio Graphy with the beats of my own heart, his beats were falling behind. “This is not goodbye” I repetitively whispered to him, “I promise you, I’ll see you again”. My words drew a smile on his pale face; he squeezed my hands with all the strength he could collect. He watched my tears as they escaped my brown eyes and carved their way down my cheeks; he gazed upon me in the exact same manner as he did on our wedding night; with eyes full of lust and love, as if I was all he had, all that he will ever need, and without him needing to utter a word, I heard exactly what he saying. In less than 30 seconds, a long aching BEEP dug an abyss in my heart; a line was drawn on the Electro Cardio Graphy. He was gone. “I love you too”. I cried and kissed his lips for the last time.


Shaima Abdulla AlShaikh


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