Thursday, October 20, 2011


John rested his hands on the hospital-standard, white porcelain sink. Sweat dripped down his face and soaked the collar of his shirt, yet his mouth remained dry. He searched for something to drink out of, but the only thing in sight were the urine sample cups stacked neatly on the shelf. Considering it for only a moment, he spun back around and collapsed on the toilet.
In his pocket, John’s phone vibrated. It’s Kurt again. He placed his hand on the bulge his phone made from under his jeans and held it there for a moment. I should tell him I won’t be going tonight, but... His thoughts drifted to the game. His favorite baseball team was embroiled in a pennant race with their most heated rivals, and Kurt had paid nearly double face-value for the tickets so they could go. I should have him just sell the damn thing, but what if we get out of here soon? Couldn’t I just sneak out for a couple hours?
Once his phone stopped vibrating, he pulled it out of his pants and shut it off. I can’t even think about leaving. What kind of a man, what kind of a husband, does that make me?
He stood up and looked down at one of his own legs. How the hell could could something this important to human life be so fragile. He shifted his weight to his right and started to fall before he caught himself on the wall of the bathroom. Tears ran down his cheeks once again.
What kind of life is she going to have? How will we hike Yosemite next summer? Our apartment doesn’t even have an elevator. How will she come back home? We’ll have to move out, and that’s going to cost more money. God only knows how much this is going to cost in the end. The ambulance ride alone was probably more than either of us makes in a week.
“I can’t do it.” he whimpered. “I can’t let them take your leg.” John slapped his hand against the tile wall and looked up at the motivational poster on the wall. It featured some guy in racing wheelchair. He scoffed at it for a second, but took a step back and read his number bib. He was racing in the Boston Marathon.
“She can still do it. Her dream doesn’t have to die.” he whispered. John faced the mirror, and stared at his reflection with the wheelchair racer behind him. “It will be hard, but we can do it.”
He walked out of the bathroom and towards his wife’s bed. Two of the doctors were still attending to her. She was unconscious, as she had been since the accident. They didn't notice John, even after he said, “I have an answer.” He spoke louder. “I said I’ve reached a decision.”
The older doctor looked up from his chart. “What did you decide?”
“If you amputate, like you said, will it really give her a better chance of surviving?” He nodded. “And she could use one of those racing wheelchairs?”
“Of course. There is a whole range of athletic opportunities for her, even with one good leg. We might even be able to fit a prosthetic.”
“Then do whatever you think is best.”
John leaned over to his wife’s bloodied and swollen body, kissing her on the forehead. “I think this is for the best. I hope that someday, you’ll understand.”

Let me know what you thought in the comments below. As always, I appreciate constructive criticism MUCH more than the basic 'good job' one...but those are still nice too :)


Sulci Collective October 21, 2011 at 2:48 AM  

A terrible decision to have to make on a loved one's behalf. Couldn't imagine myself in such a situation how I'd handle it

marc nash

Adam B October 21, 2011 at 5:46 AM  

I was wondering where this was going and was surprised with the reveal, but it felt natural. It would be a decision I could not imagine myself being in.
Adam B @revhappiness

FARfetched October 21, 2011 at 11:52 AM  

Well-paced slice of life here. Such a dramatic decision to make, not knowing if she'll resent his choice. I'm left wondering about the accident that led to this, though, why he's okay and she's broken.

I can't imagine anyone in that situation trying to decide whether to go to the ballgame, though. Not even the most rabid sports fan who cares about his wife as deeply as John does would think twice about telling Kurt to sell the other ticket. Kurt would understand.

Steve Green October 21, 2011 at 4:07 PM  

I think that sometimes when the human mind is faced with the reality of a horror like this, it will scrabble to find something trivial (By comparison)to dwell on, in the subconscious hope that it may all just "Go away". So John's thoughts about the game, and the negativity concerning the elevator, the costs, etc seem quite valid at the time.

One thing I was unsure about though. This sentence.. "He shifted his weight to his right and started to fall before he caught himself on the wall of the bathroom."

Has John got something wrong with one of his own legs?

Chuck Allen October 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM  

Making decisions for someone else - someone you love - would be a hard thing. I liked his distraction with the game and his momentary consideration of still attending. It showed his confusion and desire to avoid the choice at hand.

Helen October 22, 2011 at 1:39 AM  

I was wondering what was wrong with the guy, then it all became clear. This was a nicely paced piece and a nice bit of misdirection to start with. The ending was just perfect. You allowed the reader to step into his shoes and feel the trauma he felt trying to make a decision like this. You captured that sense of loss and hope very well.

I found a typo for you " How the hell could could something" two coulds are better than one ^__^

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