He blinked once. Twice. Straight ahead was an illuminating bright light. He could not find the source of it, so he justly assumed the most reasonable thought that came to mind. Am I…dead?, he wondered. Slowly, he turned to his right, squinting through the blinding light. After his surroundings finally settled before him, he realized that he was in a hospital room. He looked to his left and noticed an I.V. stand looming before him, supporting him not only health-wise but as a companion as well. He felt so lonely in such a white room, with curtains blocking the only passage to society. Now he remembered why he detested hospitals so much. The isolation they put one through, giving the least amount of attention possible, the horrible food that spawns from what he could only imagine is the kitchen from Hell. Sometimes he would even wonder if Hell was basically a hospital itself. He could simply imagine himself walking down the steps to the horror that was awaiting him at the bottom. Once at the bottom of the stairs, he’d see himself looking up at a huge neon sign saying, Welcome to Hell’s Ward. Then, as he entered the enormously intimidating rusty grey gates engraved with faces of despair, giant needles, and to top it off, a silver plate of food at the very center of it. He shuddered at the thought. As he looked to his right, he saw a female nurse with an outfit that would only be considered proper if it was Halloween. The nurse looked at him through exotic green eyes and a dangerous-looking syringe in her hands; the most unsettling part of it was when she pressed down on the syringe a little and a long squirt of who-knows-what streamed out and onto the floor. Finally she spoke, “Wake up Benjamin, wake uuuuup.” Without warning, his eyes snapped open and he found himself face-to-face with a male nurse, sweat streaming profusely down his face.
“Good morning Benjamin. We’ve been waiting for you to recover. This time it seemed like as if you wouldn’t make it, but alas, here you are.”
Benjamin groaned as he tried to lift himself up, so as to be more eye-leveled with the nurse. Once he accomplished that, he asked, “What do you mean this time? What exactly happened to me?”
The nurse responded in a wary voice, “Um, you just suffered another seizure, but this time it was extremely severe.”
“Will I… be okay?”
At that question the nurse looked away as he pondered on how to answer this tragic and yet innocent question. After moment of thinking, he looked at him directly in the eyes.
“Well Benjamin, although you might not have noticed, this last…incident affected your brain nerves to the extent in which not only have you lost a significant amount of your memories, but it as well cut back your time of living.”
Realization sunk slowly inside him as this last piece of information struck him, his world slowly collapsing. “So… are you saying that I will die soon? How much time left?”
“I deeply regret having to say ‘yes’ to your first question and as to your second well…I’d say about a week, if not, days.”
“I see,” Benjamin looked out the window for a lingering moment, “Do…any of my children know of this?”
The nurse looked at him with sad eyes, “You don’t remember, do you? Your two daughters died in a plane crash three years ago, although I’m glad to say your son is alive and well, but no, he just simply knows about the incident. He’s anxiously waiting for you in the lobby.”
Benjamin sighed deeply, “Can I see him, please?”
“Thank you. I greatly appreciate it.”
The nurse nodded at the gratitude and leaves the room to go notify the son.
Before Benjamin could reflect any longer at his predicament, the door bursts open as his son rushes in, anxiety and weariness shown across his young and handsome face. He was somewhat pale, with a hint of rosiness, which his father claims was from his mother, and he had jet black hair slicked back to match his business suit he always wore.
The young man, who was in his late twenties, exclaimed in a worried tone, “Dad! Are you okay?”
Benjamin looked at his son in the eyes, determined to be completely honest to him, and said, “David…to be honest…I don’t have much time left.”
A weird sensation crept over David, like when one gets the feeling that something bad is going to happen, and he asked hesitatingly, “…How much left?” Benjamin hesitated for he knew that this simple piece of information could affect David greatly, but he also knew that the longer he waited, the larger the wound would be.
“A week… Possibly days,” said Benjamin with sadness in his voice.
At this answer, David looked away, eyes watering up as he thought about all the things he wasn’t able to neither do nor experience with his dad. He thought he had so much time ahead of him to connect with his loving father, but now…now it’s too late.
“David, it’s okay, my time is up anyway.”
Tears now running swiftly down his face, David faced his father again, and mumbled, “But there is so much left to do.”
“I know son, I know. But come, so I can tell you all about my life and you will be able to pass it along to your children someday.” David sat alongside Benjamin on the small hospital bed.
“David, did you know back when you were a mere toddler, every time your mother and I went to kiss you goodnight, we would just look at you while holding each other, and deep inside, without having to utter a single word, we knew you would be special. It was truly a mesmerizing moment.”
“Dad, tell me what was mom like again, please.”
Benjamin chuckled hoarsely at that, “Son, your mother was an incredibly amazing person. I loved that woman to death. Every time I looked into her deep green-blue eyes, it reminded me the tranquility of the sea. Her laugh alone could turn the most rabid person to a cheerful fellow. Her personality was one of a kind, with her precious smile able to strike the hearts of anyone lucky enough to see it. And her hair…her hair was…I can’t remember her hair…David, I can’t remember my own wife’s hair!” He started sobbing uncontrollably as David instantly tried to comfort him and calm him down. David yelled out, “Nurse! Come quickly!”
The male nurse rushed in with Valium to calm Benjamin down. Once he did that, it only took seconds for Benjamin to calm down and fall into a deep sleep. And the nightmares began.
It started out as a beautiful Sunday; the sun was descending and all was well. The stunning orange sky was simply a spectacle to behold. Benjamin just sat at the bench by the placid lake, taking in the sight with his loved ones: his wife, his two daughters, his son, his parents, and his favorite dog, Seth. It was all he ever wanted. The one simple wish that he knew was close to impossible to achieve, yet here they were. He stood up and walked to the very rim of the lake, and picked up a flat rock from the ground. He looked at the rock in his hand as he twirled it between his fingers effortlessly. It was so smooth, so still, so…lifeless. As he was about to skip it across the lake, he looked back to see if his wife was watching. But when he did, she wasn’t there. Nobody was. Just him and him alone. Tears began to shimmer around the brim of his eyes as he let the rock fall from his hands and upon the ground with a gentle thud that would echo the emptiness in Benjamin’s heart. Instantly, he remembered that old riddle, the one his dad would always ask him. If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it…does it make a sound? Does it? DOES IT???!!!
Benjamin awoke moaning from the throbbing in his heart; however, this pain was not one that could be cured. It was one of those emotional aches that follows one even after death. One that haunts a person in his or her sleep as it did to Benjamin. One that is inescapable. To put it simple: a curse. He kept on moaning for hours, barely noticing the presence of his son and the nurses around him. He felt his time was approaching, but not yet. Not yet. And with that final thought, he fell into a deep slumber once again.
As the sun’s rays struck Benjamin in the face, he began to stir, slowly but surely waking up. He simply lay there, staring out the window, tears running silently down his face and unto his bed as a flock of birds flew by. Moments later, a smaller one was seen trying to catch up to the rest of the flock, but was unable to. As Benjamin watched the young bird, he began to reminisce his past.
He was eight years old at the time and lived with his parents and two brothers, both of them older than him. Every time his brothers would go do something fun, he would try to tag along but was never able to keep up with them. When they rode bikes, he would be left behind. When they played basketball, they wouldn’t pass him the ball. He felt like an outcast. Always trying to fit in but simply couldn’t. The feeling was always a bitter one. They would always look down on him, never regarding him as an equal being. This was a memory that always haunted him. For many years he thought himself unworthy. That was until he met his wife, Angelica, whom he would always call his Angel for she was as beautiful as one, moved with the grace of one, smiled like one. After he met her, life was perfect. It was finally his Golden Age.
I met her during a camping trip with my friends. She was a friend of one of my friend’s girlfriend. It was at the camp fire when I saw her true beauty, the gentle flames lighting her blissful face and radiating smile, and her charming personality was simply contagious. Whenever she laughed, I laughed. Whenever she smiled, I smiled. She cried, I cried. She was my significant other…
Awake once more, he looked down at the notorious Graves Complication watch that he kept in his pocket all the time to see how long he had been asleep. It was 3 o’ clock. He was alone once again. It was as if isolation was pursuing him relentlessly, making sure that he was unable to fill the black abyss in his heart. Not even one tiny bit.
He moaned in despair, not wanting to endure this torture any longer. He could now hear every tick of the watch as each passing second came and went, Death eagerly but patiently waiting for him. Somehow, deep inside, he knew this would be his last night alive, but before he could die, he had to see his son for one last time. He took the service control and began pressing the button several times. After what seemed like forever, a nurse emerged from the hallway.
“Is something wrong Benjamin?”
He looked out the window briefly at the sun that was slowly descending, and after a deep breath, he replied, “…I would like to see my son.”
The nurse’s face was full of questions, but he nevertheless obliged.
“Very well, I’ll bring him right up.”
Moments later, the nurse returned with David at his side. David slowly approached his father, not knowing what to do or say. As he got closer, his father reached out with his shaking hand, his eyes moist from the impending tears. David instantly grabbed his father’s hand and held on to it tightly, as if he was afraid that if he let go the hand would disappear.
“Yeah?” concern evident on his face.
Benjamin gave a deep sigh before he continued, “Do not make the same mistakes as I did. Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dreams, and most importantly…do not put work first. Family should be your top priority throughout your entire life. That is my greatest regret. Not having spent enough time with you, Lisa, and Emily. Now I don’t have much time left, but I would like to spend the rest of it with my loving son. With you.” With that said, a warm smile spread across his face…his last one.
Tears began streaming down David’s face, “Whatever you say, Dad.” And in one last embrace, Benjamin let out his final breath. But in that instant in which he was still conscious, many memories, images, emotions passed through his mind. First, an image of him, his wife, his two daughters, and his son posing for a picture. Happiness seen clearly across their faces. It was a moment he’ll never forget. Then, as it slowly faded away, a new image emerged. He was at a funeral…his daughters’ funeral, and as he looked around, everybody dressed in the most depressing color in existence, black; he could feel the sorrow around him. He then looked at the two grave marks, side by side, and read what they said:
Lisa Kedlon Emily Kedlon
February 17, 1982 – July 3,2009 July 4,1974 – July 3, 2009
“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet”
He looked away as he could not bear this sight any longer. Once again, it faded away…kind of like life. He then realized that no matter what, life goes on. If he dies, life won’t simply stop. Even if no one is around when the tree falls, it nonetheless makes a sound. A sound that will reverberate through the entire forest from its grand fall.
If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Yes, it does…