He had been lying still for such a long time. He hoped his damned leg wouldn’t cramp up now. It was too soon.
The chattering voices of nurses coming on duty floated in through the glass wall of his room. Soon his nurse would come in to check him. She had been there the night he’d come in. After the ambulance ride and bustling confusion of the emergency room, her gentle teasing and this darkened room had been soothing. Her smile reminded him a little of Mavis. Well, to be honest he saw a little of Mavis in most women. Especially since she had gone.
A faint green glow fought free of the monitors buried in the darkness above his head. The tracing faltered for just a moment, then resumed marking off his remaining life in measured paces. It must be nearly midnight. She would come in soon. He thought again about his bum leg, then forced the notion of leg cramps out of his head. Maybe if he didn’t think about cramps, they wouldn’t happen. At least not yet.
His long body lay unmoving between the smooth sheets. He closed his eyes and could see Mavis. The room was their kitchen at the old house and she was washing a sink full of dusty cucumbers fresh from the garden. She’d always marveled at how a man his size could move so quietly. It was no secret to him though. He’d explored every groaning board in that house from the time he’d been big enough to sneak into the kitchen or out to chase boyhood mischief on Halloween.
His approach through the kitchen was flawlessly silent. The pinch on her ample rump was followed by a shriek and a wild spray of water. Then Mavis was pelting him with the dripping cucumbers, driving him from the house. He could still remember laughing till he was too weak to stand. She had joined him in the grass, spluttering about a man his age being “too old for that kind of thing.”
Being alive didn’t feel that good anymore. It hadn’t since Mavis had left so suddenly. He’d never really thought about being old until she’d died. She had left him alone to finish getting old by himself and he missed her with the same fresh ache every day. They had been apart for too long.
But it wouldn’t be much longer, he thought, as the eerie green above him faltered again.
A shadow fell across his quiet legs. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling but he knew it was his nurse. She had told him she would be back tonight, and for just a moment he felt sorry that it would be her. The dim observation lights came on.
His nurse moved closer to the bed. “Will?”
Her voice was a little louder this time. Her warm hand touched his cool one.
She was next to the bed now and he heard the first hint of concern in her voice. Finally he could see her as she leaned over him. This time she shook his shoulder and called more loudly to him, as though to bring him back from wherever he’d gone.
“Will? Are you all right? Can you wake up?”
He could see her arm reaching for the lights poised on either side of his bed. It was going to have to be now . He gathered himself and drew a slow deep breath.
His nurse gasped and jumped back away from the bed. Mavis was right. He was getting too old for this sort of thing. His leg muscles became a hard knot, but he grinned anyway.