Trigger Warning: The following fictional story contains vivid descriptions of grief and may be difficult for some to read.
Maybe if I'd been honest with you, you would have stayed. Maybe if I'd been honest with myself, I would have tried harder to hold onto you. And maybe then... you'd have stayed just one more hour. And maybe that one hour would have been enough. Maybe then the traffic would have been lighter. And maybe the roads would have been a little dryer, a little less slick.
Or maybe you would've decided it was too late to go at all. I would have made you coffee, and you would've sat in the corner, signing me sweet nothings and inside jokes until I locked the cafe doors. Then maybe we would sit together on the patio, silently speaking until the morning came.
Maybe then I wouldn't be sitting here, staring at the steady blinking of this heart monitor, trying not to look down at your expressionless face and body frozen in perpetual stillness.
Lately, that's all I think about.
Maybe this, maybe that.
I don't know which is worse. The "maybes" of regret... or of hope.
Maybe... just maybe you will squeeze my hand this time. Maybe you will open your eyes. Maybe, just maybe... you will come back to me.
Maybe... I will one day no longer torment myself with "maybes."
Maybe the soft stillness of this room will become a cozy to me, a shelter from the outside world and its obsession with chaos and necessity. The unceasing need to hurry from one meaningless task to another as though a life hangs in the balance.
Do any of us learn on our own? Do we ever take the lesson of common sense and run with it, or take to heart the bitter experience of others, seeing the potential for the suffering to be our own?
No. We are a slow learning species. For all our advancements and leverage over the other kingdoms, we sure adapt slowly. Apes beating our chests and pounding our steering wheels in the lazily falling sun, never taking note of the pace of the natural world.
Rush hour traffic is her attempt to tell us to slow down. But her irony is lost on us. Rushing here and rushing there, never thinking that the traffic would move more readily if we lifted our feet from the pedal on the right and tapped the left ever so slightly to enjoy the passing scenery.
Was it a rubbernecker that got you, my love? I heard there was an accident just a few moments before your own. Was that what turned her head from the lane in front of her? Or was it her phone? Was she talking or texting? Or simply twisting the knob on her stereo? Please tell me she wasn't looking in the mirror, my dearest. Tell me at least it wasn't such simple and vacuous vanity that stole you away.
We're so quick to blame the late night drunk drivers, falling so sloppily and happily into the seat of stupidity. But do we stop to think about the responsible people of the world? The diligent and devoted of the world. The always on time and perfectly pressed. Are we all just sheep, lining up each morning and every evening in the obscurity that only traffic can provide?
Do you think there will ever be enough? Maybe one day, we will just decide... No more. Maybe not, though, right? Maybe it's her turn to learn the lesson only experience can teach.
Do you think she will learn it? Maybe. I saw her leaving as I arrived. I didn't know at first. Just another grief-stricken family member, mascara smearing her face, jittery hands and trembling legs being helped to one of the parked cabs at the corner. I felt bad for her. Before I knew.
Before the nurse told me it was her. Before they told me she was hysterical the whole time. Would you believe she was more worried about missing work than nearly killing you?
I can't help but hate her. I know what you'd say. You'd tell me to forgive her. To let it go and focus on myself. On you. But how can I when she will get to go home to her family tonight? She'll tell them about the inconvenience of it all. And tomorrow, she'll line up in that same traffic, maybe she'll leave a few minutes earlier... maybe she'll have learned something. Maybe...
Maybe the beeping monitor will speed up, and your fingers will wrap around my own. And maybe your eyes will flutter open, and we will share a smile and a kiss once more. Maybe then I can forgive her. Maybe...
Or maybe the stained and peeling wall I can't pull my eyes from will hold my gaze for the years to come. Until it's no longer through desperation and hope that I sit by your side and hold your hand, waiting for those fingers of yours to wrap around my wrist.
Maybe those fingers that stole my heart as they signed "I love you" for the first time will be wrinkled and twisted when my desperation turns to resentment and my hope to bitter resignation? Not from life lived and words signed but from atrophy and idle degeneration.
Will you still want me to forgive her then? When the love we once shared, so full of laughter and passion has turned to obligation and disappointment... When those fingers that once filled me with love and adoration become something obscene... Maybe then this hatred I feel for her will be justified even to you. Maybe...
Or maybe our hands will age together, our fingers intertwined. Maybe the lines that mar our fingers will be mirrors of the multitude of conversations we've shared. A lifetime of silent communication twisting our fingers into the same ravaged pieces of flesh still pressed tightly together. Maybe then I won't even think of her, when decades of love and laughter have filled the whole she left in my heart when she pushed you so far away from me. Maybe...
My feet curl beneath me into this vinyl chair, my knees pressing into my chest as I stare at your face. My fingers gently tug at yours, begging them to flex against my palm the way they used to. Maybe if I hold your hand long enough, you will use them to speak to me once more.
The nurses keep telling me to speak to you. Let you hear me. They don't understand I have been the whole time. Do you hear me, my love?
I draw an "X" across your palm. Do you feel it? Our secret code. I could swear your finger twitched. Did the monitor beep faster for just a brief moment?
Maybe you hear me, wherever you are...
Maybe you'll come back to me...
Maybe one day my mind will let go of "maybe"...
Maybe this, maybe that...
Lately, it's all I can think about. But maybe just for today...
I'll let hope win.
About the Creator
Alaskan Grown Freelance Writer 🤍 Lover of Prose
Former Deckhand & Barista 🤍 Always a Pleaser & Eggshell-Walker
Lifelong Animal Lover & Whisperer 🤍 Ever the Student & Seeker
Traveler 🤍 Dreamer 🤍 Wanderer
Happily Lost 🤍 Luckily in Love
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Heartfelt and relatable
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