Alas, I am dying beyond my means.
I hear the doctor's voice reverberate through the empty hallway of the hospital. Third floor, I think to myself absently, judging by the bricklaying pattern and the general coolness of the place despite the multiple heaters they had placed quite stupidly in the warmest parts of the room, doing nothing for the draft that whispers softly underneath the headrest of my cot.
The doctor's words are indistinguishable but I already know what he is saying. Sorry, but no. You have come too late. There is no way we can operate on him. He is slowly dying. Disappearing. You can go in and say your goodbyes. I can hear several sounds in response to his statement. A sob. A bang. A clatter. Silence.
When the door opens, I am momentarily overwhelmed by the small crowd in the room. Four. Four have come to my funeral when I have made it my life's mission to drive people away. They stall upon seeing me. I know I look... looked intimidating before, my height and coat hiding away my many insecurities. They used to be afraid of me. Not they are scared, too, but not because of me, for me. They fear for my life. The thought feels strangely comforting and I manage to pull the right corner of my mouth upwards. It takes too much out of me, the energy I had seeping from under my skin even quicker now.
The sob approaches me first. She gives me a sad smile and cards her withered fingers through my hair. Tears stain her sullen cheeks and for a moment I feel like apologizing. For being the way that I am. Was. I lean into her touch, trying to say what I need to. She understands. With a nod, she lets out another sob, an experienced sound by now. First her husband, now myself. Both lost because of me. Her frail hands pull away, and as the door clicks shut I know I have said my goodbye to my home.
The bang doesn't linger. He does not know what to say. Before, I have been a good comrade in arms. I helped. I advised. He listened. Now, as I couldn't talk, he was lost. Out of his depth. Which is always, I think to myself impishly. He does not approach the bed or reach out to touch me. We have known each other for years. We were never close enough to say goodbye at each other's deathbeds. The door makes a louder noise when he exits and at that moment I know I have said my goodbye to my work.
The clatter says nothing. Does nothing. He stares at me impassively before taking a breath and nodding. I can see that tomorrow our mother will know. Just like him, she will not cry. She will be swift about the arrangements and by the end of the day, her will shall have been rewritten to accommodate only one son. He twirls his umbrella between his aging fingers which are already showing the signs of arthritis and salutes me in that certain way only he can: with an indifferent twitch of the eyebrow and a small smile at the very corner of his mouth. He exits and I know I have said my goodbye to my family.
I can feel my mind start to slip as Silence approaches me, slowly, tentatively. A chair is brushed forward and he sits down by my side. His fingers find mine and they slip together like puzzle pieces. I turn my head to study them. Long and dexterous versus short and strong. My eyes travel up to his face, which has turned gray with the hospital light. A smile touches my lips and now it feels almost effortless. As if I have always been meant to smile at him as I lay dying. As if I were made for happiness, inexplicable and foolish, while life poured out of me steadily, slinking away down the dark corridors and escaping through the open window into the cool London night, as he watched on.
He gives my hand a squeeze and I become mesmerized by the luminosity of his eyes. I have seen many eyes. Live ones, dead ones. Green ones, blue ones, brown ones, even red ones. I have never seen eyes like his. The color was quite common. The almost wolfish sadness, though, was unique only to him.
He breathes heavily as if he were the one lying on the cot and lets out a strangled little sound. Like a laugh, only not quite. I can see that he has been preparing for this moment ever since he calculated with his medical mind that I had not much time left. I can also see that he is lost. I know he will be lost for quite some time now, as I will not be there to maneuver him around every day of civilian life. I understand he will attempt to do something foolish before giving up. He will move on as best as he is able to. He will marry. Have a child or two. Work a mundane job before succumbing to old age. He will not suffer my fate.
I can see that together with myself, he is silently bidding farewell to his youth, as I am robbing him of it. His days of excitement are finally over. Just so. I am mercilessly taking away the only thing that is keeping him sane. He hates me for it.
The only thought that comforts me is that he loves me more.
As my vision gets blurrier and my thoughts start to intertwine, creating vivid, confusing images of what was and what could have been, I feel pressure on my lips. He can finally do it. The one thing he had never been able to do. He supposes it doesn't matter now that I am going. He is wrong. He will not have to live with this for the rest of his life. This regret. He has said it. I cannot as my mouth refuses to move. I put as much emotion as I can behind my eyes and I can see that he understands.
He always does.
"We've had some good times," he whispers softly and I give him a feeble smile. My fingers slacken in his hold.
As darkness envelopes me and the only thing I feel is his touch rooting me to this Earth, as I draw my last breath and feel his arms fold around me one last time, I know I have said goodbye to my heart.