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The Coward Texts

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Chapter 7: My Words Get In My Way

'Cause its always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said

So I speak to you in riddles
'Cause my words get in my way
I smoke the whole thing to my head
And feel it wash away
'Cause I can't take anymore of this
I want to come apart
Or dig myself a little hole
Inside your precious heart                                          



The ebb and flow of conscious reason is completely lost on you as your brain struggles to function on 5 hours of sleep over the course of 72. You are a doctor, you know that your body and your mind are slowly shutting down, shutting you out. Making your ability to form a complete thought damn near impossible.

You keep reading the texts, all 503 of them. Like somehow that makes her not in a coma. Your eyes feel like sandpaper and you have gone through 2 bottles of Visine, just so you can keep reading them over a over again. Slowly torturing yourself beyond reason.

Sweetheart?’ your subconscious lightly treads.

Don’t you sweetheart me. I know what you want and I am NOT getting more sleep.

Pretty soon, you won’t have a choice. Your body is shutting down. It will crash and then you are going to be all kinds of pissed off at how long you actually DO sleep.

But what if she wakes up?

What if she doesn’t.

Stop it. Steve said she was calling for me before I came. That means she was conscious in some form.

Sweetie, you know as well as I do that-

No. No doctor speak.

Ok. Just close your eyes. Just for a little while. Recharge.

I wrote that letter...had it all figured out...then this... you sleepily mumble.

I know, I know. Sleep...

Dear Gail,

I knew, that night in my bathtub that I was going to love you. It wasn’t a choice really. I didn’t know if we could handle it. If i could handle it. I didn’t know where it would go. And so we held on tight – to eachother – and said ‘no expectations’. And in return I got all the passion and sincerity I had been waiting for my whole life. You were like the warmest hug that makes your knees weak. You surrounded me with a love I had never known. You Pecks, you love big.

And I know I ended it. I left. I insisted that I leave. We talked it over and over again and I don’t know if you’ll ever understand why. My voice and words told you things that my eyes and heart didn’t. But if I voiced how desperately I wanted your love, I would have never left and you would never have called upon the strength inside – that I always knew was there-and spend time on your new identity.

I am so much better for your love. But we parted after that fateful night at the Penny, and in that parting, it somehow became not our time anymore. We couldn’t focus on us, you + me, and it had to end. This is your time and my time, not our time. I miss you terribly. But please know, that when I said go, I never meant goodbye.

Thank you for the dance. I love you, so very much. Never doubt that. Holly


Your phone buzzes and you jump. Groggily swiping the screen, you see its a reminder for a meeting you were scheduled to attend in an hour. Or was it 2 hours ago with the 3 hour time difference? Did your phone automatically revert to Toronto time once you were out of the air? Too many thoughts...your brain is running around itself in circles. Like a track with too many runners. Your fingers push into your temples as you regain your bearings.

Someone had come while you were asleep, because you had a blanket, that looked kind of hand-made, draped over you...Chloe. Your eyes flutter closed again, seemingly of their own volition. Broken sequences of her text messages dancing under your eye lids.

‘You can’t be here like this Holly. In my mind.’

‘Its like watching an accident in slow motion. I know, for the first few seconds, after I wake up, that I won’t see it. Won’t see it coming. But by the time I roll over to shut off the alarm, there you are. And there’s no time to swerve. No time to stop. And the impact, its hard and unforgiving. My chest hurts and my breath constricts.’

‘But there is no ambulance coming. No one to bring me pain medication so I can be more comfortable.’

‘There is just this day, stretching out in front of me, without you in it.’


‘Cheese puff hiding places. I bet you still never found them all, even after packing up your entire place. New tenant is going to have a field day if they ever open up the return air duct in your bathroom.’

‘Or the attic...cheese puffs falling from the sky!’

‘Chloe is staring at me. I think I just giggled. But it was funny. The image of some new tenant getting assaulted in the face by an avalanche of cheese puffs!’


‘Its raining here. Does it rain alot there? We use to love rainy nights. Hot chocolate, junk food...nakedness.’

‘Remember that time you thought I had actually gone down on your with a cheese puff still in my mouth?’

‘It might have been the most un-romantic thing you ever said to me! “Gail Peck! Get your still chewing, cheese puff dusty mouth off of me.”’

When you awoke, your eyes immediately focused on the open cheesepuffs bag on Gail’s bed side table. You had reasoned, that if anything was going to bring Gail around, it was the smell of a fresh bag of cheese puffs. You had also reasoned, that should Gail awake whilst you were either not there or asleep, you would know. The bag would be moved, eaten, or somehow other wise tampered with.

So each day you made the trip to the floor below and bought a bag of cheese puffs. One day you ran out of change. Of course you did, you hadn’t left the hospital. Where were you suppose to get change? Some nurse found you sobbing into the vending machine and took pity on you. Muttering something about people and their weird obsessions with food as she walked away. You made a point to locate an onsite change machine, shortly after returning to her room with your take.

‘Fresh bag?’ Steve said by way of greeting when he entered and caught you staring at the open, untouched, bag.

‘No. Not yet. Didn’t want to leave her alone.’

‘I’ll sit. You go get one. Any change?’

‘No.’ You flatly say as leave to walk the familiar route to the cheese puffs.

Wait, did he mean any change in Gail or did she need any change for the vending machine? It didn’t really matter, the answer was the same.

Alone. You felt so alone.

Solitude can heal. Solitude can teach. And solitude can destroy.

Where are you Gail? My doesn’t beat right without you.