EVERYONE DIES IN THE END
by Michael A. Donovan
I sit in my room, in the nursing home - this small eight-by-ten feet room being my house. I am doing what I do every day here: sitting, waiting - for what? I don't know; death, maybe. I hear someone outside my room, a shadow appearing under the door. The bronze door handle pushes itself down from my point-of-view. The door swings my way, fastly, the air sends loose pages floating around my room. In walks a nurse in an all-white outfit, blue stitchings around the edges of the lapels, top of the sleeves, and collars keep people from becoming disorientated from the blinding whiteness of the garment. The nurse approaches me, leaning over my shoulder: "Mr. Jameson," she whispers in my ear, "you have a visitor."
She then waves someone in - a woman, who sits-down infront of me on a chair set behind her by a different nurse, still, quiet; she visits me on this day every year; says something about a dead girl - her sister, from what I gather. We sit, motionless.
"She would have been fifteen today," she brakes the silence. "Do you remember? do you? How we - you, she, I - how we used to go to MacDonald's every Saturday. Or have you forgotten?" She remains silent, maintaining a stationary position, her right-eye glistening as a tear forms, then, rolls slowly down her cheek, moving down to her trembling lip and meandering around it, falling to the top of her breast, the droplet leaves a dark-red circle on her red blouse.
"Look at you now!" she exclaims. "You deserve this. But she.... she didn't deserve to die. She didn't need to die." Her sentiments similar to that of the previous year.
She remains seated. Staring at me. I don't know what to do. I can't tell her to leave, I can't throw her out, I can do nothing but sit here and watch her watch me. I wonder to myself: does she have the wrong person? Has she mistaken me for someone else? I wonder this every-year, but even then she returns the next.
She reaches into her pocket - and, in her hasty retrieval of this
particular item, pulls out a photograph. "Look what I have found
in the attic," she says. She holds up a picture of three people
standing together, smiling. Behind them stood a tall oak. The
picture was old, very old. Two small girls, one appearing younger
than the other, the other girl looks like the woman who sits
before me, the third person - a man - looks like me; it is me.
And - memories flood my brain - those that were once lost - and I
see all. I'm pushed back by my sudden suprise. The oxygen tank
that keeps me breathing is knocked-over by my wheelchair. The
tube in my nose slips out my nostril, pulled down with the
canister of oxygen. I struggle to grasp a breath of air. I look
at the woman, I look at the tank - trying to gesture her to help
me with my eyes. She: motionless, ignoring my need for help. My
vision turns black; memories flood my mind as if the banks of my
brain-damage burst - and I, seeing all that was lost: my
daughters, Heather - who sits before me - and Allanah, the
younger girl in the photograph; their mother dying of cancer; the
alcoholism I developed soon-after. And, that faithful day, that
fatal day, I drove Allanah to some place - my whiskey-filled
vains - crashed and hit an oak tree. She: dead instantaniously;
I: damaged beyond repair. We all died that day!