i was about to die. i lay in my death bed. my dear wife was tearing. my children stood by my side, even though it was not like they cared. in my younger days, i made a wish. a wish that will let me
continue to walk the earth...


A old man laid in his death bed. He had river-sliver hair, brumous eyes, his face was creased like vellum. That man was me. I was about to part the world I so solemnly dread yet, I still felt compelled to continue my life, day by day.

“He will, in two days, die”, the doctor stated.

My sons and daughters curved their lips to a frown. Even so, no matter how good their acting was, I knew they felt immeasurable content on hearing this news for when I pass on, will they receive my wealth through my will.

My wife, dominated by a profound sadness, fatigue engraved on her worn face. The sorrow grew more and more profound +every minute she stared at me. For years, I was all she had. Now? I would leave her, alone and abandoned.

Pathos filled the cold air of the room. There was a certain saturninity.

“Not today”, I said.

“Yeah dad, we know. Not today but two days later”, my son remarked.

“Now, get your old man a book to read from my collection back at home”, I requested, ignoring the previous comment.

“So you rather spend your last moments with a book than your flesh and blood?” my daughter questioned.

I nodded my head, implying a yes. Reluctantly, Lysette, my daughter, set out the hospital to pick up a book from my shelves of books.

Hours past did Lysette return.

“Ah. Lizzy, good job. You brought me some William Blake. 1908.”

My daughter rolled her eyes and handed me the book. A classic, A Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

“You know, when you cease to live, if anywhere, you will be going to hell”, my daughter said.

“Glad you know. And for your information, I will see you there in time”, I said in response.

Lysette left the room and so did the rest of my kith and kin. For this, I started my read.

Seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned to hours did I finish reading. Alas, I turned in for the night.

The next morning I awoke to find my wife sobbing uncontrollably on my shoulder.

“Dear, stop tearing. You knew this day would come honey”, I attempted to placate Bethanie.

“You just don’t get it do you? If I was in that bed and not you, could you hold back your tears?”

I shook my head. To this, we bear-hugged.

Bethanie reached her hand into her handbag and pulled out a book. Independence day! That’s a timeless classic.

Soon after, my offspring entered the premises of the room. Seeing this as an opportunity to read more manuscripts before I breathe my last.

“Vere. Do me a favour and bring me a dozen books from my collection tomorrow if you may.”

“Dad, by then you will relinquish life. Don’t you know? You won’t have any time to read”, my son stated.

“Just do as you are told and be good”, Bethanie said.

My son gave in, not wanting to upset his mother anymore.

I started reading Independence Day. I flipped through the rustled pages, the aroma of the book, whiffled through the room. The clocked ticked and tocked. Hours past and I was done. I glanced of my side to find my wife taking a snooze on a stool, arms rested on my thighs. I could not bare to see such a sight. All this suffering, gloom and hurt, I have given to her. This was all my fault. If I wouldn’t give up the ghost so soon.

I had to live. I can’t go way of all flesh. Not yet. If only I could continue to live my days with Bethanie. I’ll rather let her kick the bucket first rather than let me, so she wouldn’t have to watch the not so pleasant sight of a beloved passing on. Luck be with those whom relinquish life earlier than their loved ones for they may not need to cry for their loss. It was at this moment, I remembered my youthful days.

Decades ago, I was in my thirties. I was a man whom spent their days sleeping on the couch for hours and hours. Nevertheless, Bethanie still stayed by my side. She once told me, “I stay with you because I love you. I don’t care if you live a miserable life, as long as you are with me, I am content”.

On hearing those fateful words, I changed my game for the better. I started working hard. Really hard. I became a workaholic. I would immerse myself in documents after documents. I soon became successful.

One day, I was strolling through the park, I observed a flower bloom. This flower, was the stem’s cry of beauty in this world. Reminding me of The Little Prince. How dear his love for his rose was. Everyday, after work, I would admire the pretty petals until one day, I saw it wither and die. From this, I learnt that life is fragile. We will all depart from this world one day. Young I was did I wish for immortality, for I had feared death. To my surprise, a little fairy sprung out of the withered flower.

“Immortality is a bad thing to wish for. You will never die and will live past you grandchildren and their children, seeing your kith and kin all meet their demise. Surely you do not want that do you?” the little fairy said.

“Then what shall I wish for?”


I was most certainly piqued. A fairy? Surely fairies don’t exist right?

“How about this. For every book you read, you will gain another day to live on top of your original death date?”

Why, that isn’t a bad idea. Or so I thought. I nodded my head.

“Very well. Be forewarned that not all wishes turn out the way you imagine it to.”

And with that, the fairy vanished. I returned home to tell Bethanie what had happened. She broke out into hysterical laughter and said that I work too much for my own good and needed some sleep.

In the present time as I laid in my death bed, I came up with an idea. I pestered Bethanie to awake from her slumber.

“Beth! Wake up! I can live! I won’t die!” I exclaimed. “I need you to bring me as many books as you can from my collection as soon as possible!”

Bethanie had a look of slight confusion on her face but obliged almost immediately.

In a spare moment, she returned with stacks of books, along with my children whom helped carried them.

I greedily snatched the books and began reading. I read and read and read. Days had past and I was still alive! I cheated death! The doctors were left aphonic. How did I pull through? I had terminal cancer. Incurable. Yet I continued to walk the streets.

It was all thanks to that fairy I met on that fateful day years ago. After weeks after months, I was deemed healthy enough to return to my lodgings. Home. The doctors’ only logical explanation for my ‘phenomenon’ was that I was misdiagnosed.

Now I live every day, book in hand, cherishing every moment with Bethanie.

When the day Bethanie buys the farm will I stop reading.

Just a thought. Would I be immortal if I read books non-stop? To this question, the fairy from before materialised before me, and it looks like it wasn’t here to grant me another wish.

Submitted: January 18, 2018

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