Invisible - Part 2

Continued from Invisible - Part 1

Part 2: Milo

Through the window, Milo can see the day darkening as the ominous clouds of the predicted storm fill the sky. Dead leaves lay in the gutters, being flattened by the first raindrops. He feels the sinking temperature in his bones, and he’s very glad he grabbed his coat before leaving home this morning. There’s nothing pretty about this late autumn day. Fitting,

He turns to look at Emmaline, motionless in the hospital bed. She looks so peaceful, probably, he thinks, for the first time in months. She’s been ill for so long, and dying for almost as long. Of course, he’s heart-broken to lose the love of his life for the past 30 years, 30 years when it was just the two of them. But if he’s honest with himself, he must admit he’s relieved, even though he feels desperately alone and empty.

How clearly he remembers the day the doctor delivered Emmaline’s death sentence. The two of them sat before his desk, truly expecting him to tell her that she had something like irritable bowel syndrome. They’d even joked about it. “You’ve always been a pain in the ass, Em,” he’d said to her. Instead, the doctor looked them both in the eye, and said, “Advanced pancreatic cancer.”

Nothing was ever the same again.  Despite the doctor’s prediction that it wouldn’t help, she’d insisted on going through chemo.  As if dying weren’t enough, she added to her suffering, thanks to that damned chemo. She was constantly nauseous, and barely left her bed except to rush to the toilet. It tore him up to watch the weight melt off her. He tried to concoct tempting but bland meals, oxymoronic as that is. She did her best to get them down, but she could never keep them down.  After several months, the doctor took her off the chemo, telling her that not only was it not helping, it was making it worse for her. She had only about a month to live. Though Milo agreed with the doctor that she should stay in the hospital, she refused, saying she wanted to die at home. And so she came home. He did his best to honor her wishes, giving her pain pills and sips of water, wiping her brow, reading to her all night when she couldn’t sleep.

Last night, he couldn’t stand it anymore. She lay in the grip of pain, moaning, and he’d called an ambulance. Once back in the hospital, they’d hooked her up to a morphine drip, and slowly, the grimace of pain faded from her face, and she slept. He sat by her side and held her hand, listening to her breathe. Until she didn’t.

It’s time. He kisses Emmaline’s forehead gently, whispers goodbye, pulls on his coat, and leaves. He needs to get back to work. He’s left the shop in the hands of Emmaline's best friend, Margaret, who has helped him out now and then during Emmaline’s illness.

It’s raining full bore by the time he gets back to the shop. After telling her that Em has gone, he thanks her  and sees her out against her objections, and locks up. He doesn’t want to go home to the house, the house that will always be empty without Emmaline. Still carrying the meatloaf sandwich he picked up at the deli next door, he wanders aimlessly to the back room. He’s lost. Without Emmaline, he’s nothing. In the gloom of the storeroom, he sinks down on a box of books waiting to be shelved, and sobs.

He has no idea how long he’s being sitting in the dark crying like a baby, but a loud crash outside in the alley brings him back. No mistaking it. It's dinner time, so it’s Mooch, picking through the garbage can.  That’s not his real name; rumor around the neighborhood has it that his name is Mitch. But everyone calls him Mooch, because he’s always looking for a handout.

Milo unlocks the back door and looks though the pouring rain at Mooch, standing at the garbage can, his coat soaked and filthy from the streets.

“Good heavens, man. It's fit for neither man nor beast out there. Come on in. I’ll share my sandwich with you.”

To be continued in Part 3: Mooch

Posted for River of Mnemosyne Challenge No. 11, Muse 2: "Lost and Found In the Old Corner Bookstore"

1 comment:

  1. Nice little tense shift. And hopefully a mood shift!

    Fourth paragraph: "... the doctor took heR off the..."


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