End Days by Emma Cayen

These halls are familiar to you these days. You go from the common areas, with bright colours and trite messages on the wall, into restricted halls where the staff know you by name. It has gone from a frightful journey into a world unknown to a matter of routine – a mere obstacle before reaching her side.

You arrive at her room. You’ve brought the nurse a cup of coffee, and he accepts it gratefully. It’s almost a bribe of sorts, your way to incentivize them to do their best in a job where patients can slip through the cracks. It’s all you can do.

You wish this was all a bad dream, but unfortunately, reality doesn’t give a damn about your wishes.

You’re eventually left alone, with only her and the machines as company. There’s a man who is decades her senior in the room across the hall, laughing at a joke on the television. He will leave the ICU soon enough; he won’t be the first you’ve seen go since she’s arrived. You can’t help but hate him for it.

You hold her hand. Once neatly manicured and slender, now her fingers are swollen and tinged in yellow. You long to put a bit of polish on them, give her a sense of normalcy.

Ha, normalcy. As if things can go back to normal after all this. Even if she opens her eyes once more, the doctors have been clear on her chances. There’s good reason she’s been lying here in the ICU for weeks now.

But miracles happen every day … right?

You ignore the voice – growing stronger each day that passes – that reminds you that miracles are offset by the thousands of statistics. For every inspirational tale, there are thousands of untold stories of life and death, following a predictable ebb and flow.

You hold your phone in your other hand, fingers numb as you scroll through her favourite songs. Her toe slowly taps along to an upbeat song. Her way of reassuring you she’s still there, fighting. You place your phone by her ear, settling into the uncomfortable hospital chair for another long day.

Emma is in her final year in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin. Looking forward to her future in the writing world, she even finds herself dreaming of plot bunnies in her sleep. Emma also enjoys beating her sister at a good game of Mario Party and spending time with her beloved cat George.