That Final Moment

He sits in the sun. Sat on the doorstep. His cigarette burning low in his fingers, unsmoked as his attention is focused towards the people going about their own business. Tourists walking along the high street oblivious, casting a few confused glances at the ambulance parked in front of him. He watches the market traders gossip in whispered tones, creating their own stories for what they are witnessing.

Behind him the hallway rests in silence. His back turned to the truth that lies inside. The truth his mind cannot contemplate; refuses to accept. The cigarette burns his fingers. He drops its body to the floor and picks out another. Click. Flame. Inhale. He draws death into his lungs and holds it there.

He tries to cry but nothing comes. Empty. Emotionally drained. Even the cigarette tastes numb. What had happened? What had his eyes witnessed all alone? He looks at the world around him continuing without pause. He hates it. Hates each and every one of those people that walk without care, those that laugh at their own jokes, those whose lives continue. He hates them all. He hates himself too. Hates that he is still here, hates that he has to sit here smoking a cigarette when she lies alone upstairs. He hates himself for not being good enough to save her life as she had saved his. He hates that this is how it ends.

He remembers that moment. The moment when the struggle ended. That moment when the lights went out and she fell backwards in slow motion. How could he ever forget that second, that minute when their whole lives changed and the world turned around them in blissful ignorance? The last moment they shared together as a team. Her hand went limp in his, falling away from him whilst he barked and pleaded down the phone to the emergency services. Her eyes rolling back and the noise. The guttural noise coming out of her mouth as she fell backwards. The last sound of her he will ever hear. He knew in that instant what had happened; the world running in slow motion, his heart unable to break as he still needed to run on cold autopilot. His last kiss, the kiss of life against her lips. His last touch, downward thrusts trying in vain to rewind time. To rewind back to the laughter they had shared only half an hour earlier.

How he wishes he could rewind and record a different ending, create a different conclusion, but the video is read-only and nothing he can do will change anything. The pain of that too much to bear. All he hopes is that his presence helped her in some way. That her hand in his brought to her some comfort. He wishes he knew. Their worlds changed and he never got to say ‘goodbye’. She had been snatched out of his life, and how he wishes it had been him and not her.

He feels a hand on his shoulder. One of the paramedics looks down at him, a sad smile on his lips. “You did everything you could. She would have been proud of you.”

He had done everything he could, and it had not been good enough.


He returns to his flat, walking slowly up the stairs to his door on the second floor. All that remains there as evidence to what had happened only hours previous are a few discarded pieces of medical equipment, and a blood stain on the carpet from when they had tried to get the fluid drip into her leg, or at least that is what he thought they had been doing. He pauses on the stairs looking up the final flight towards his door. His mind layers his last memory of the scene over it and his body drains of its warmth. He cannot move forward, so instead he steps backwards around the corner and sits heavily on the steps. His body leant forward, his hands pressed firmly against his head.

What happened? his mind asks. What the fuck had happened? He cannot even comprehend the memories flashing before his eyes; he sees them as vividly as though they are happening at that exact moment. Why? He smacks his left hand against his head. Why? Why? Why?

Dazed by the three additional slaps, he gets slowly to his feet. Walking on autopilot, he journeys the remainder of the stairs to his door. The air smells stale, the sickly sweet smell of death lingering as a morbid undertone.

His hand shakes as he tries to fit the key into the lock, missing the slot several times before finally slipping it home. He turns it and the door swings inwards. Without looking back he enters and allows the door to close behind him. In the tiny hallway, squeezed between the bedroom and the living room, his legs give way and he collapses to the floor.

“Why?” he shouts, screams out into the darkness. “Why did you have to take her?” His hands rub at his eyes. “Why her and not me?” His face wet and screwed up in anguish. “Why not me?” A sob. “Why?” He slaps his hands against the sides of his head angrily. “Why not me?”

Copyright © Dominic Lyne, 2013

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