Friday, March 23, 2012

Hope Abandoned

Photo Credit
I rushed through the doors of the hospital hoping somehow this was a mistake. Maybe it wasn’t my mother, perhaps it is only a look-alike, or maybe my common name created some sort of confusion. It could happen. In my panicked prayer, I pleaded, “Oh God, please, please may it not be my mother, for I cannot go on without her, please, please.”

“She’s in room 607,” The nurse said without even looking up from her clipboard.

I ran to the room, as if the pace of my stride could have prevented the whole thing. As I arrived at the room, my pace and heavy breathing came to an abrupt stop. I told myself whatever I saw in here, that for her sake, I would learn to silence my emotion, for she would have had the strength to do the same for me.

I entered slowly, “Mom?”

The only response was a beep from one machine and a gasping from another.

I walked to her bed, and the tears that I had promised myself not to allow, came trickling down my cheeks. I sat at her bedside stroked her hair. I recognized her hair; it was one of the few things I did recognize.

While this should have been a time for me to share my thoughts with her and to tell her just how much I loved her I couldn’t do it. I shamelessly began checking off tasks. First things first, my mother hated a wrinkled sheet. I straightened the sheets which lay around her. The side table looked a little unorganized I lined up the juice next to the water and placed the Kleenex box just behind it. If mom wakes up she won’t want to wake up to a mess. I stood up, ran my hands down to straighten my slacks and began ordering the nurses around for clean towels, a fresh pillow and some crisp sheets. I need to go get some flowers. I thought. Why would I have shown up to a hospital without flowers anyway? I rushed out the door abandoning my mother for a fresh vase of flowers.

I returned with vase of yellow daffodils, cheery, mom would have said. I made my way back to room 607 to find my sisters by her side. “Where have you been?” Ellie asked.

I placed the flowers be her bedside and fluffed the around the vase a bit. “Well you know mom would appreciate waking up to fresh flowers.”

Ellie stood up grabbed my arm, “Alice, stop, just, stop. You running around pretending like you’re mom isn’t going to magically bring her back.”

Her words knocked me down, I sat down by my sisters on that wretched hospital couch, we embraced and suddenly we all knew we had to abandon the hope that things were ever going to be like they were.
This post was inspired by Write on Edge The challenge this week: According to Dante, the gates of hell are inscribed “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”Let that inscription lead, but not necessarily define, your piece. In 500 words or less.


  1. This describes different reactions to shock and hopelessness very well.

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you found the time to stop by.

  2. Oh - How heart-wrenching! I love how your character reacts to this situation by trying to order the little things around her.

    In terns of concrit... I think I push yourself to pay attention to all the little details in your prose, which is evocative, but sometimes a little wordy.

    For example, this image really stuck with me: "I recognized her hair; it was one of the few things I did recognize." But a rewrite that makes "hair" the subject: "Her hair was one of the few things I did recognize."

    Same punchy image, less words! (I am a firm Strunk and White follower... less is more!)

    Great characters and story line!

    1. Yes. So much better, thanks for the help. Some things seem so easy once they are pointed out, but at the time of writing them, they're not so obvious.

  3. I like the emotions that flowed throughout this. And the desire to make everything seem 'normal' even though Alice knew deep dow that it wasn't going ot be normal again.

    My only critique is her prayer...would she say cannot? I think when we pray we don't go all formal, especially when our emotions are ramped up.

  4. LIndy, I do that very time, play at normalcy when things fall apart, and I think you did a great job creating that internal landscape.

    Barbara and Carrie have pointed out the places I thought could have been stronger already.