Last month I entered the Dorset Fiction Award, I wasn’t short listed, but I am really proud that I have actually finished a story (even if it is only 1,000 words). I don’t plan to enter it into any more competitions. I have a theory that, if I write a new story for every short story competition I enter, I will eventually, get better at writing. I would love you to read this, and would greatly appreciate any feedback at all. When ever I write one of these and it doesn’t get shortlisted I will be posting it on here instead. I hope you enjoy!
The Last Big Adventure
Anise felt her face crease with faux joy. She was happy, but stricken with disappointment, her nephew was leaving for America in the morning.
“Goodbye, Aunty Anise!” He was happy, her enduring body had succeeded in surviving the winter, albeit in hospital, but the pneumonia was on its way out. Her nephew Jamie had been with her for Christmas this year. Jamie’s son had visited too, they had only met him a few times in person, yet together, they were video chat professionals. Jamie’s voice perked up, “Next year, you can come and visit us again!”
“Oh that would be fantastic my love.” Her face eased into a grin this time, “It has been a while and I do love New York!” Anise was very limber for seventy-three and loved travel and adventure. She had spent the majority of her retirement in every corner of the world, wandering with her pet beagle, Benny. Next year would come quickly, they both knew she should be well enough to travel by mid-January. The very idea gave her a huge boost, Jamie beamed back.
“Good I’ll take you to visit Niagara Falls this time, I’m sure Benny will enjoy the view even if you don’t!” His belly wobbled with laughter, Anise was deathly afraid of water. Her eyes scowled like a scolded child back at him.
“Well, it’s another tick off my bucket list, I guess” She grumbled thoughtfully to herself. “Even if it isn’t at the top!” Her scowl melted as she continued to talk about the things she would like to do first.
Jamie had gone. Anise had her trip to America to look forward to but was now feeling a little left behind and sorry for herself. The mumble of chatter amongst the other patients and their relatives reverberated around the small, ivory bay. Her nurse for the day was cheerily waltzing past each patient, offering painkillers with a smile. The lady next to her was sound asleep. Crouching down, the nurse gently woke her to offer her some sleeping tablets. Anise chuckled at the irony. It was her turn next. The nurse shifted through the many different boxes of tablets.
“Would you like any painkillers Anise?” The nurse cheerily sang.
“Hmm, actually I wouldn’t mind some; I have a niggle.” She laughed, “I don’t like taking them but I would rather get a goodnight’s sleep so I can get out of here sooner.”
“A niggle?” The nurse replied.
“Oh it’s nothing. It’s been coming and going since I got here, I suspect the pneumonia.” Anise added, accepting the pain relief. “Ah,” she laughed, “these ones look like they taste good.” The nurse gave a humoured chuckle.
The soft chatter of hospital machinery and the lazy snoring of the lady next to her filled the air. It was cold on the ward, Anise’s hands and feet were ice and her nose felt stuffy. Waking up slowly, staring at cracks in the old ceiling tiles, Anise thought to herself that the nurse, with her cheery small talk and colourful painkillers, would be welcome this morning. The pain resurfaced; it was getting worse, though nothing to worry the nurse about. Doctor Howard would be round this afternoon, the thought ‘might be wise to mention it’ floated around in her head.
On cue, the nurse wandered through the bay doors, smiling widely as usual. “I’ll be having a shower nurse, in case you want me, maybe some more of those pain killers would be welcomed.” Anise smiled as she walked past the nurse. She turned the shower on. Warmth spread through her body, alleviating the pain.
Anise fell into blackness.
A sudden rush of pain screeched through her body. The shower room faded from her vision.
Strong hands raced towards her and Anise felt her body being lifted, dragged with gentle necessity.
There was no noise, just concentration as the nurses and doctors struggled to resuscitate her.
Each time taking her breath away; she felt her ribs break. The agony in her chest was getting angrier and angrier. “Let me go.” She tried to speak, but her voice was weak and distant, “Just let me go.”
Anise felt her body being lifted and quickly moved. The pounding on her chest had stopped. There had been so many people surrounding her, they had gone now. There was no sound. The colour drained from her world, leaving only darkness and pain.
A calm voice reached to her from out of the haze,
“Anise, can you hear me?”
“Yes, I can hear you.”
“Anise, I’m sorry, you’re dying,” the voice was soft and distant. Anise strained to listen, “ . . . Twenty percent chance of survival . . . Surgery . . . rupture . . . Next of kin.”
Next of kin. Jamie was on an aeroplane heading back to America. He would never know.
“No more.” a small voice came from Anise.
A low light glowed as the nurse read aloud from a book. Anise could barely hear her, but felt the warm, honey voice that sounded as though summer had melted into the room. She didn’t feel alone. The pain had gone but the fog was rolling in quickly, strangely warm and cool simultaneously. Her hand felt warm, it was being held. She was lying in hazy relief, the nurse’s voice talking smoothly in the background, the room slowly fading. All around her familiar shadows, gathered.
Benny would be going to Niagara Falls on his own. Anise smiled sadly, she knew Jamie would make sure he got there safely. She had no children of her own, but Jamie was as close to her as any child she could have had, she had no regrets.
“Come on, my love.” A tall man spoke to her, an echo from her childhood, clear as day. She reached out her hand.
One more deep breath.
Dying was okay, a big adventure really. She disappeared, a fleeting spark.