The woman loved her husband. All the nurses saw it. Of course they didn’t know that the woman who sat next to the elderly man in Room 5, Bed A, holding his hand and talking to him in sweet undertones of her love and recounting past idyllic days of their life together - wasn’t human.
They couldn’t know that the woman before them, her face like creased velvet and framed with loosened tendrils of graying hair was not old. She was not the same age as her husband, though she looked to be in her eighties, or thereabouts. She was not as old as the young nurse who came in to take away the uneaten dinner. She was younger than the newborn baby whose arrival was at that moment being announced on the hospital’s intercom with a lullaby.
The aging lady with tears in her eyes was the youngest thing on the earth—because she had not been born, yet. Sweet elderly Mrs. Fieldstone, who’d been with her loved one at the hospital every day, all day, would not make a timely appearance on planet earth for more than a thousand years.
The young LVN, Annette, put the tray on the cart. She spoke to the other floor nurse on the opposite side of the tall metal tray carrier as she slid hers onto a shelf. “Mona, aren’t they so sweet?”
“Who? Oh, you mean the Fieldstones. Yes. She hasn’t left his side, even after Hospice showed up.”
Annette walked to the other side of the cart to stand next to her colleague and said, “Well, I’m a bit worried about her. She should take some time and get some rest.”
“Well, it shouldn’t be too long now, according to what I overheard the doctor say to the Hospice Chaplain yesterday.”
“Yeah. Maybe to the end of the week.”
“That’s five more days to be together. Sad for her.”
“Annette, remember. Don’t get too overly attached. You’ll get depressed, again.”
“I won’t, Mona. I mean, I’m not.”
“But, I heard Mrs. Fieldstone say something...”
“That’s not surprising. She’s been talking to him for hours, whether he’s in or out of consciousness,” said Mona with a flip of her hand.
“It worries me, though. She said something about “I’ll be there with you.”
“Well, of course. She’s right there. It’s a comforting thing to say.”
“Uh, there was more. She said that she’d be right behind. The exact words were, ‘I’ll follow your trail to the other side. We won’t get separated this time.’” Annette pulled the cart to the next open doors.
“Hmm, that’s a little strange,” Mona said with a slight frown.
“Yes. I think she might be thinking about, you know, suicide.”
Mona went into one room and Annette entered the one across the hall. In a few minutes, both came out with dinner trays. “Annette, she’s probably just talking. Trying to say things that will comfort him.”
“I don’t know. When she spoke, Mr. Fieldstone opened his eyes like he heard her. He gripped her hand and looked different. Alert all of a sudden.”
“See? That’s good. He’s getting comfort,” Mona said. “Now, pull the cart up. And could you grab the next two rooms? I’ve got some meds to get ready.”
“Sure, okay.” When Mona walked away, Annette said to herself, “But then she said, ‘It’s in place, my love. Just a few more minutes.’”
A glow, maybe a flash of light caught Annette’s eye. She turned and saw it again—a light that sort of bulged out of Mr. Fieldstone’s room then receded.
Annette hurried down the hall and swung into the room. She stopped short and slapped her hand over her mouth. Mist floated above the two people in the room. Inside the mist a glow vacillated in varying blue colors. The source of the wavering pastels was Mr. Fieldstone’s body, his covers thrown off to the floor. A cold waft of air brushed past and Annette realized the window was open, which was all wrong, because the hospital windows didn’t open. She gasped in a breath when the blue, smoky air encased her. Half frightened, she stepped further into the room, drawn in by the beautiful and captivating scene—closer to the older couple, and deeper into the mist.
At that moment, someone came in. Annette jerked and turned to see the night janitor. “Jonathan! Do you see…?” But the janitor calmly took the trash and walked out. Like he didn’t appear to notice the Fieldstones or see what was happening on the bed, or even see or hear her. What the…?
Something warm touched her arm. Mrs. Fieldstone had turned from the bed and reached out. “You can see it.”
Annette looked at the hand touching her arm. It was luminescent, like Mr. Fieldstone’s body. Tingling warmth moved across her skin. A glow spread up her arm. In spellbound confusion, she looked at Mrs. Fieldstone who smiled and said, “You can see the dimensions. You’re unique, Nurse Annette.”
Several seconds passed before Annette shook her head, choosing to not respond to whatever ‘the dimensions’ were. She swallowed against the dry papery feel in her throat and managed a hoarse whisper. “Is Mr. Fieldstone okay?”
Mrs. Fieldstone’s laugh was as soft and warm as her hand on Annette’s arm. “Yes, dear. He’s very okay. Tell me what you see.”
When Annette turned her gaze from the woman’s face to view the room, she froze, transfixed. “Oh, my gosh.”
The shape of the room had faded. The walls were gone and the night sky beyond shimmered like dark blue-sequined fabric that reflected light – shiny and shadowy at the same time. The strange firmament seemed to stretch on forever. “Oh, it’s so beautiful,” Annette said under her breath. “What is this? What’s happening?”
“There is no time to explain, my dear. Franklin is already shifting with the Tesseract. The next time fold is revealing and I must jump with him,” she said in a rush. She paused for a moment, then reached into her pocket and took out a handkerchief. “Keep this for me, will you? Then I may recognize you—at some time.”
At that moment, the expanse of glistening space began to change. The shadows in the sequined sky started to coalesce into dark spaces that morphed into one long cubic tunnel and inside was a kaleidoscope of dancing reflected light.
Movement at the bed forced Annette to look away from the unbelievable scene in time to see a shadow move up from Mr. Fieldstone’s body. No, not a shadow – a ghostly replica of him. He turned to look at his wife who reached out. Her eyes shone a strange bluish white color. When their hands touched, something spectacular happened. A gauzy thread of light flowed from each of her eyes straight to her husband at the moment his ghostly shape began to float upward. The apparition and the gossamer threads blended into each other and their joined energies moved toward the frenzied angles of light inside the tunnel.
And then they were gone.
Everything was gone. Just like that.
The room returned to normal. Annette took a gasping breath and stumbled to the bed. “Mrs. Fieldstone! Oh, no!”
The elderly body of Mrs. Fieldstone, her arms and torso draped across her husband, was dead. Both of the old people had died.
“Oh, there you are. I thought you were going to pick up the dinner trays…What’s wrong?”
Annette turned to Mona then looked back at what the Fieldstones had left behind. Mona stepped forward. “Oh, wow.” She put two fingers against Mrs. Fieldstones neck and then to the husband. “They’re dead. My word. They died together?”
“I don’t know. I guess so,” Annette said with a sob.
Mona put her hands on her hips. “What do you mean, ‘you guess so’?”
Annette wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “Well, I know for sure—they jumped together.”
“Jumped? Oh brother. Now, there you go. You can’t let your emotions take you over. Remember how sad you got last time you were too attached?”
Annette smiled and looked at the pretty cotton cloth in her hand. It was embroidered with a flower and the word, ‘Amaranth’. She looked out the closed window into the plain, normal night sky, then glanced at her friend.
“Don’t worry, Mona. I don’t think I’ll be so sad, anymore.”
** END **