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The Sentence

Sat by my bed I watch the retreating youthful figure of the man who has just given me three months to live. He is surrounded by a flock of acolytes in white coats, floating behind them like the broken wings of gulls. For him it is no more than another verdict efficiently delivered. To be fair, he had taken time to perfect the quiet voice, the measured apologetic tone. But it came with the sound of tolling bells and mournful music.

Still, I cannot grumble, I have three months in which to prepare. I don't even arrange my holidays that far in advance.

My thoughts turn to the people in my life, or rather those who did feature in my life. Twice divorced, children with lives of their own. I must have their addresses written down somewhere?

I have never contemplated my own funeral. Who will be there, who will cry, who will lie. In my experience people rarely express their true feelings at funerals, it is a time for exaggerated love or suppressed dislike.

So, I have three months in which to do whatever I want. It all seems rather pointless. I could re-introduce myself to my children, to say goodbye. I could spend time drinking with those people I call my friends, but they will drink remorselessly without me.

There are soap operas I'll never know the conclusion of, if they have conclusions? There are meals I'll never eat, women I'll never sleep with, places I'll never visit.

The windows in this hospital only open a few inches. Somewhere there will be a staircase leading to the roof.

Story by:

Bruce Aiken

submitted at 6:46pm

20 December 2011