Heartbroken


These shades are dusty,” Natalie tells Ryan. He cannot hear. She understands this. She snaps up the shades of both windows, studies the motes suspended in the air. “There's so much we don't see, Ryan. Just so much we'll never understand.” She stares nine floors down at the crowded parking lot. “It looks so calm down there,” she says and laughs, surprising herself. “All neat and perfect. Everything put into place.” She turns to face her husband. His face is pale and thin. His eyes remain closed. “Remember Nick's toy parking garage? God, he spent hours playing with that thing. Driving his Matchbox cars up the ramp with his pudgy hand. Parking them in neat slots. Folding down the striped guard's gate. We thought life was so simple then, didn't we?”


Ryan looks small and inconsequential lying there tucked beneath the blankets. “Are you hot?” Ryan always claimed the sheet was more than adequate. She pulls down his blanket, folding it neatly at the bottom of the bed. She recalls the plastic yellow pitcher of ice water on the bedside table; a matching tumbler with a flexi-straw inserted through the top. “Are you thirsty?” She stares at his face, waiting for a response, waiting for anything. She sits and folds her hands neatly in her lap. She doesn't know what to touch; doesn't know where to put her hands or even herself. “God I feel so helpless,” she says, watching the machine inflate her husband's lungs. “I feel so in the way.” The room smells of stale urine and disinfectant.

You knew this would break my heart, Ryan.” She touches her wrist where, on his own arm, the IV drips painkillers into his veins. “Why did you do it, Ryan?”

She stares at her husband's face; watches it slowly dissolve into Nick's. They'd been at the lake that day. Fishing trip for Nick's birthday. Ryan hated the water; always had. But Nick...God how he'd loved it.

There's a knock on the doorframe. She turns, expecting another nurse. All day long they've traipsed in and out of his room, grim-faced and silent, adjusting buttons and squinting at dials, telling her nothing. “Yes?”

Mrs. Deale?”

Natalie squints. “That's right.” A lawyer, then. Or one of those people asking for organ donations. But no: The woman carries a big black purse over her shoulder. She steps into the room on tentative feet. “It was my son.”

Natalie stiffens. Uncrosses her legs. “I'm sorry?”

My son David that your husband saved last night.”

I see.” Natalie feels the anger surge inside her.

May I?” The woman gestures to the other chair. She sits without waiting for a response.  

“I'm Louise.” She sets her purse on her lap and snaps open the gold clasp, rooting around inside until she comes up with a packet of tissues. “My son's had a hard life, Mrs. Deale. His daddy left him when he was just a wee one.” She shakes her head. “Always a handful, that boy. Always getting into a heap of trouble.”

Natalie thinks about Nick. Allows a small smile to cross her lips.

My husband left me with four little ones and a stack of bills. I had to work three jobs just to meet the bills.” Louise twists the tissue between her hands. “I just...”She looks at Ryan. “If only I'd been there more for him.”

How old is David, Louise?”

Seven tomorrow.” Her eyes glisten.

Ryan's brother died at seven,” Natalie says, blinking. “We were raising him.”

Louise's mouth forms an O, then crumples. She fishes in her purse again and brings out a pack of Marlboros. She pulls one out and puts it in her mouth, unlit. “I'm so sorry,” she says, her cigarette bouncing along with the words and Natalie is reminded of the white ball that bounced along the words at the bottom of the cartoons she used to watch.

I'm so sorry, Mrs. Deale,” she repeats.

Natalie shakes her head. “Call me Natalie.”

They grasp hands and the two sit, watching each other with watery eyes.

Tell me about your husband's brother.”

Drowned. Nick leaned too far out of the boat. Fell in, before Ryan could grab him.” Natalie rememberes watching from the dock. “Ryan was terrified of the water. Couldn't force himself to go in.” She remembers watching Ryan, frozen in the boat. She remembers screaming at him to jump in after Nick. She remembers how, after the funeral, they didn't speak to each other for three weeks. She remembers how badly Ryan wanted a baby after that.

She remembers giving up after three years of tears. “He never forgave himself.”

Do you have any children of your own, Natalie?”

Natalie blinks. “I just found out I'm expecting. I was going to tell Ryan yesterday when he got home from work.”

Louise's eyes fill up with tears. Her voice cracks as she speaks. “If your husband hadn't...”

Oh, look,” Natalie says, glancing again at the window. “It's snowing.” She meets Louise's eyes again. “Ryan always did love the snow.” She rises and kisses her husband's forehead. And her heart is broken, yes. But still she understands.

* * * 

For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Talia at http://inspectorsky.tumblr.com/ gave me this prompt: "You knew it was going to break my heart, so why did you do it?"

I gave Kurt at http://muzzlediaries.blogspot.comthis prompt: Ask the world to reveal its quietude — Wendell Berry

Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Heartbroken

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Heartbroken


These shades are dusty,” Natalie tells Ryan. He cannot hear. She understands this. She snaps up the shades of both windows, studies the motes suspended in the air. “There's so much we don't see, Ryan. Just so much we'll never understand.” She stares nine floors down at the crowded parking lot. “It looks so calm down there,” she says and laughs, surprising herself. “All neat and perfect. Everything put into place.” She turns to face her husband. His face is pale and thin. His eyes remain closed. “Remember Nick's toy parking garage? God, he spent hours playing with that thing. Driving his Matchbox cars up the ramp with his pudgy hand. Parking them in neat slots. Folding down the striped guard's gate. We thought life was so simple then, didn't we?”


Ryan looks small and inconsequential lying there tucked beneath the blankets. “Are you hot?” Ryan always claimed the sheet was more than adequate. She pulls down his blanket, folding it neatly at the bottom of the bed. She recalls the plastic yellow pitcher of ice water on the bedside table; a matching tumbler with a flexi-straw inserted through the top. “Are you thirsty?” She stares at his face, waiting for a response, waiting for anything. She sits and folds her hands neatly in her lap. She doesn't know what to touch; doesn't know where to put her hands or even herself. “God I feel so helpless,” she says, watching the machine inflate her husband's lungs. “I feel so in the way.” The room smells of stale urine and disinfectant.

You knew this would break my heart, Ryan.” She touches her wrist where, on his own arm, the IV drips painkillers into his veins. “Why did you do it, Ryan?”

She stares at her husband's face; watches it slowly dissolve into Nick's. They'd been at the lake that day. Fishing trip for Nick's birthday. Ryan hated the water; always had. But Nick...God how he'd loved it.

There's a knock on the doorframe. She turns, expecting another nurse. All day long they've traipsed in and out of his room, grim-faced and silent, adjusting buttons and squinting at dials, telling her nothing. “Yes?”

Mrs. Deale?”

Natalie squints. “That's right.” A lawyer, then. Or one of those people asking for organ donations. But no: The woman carries a big black purse over her shoulder. She steps into the room on tentative feet. “It was my son.”

Natalie stiffens. Uncrosses her legs. “I'm sorry?”

My son David that your husband saved last night.”

I see.” Natalie feels the anger surge inside her.

May I?” The woman gestures to the other chair. She sits without waiting for a response.  

“I'm Louise.” She sets her purse on her lap and snaps open the gold clasp, rooting around inside until she comes up with a packet of tissues. “My son's had a hard life, Mrs. Deale. His daddy left him when he was just a wee one.” She shakes her head. “Always a handful, that boy. Always getting into a heap of trouble.”

Natalie thinks about Nick. Allows a small smile to cross her lips.

My husband left me with four little ones and a stack of bills. I had to work three jobs just to meet the bills.” Louise twists the tissue between her hands. “I just...”She looks at Ryan. “If only I'd been there more for him.”

How old is David, Louise?”

Seven tomorrow.” Her eyes glisten.

Ryan's brother died at seven,” Natalie says, blinking. “We were raising him.”

Louise's mouth forms an O, then crumples. She fishes in her purse again and brings out a pack of Marlboros. She pulls one out and puts it in her mouth, unlit. “I'm so sorry,” she says, her cigarette bouncing along with the words and Natalie is reminded of the white ball that bounced along the words at the bottom of the cartoons she used to watch.

I'm so sorry, Mrs. Deale,” she repeats.

Natalie shakes her head. “Call me Natalie.”

They grasp hands and the two sit, watching each other with watery eyes.

Tell me about your husband's brother.”

Drowned. Nick leaned too far out of the boat. Fell in, before Ryan could grab him.” Natalie rememberes watching from the dock. “Ryan was terrified of the water. Couldn't force himself to go in.” She remembers watching Ryan, frozen in the boat. She remembers screaming at him to jump in after Nick. She remembers how, after the funeral, they didn't speak to each other for three weeks. She remembers how badly Ryan wanted a baby after that.

She remembers giving up after three years of tears. “He never forgave himself.”

Do you have any children of your own, Natalie?”

Natalie blinks. “I just found out I'm expecting. I was going to tell Ryan yesterday when he got home from work.”

Louise's eyes fill up with tears. Her voice cracks as she speaks. “If your husband hadn't...”

Oh, look,” Natalie says, glancing again at the window. “It's snowing.” She meets Louise's eyes again. “Ryan always did love the snow.” She rises and kisses her husband's forehead. And her heart is broken, yes. But still she understands.

* * * 

For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Talia at http://inspectorsky.tumblr.com/ gave me this prompt: "You knew it was going to break my heart, so why did you do it?"

I gave Kurt at http://muzzlediaries.blogspot.comthis prompt: Ask the world to reveal its quietude — Wendell Berry

Labels: ,

5 Comments:

At November 10, 2012 at 7:18 PM , OpenID lynnadavidson.com said...

This is painful to read.

So well-written, Kelly.

 
At November 11, 2012 at 6:10 PM , Blogger Stephanie B. @B4Steph said...

Wow, this is very moving - an entire life encapsulated. Beautiful

 
At November 13, 2012 at 8:38 AM , Blogger j umbaugh said...

So much story in so few words... Liked it.

 
At November 15, 2012 at 12:24 PM , Blogger MuzzleDiaries said...

This is spectacular... as always. Some people are good at coming up with raw stories and characters, and some people are good at being wordsmiths - you're outstanding at both! Great work!

 
At November 19, 2012 at 8:02 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

This was really good. Tugs at your heart.

 

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