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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)

TITLE: A Warm Welcome
By Natalie Cole


I want Henry to think the pain is gone, so I keep my eyes closed. Really, I didn't feel it much any more, but the nurses always knew. They say to me, "Ms. Roillet, would you like me to get you a hot pack? Or an ice pack? Which hurt is it today?" Or something along those lines. If it wasn't arthritis, it was my muscles. Or the pressure on my nerves, from the cancer. Sometimes it was all of them. Nothing ever helped.

But, like I said, I hardly feel it anymore. I lie in my bed, and wait for the next step in all of this. I know it's going somewhere, like all good stories do. God put me here for a reason: Soon, I'll find out why.

My son likes to visit me. On this particular day, the pain was bad. The nurses told me so. They say they see it in my pupils, which dilate more than they should. And in the hesitancy with which I move, even the littlest amount.

If I'm asleep, Henry will remain oblivious. And I'll get the best kind of visit.

"She's so tired- Let's just leave the flowers and come back another day." That's his wife, Sharla.

"No. She still knows I'm here."

"She's asleep, not in a coma." She can be harsh. I believe she's nice, just that she was raised with a different definition of the word.

"You go," he said, and I felt his hand curl around mine. "I'm just going to sit with her a minute."


"I don't want her to be alone."

"She's alone all the time."

"I really feel like I should stay." I hear the sound of a kiss before she leaves the room, and then it's just me and my son, who has two sons and a daughter of his own.

Oh, how life has gone by. It was a fabulous one, I believe. Full of memories and stories, unique to me. I smile- God and I will have plenty to talk about.

"I saw that," Henry says. I think, for a moment, that my hoax is over, but realize he thinks he is still speaking to my dream mind. "Bet you're plotting something crazy in there. As soon as you get out of here, the rest of us are in for some pranks, aren't we?"

This is why I am asleep. When I'm awake, he worries, and I can see the doubt etched across his face. When I fake sleep, he can pretend. He tells me life will be just like it was; he has hope.

I want him to stop thinking that I am so alone, and beating himself up about it. I want him to believe that this is going to work out. Maybe not the way he wants it to, but it will work out. My life will go on, and be even more grand than ever before. Knowing this eases my pain and my sorrows, and my only wish is for him to let go. This life is just temporary.

I realize, a few minutes into his chatter about the kids, that I'm falling asleep, for real. I'm not tired, not even a little, but I feel the haze of dreams sinking into my mind. It's odd, sleep without exhaustion. So odd...

I realize with another smile that I'm not falling asleep- I'm waking up! My eyelids are the brightest red I've ever seen, yet the color is soft, warm, and inviting. 'How fitting,' I think, 'That the color we come into this world with- red, the color of love and passion- is the one that welcomes us into the next.'

A gentle touch is on my hand, and words of love are whispered in my ear. What I've known to be true my whole life is proven- I will never be alone.

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This article has been read 365 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ruth Brown10/09/09
Touching.I would have wanted to say a last word though.
Jan Ackerson 10/11/09
Beautifully, beautifully written.

There was one minor slip out of present tense into past tense...and I always wonder when I read stories like this--if she's dead, how's she writing it? But that's artistic license for you.

This is definitely one of the strongest entries on this level. Very well done.
Elizabeth White10/11/09
This is really good. I really enjoyed reading this. :-)
PamFord Davis 10/11/09
Illness and death touch us all. Thanks for a glimpse into the mind, heart, and soul of one who made the transition from the temporary residence to the eternal!
Noel Mitaxa 10/14/09
I appreciate your sensitive approach, for suggesting instead of trying to describe what's beyond description. Well done.
diana kay10/15/09
this is really good ! thanks for writing it.