Our prompt this week:
“I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”
I have to make sure this never happens.
The fluorescent lighting of the hospital room made him look ghastly. Not that the decrepit man in front of me needed much help. His skin was blotchy and struggling to hang on to its skeleton. His mouth hung askew, a poor sluice for the saliva collecting on his gown. A mechanical pump was delivering a beige goo directly into the man’s stomach. Mine lurched.
The near-corpse finally noticed me.
“Is your name Carsten Winfield?”
The man nodded. His eyes followed as I pulled out my wallet and removed a photo. If you weren’t there when it was taken, you’d probably think it was one of those accidental shots of one’s arm while trying to raise the camera. But I was there, my arm revealing a faint red mark where I had cut. My therapist would have called it superficial. To me, it was the first day I started living.
No one had ever seen the photo. I held it up for him.
He squinted his eyes, blinked. Then he recoiled.
A nurse entered the room. “Carsten has a visitor! Friend, family?”
“Family. I’ll be leaving soon.”
“Unlike Carsten here,” she said dismissively, checking the gastric pump.
“Do you know where I can get a DNR form?” I placed the photo in my jacket pocket.
“We have them at the nurse’s station. But I’m afraid it’s too late for that.” Her ability to remain monotone was chilling.
“Actually, it’s for me…” I said, as if she was listening. “Thank you.” I glanced one more time at the depressing man before me. I reaffirmed my vow and left the room.
“Sir? You forgot your wallet…”
The nurse would check my wallet for identification. She would do a double-take when she read the name on the ID. She would try to track me down to ask me about it. But I, Carsten Winfield, was already gone.
K: Gorgeous. It was smart, the characters were well-drawn and the payoff was fun (if a tad overexplained). This is one of my favorite ultra-short stories in a while. GOLD
DG: Too much explanation in that last paragraph. I think the plot itself is pretty good, to me, it needed to focus a bit more on why characters did what they did, and a little on less on reporting what they did. BRONZE
Somehow, this launched me into a tie for second place.