Flash Lit Challenge #7: Signs of Life

“No changes yet, I’m afraid.” Lucas straightened and tucked his stethoscope into a coat pocket.

“How much longer until we know?” Vanessa asked, craning her neck to look up at him from the bedside chair.

“Hard to say.” Lucas shook his head. “Could be hours. Could be days. And…” He paused, his eyes softening. “…you should know there’s a possibility he won’t come out of it.”

Vanessa squeezed Leo’s pale, cold fingers between her hands as if she could will some of her own life into them.

“I’m not trying to be cruel, I just don’t want you to get your hopes up.”

Vanessa nodded. “I understand. You should get some rest. I’ll sit with him.”

“Just make sure he is not left alone. Call me if—when he wakes. He will be disoriented, and you may need help to calm him.”

With a last reassuring smile, Lucas left Vanessa alone with the still figure on the bed. Needing something to do, she fussed about him for a bit: sponging his cool skin with a damp, warm cloth; tucking an extra heated blanket around his body; checking the bandage over his wound even though it had just been changed. The bleeding had stopped, and she wondered whether that was a good sign or bad.

When she could think of no other tasks that seemed needful, she sat again. She stroked his hair and spoke of her fondest memories of their whirlwind romance, and of the long and happy life they would share together.

“All you have to do is wake up, Leo.” She dabbed at her eyes, not wanting to stain the sheets with her tears. “Please wake up soon.”

She woke with a start hours later, judging from the angle of the light through the crevice at the edge of the window shade. She had fallen asleep slumped over the bed, her head resting on his shoulder, and some movement or sound had awoken her.

She placed a hand over his chest, relieved to feel the slow, steady thump of his heart. Was it her imagination that his skin felt warmer?

“Nhhgghnhh.”

“Leo?”

Another low, raspy moan rattled out of his chest. Vanessa reached for the call button and stabbed at it viciously.

“Leo! It’s me, can you hear me?”

His response was barely audible, and took several tries to get out. “Thirsty.”

“I called for the doctor, let’s just—”

“Thirsty!” This was louder and more urgent; his head thrashed weakly on the pillow.

“Of course, darling.” Vanessa cast around for what she needed, finally finding it on a counter by the sink. “Hold on, I’m coming!”

She drew the lancet across her wrist until blood ran in red streams down her arm, then supported his head as she offered it to him. He latched on and suckled like an eager baby. Which, in a sense, he was.

“We’ll be so happy together, my love,” she whispered, and this time her pink tears were ones of happiness. “Forever.”

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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