I'm tired. Bone tired. The kind of tired that makes it difficult to get up in the morning and go to work or do anything else. I'm not writing much, either. I guess it's a kind of mild depression. God, I hope it goes away soon.
Anyway, this passage from an old work speaks to me of that same tired feeling. Maybe next week I'll have something new.
Please don't quote or repost anywhere. A first draft, and subject to change.
“The meaning of my life got lost somewhere between the moments, Carlie,” her mother said. “I can’t find myself anymore.”
Carlie stared at her mother, watched while her mother’s claw-like hands plucked restlessly at the dingy hospital sheets. Hospital white wasn’t the clear, pure white of snow, Carlie thought, but the off-white of the used and abused.
“You’re not lost, Mother,” Carlie said. “You’re right here, in this bed, in this hospital, right now.”
Her mother’s vacant gaze caused Carlie to look away. The lucid moments came and went with greater frequency now. Dr. Fanning had said it wouldn’t be much longer.
“No, I’m lost,” her mother said. “If you forgive me, I might know where to look.”
Carlie opened her mouth, but the words wouldn’t come. She tried to force them past her teeth, but all she did was let out a hiss of breath.
The flash of movement at the door caught her eye. Dr. Fanning stood in the doorway.
“And how are you fine ladies today?” he asked, voice cheerful in that false way some doctors have about them when talking to the walking dead.
“You tell me, you’re the doctor,” Carlie’s mother said.
“Now, Mrs. Andrews,” he said. “I’ll let you know the results of your tests when I get them back from the lab.”
“Don’t call her that,” Carlie said involuntarily.
Dr. Fanning raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“Don’t call her Mrs. Andrews.”
“Why not, Carlie?”
Carlie paused, said nothing. Somehow “because my father’s been dead for years” didn’t seem to be an adequate explanation.
“You can call me Annie,” her mother said. “That’s what people used to call me.” Her voice was wistful.
“Feeling pretty good, are we?” Dr. Fanning asked.
“Not so good. I hurt,” she said.
“Let’s check your heart, Annie,” Dr. Fanning said, pulling a ubiquitous stethoscope from under his coat.
Carlie slipped out, as much to escape as to give them privacy.
Long, empty corridors stretched on either side. It was so quiet the susurrus of the air conditioners sounded like wind sighing in the trees. It must be later than she thought. Hospital halls were rarely empty.
Carlie made several turns around the halls, moving around her mother’s room in a big circle, as if tied to a pole. The night shift nurses looked up as she passed their stations, and then dropped their eyes to the tasks in front of them, disinterested.
She found herself back at the door of her mother’s room. Annie slept fitfully, hair spread over the pillow. Carlie noted that it needed combed. She supposed that the funeral people would comb it. That was when the pain hit her, and she gasped aloud, startling her mother awake.
“What is it?” Annie said, fretful. “Who’s there?”
Carlie stepped back, turned, and fled to the bathroom down the hall. She lost the contents of her stomach, and leaned against the cool metal wall of the stall, and concentrated on just breathing.
Eventually, she made her way back to the sitting room not far from her mother’s room and lay down on the couch. She dozed. A hand touched her shoulder and she startled awake. One glance at Dr. Fanning’s face told her it was over. She had slept through her mother’s last moments.
A bubble of hysterical laughter tried to break free, but Carlie ruthlessly dug her nails into the palms of her hands until the impulse to laugh disappeared. No use giving the hospital staff the impression she might be as insane as her mother.