Fiction Sad Speculative

I forgot to tell him.

I forgot to tell him that the night sky is too dark when he’s not holding me.

I forgot to tell him that I don’t know how to breathe without him.

I forgot to tell him he is the sun.

I forgot to tell him.

Staring out the window, there was nothing but darkness, grief and the smell of sickness. The reflection of nurses hurrying past the reflection of parked cars in the lot down below. The waiting room. The fucking waiting room. It had been 9 hours; what could possibly be happening back there?


It doesn’t feel like 2am, but the light is always artificial anyway. The parking lot outside is much quieter than during the day, and there is too much silence in the hallways. Footsteps and whispering. The sound of clattering clipboards. I guess it’s good if it’s quiet - I mean, no emergencies, but… no.

I can barely remember the time before this, when we weren’t at the hospital at least once each week. I know it must have happened because I know we both used to be alive.


Seven months ago, he collapsed. I was sautéing yellow onions and yellow bell peppers in a yellow room. A Latin song was playing on the Google mini. It was raining outside. He grabbed me by my waist from behind and spun me to face him. He started swaying us both back and forth. I remember thinking how my body always melded into his. The way I wished it had been with so many other men, but never believed in. But he was…

Then his face turned white. His eyes glazed over. He slacked for half a moment, then tried to lean on me for half another, and then his eyes rolled back and he fell to the ground. He was wearing a purple v-neck t-shirt that day. And his favorite jeans. I’ve always loved his legs.

The doctors at first thought it was a cardiac episode. But then they did a CT and an MRI. After, a nurse who looked alarmed took several samples of his blood. He looked okay... except the hospital gown and the bracelet and the IV and the monitors. He laughed at me and told me I looked too worried, running his free hand gently down my left cheek. He made a joke about how it was probably just my bad cooking that landed him in here. But it wasn’t.

The morning after he collapsed, an oncologist came in. The moment the nurse said the word -


I knew the white noise outside the windows wasn’t rain. It was the rattling hiss of death, mimicking lungs that can no longer take in air freely. It was coming for us. After, the only words I heard: 





and then I collapsed.


Barely listening to calls and announcements over the PA system, barely smelling the sour coffee sat on the nurses' desk, barely breathing on my own, I can’t stop thinking about the day we had to shave his head. He laughed and said he’d look better this way anyhow. Lex Luthor vibes, he said. But when we accidentally locked eyes in the mirror, me stood above and behind him, him sat in a dining chair we always brought to the bathroom when I’d cut his hair before all this, we almost fell apart. I watched his eyes turn shiny and wet. I felt myself tense up to swallow the wail that had been sat in my stomach since that Tuesday morning 6 weeks before when they’d told us he had kidney cancer.

Turns out kidney cancer is really fuckin’ quiet. It has almost no symptoms in its early stages, while it’s invading the blood. And now we were too late. Bones. Stomache. Brain. Liver.

And now we were too late. At night, when I can’t sleep, he puts his arms around me and whispers in my ear - 


My eyes are always wet now. But he only cried that one time. In the bathroom, his head half-shaved, looking at me looking at him and holding my hand against his face. Just that one time.


In June we had made it a full month past his initial prognosis. But things were starting to change. Sometimes he couldn’t remember things. Once it was how to tie his shoes. Then it was forgetting to turn off burners on the stove. Then, one day, there was half a moment in the kitchen at breakfast when he lost me. I saw it. I saw him forget who I was and then I saw him recognize me again. That was the day we made the pact.

We promised each other that every day, no matter what, we would tell each other who we were to each other and how we were so in love. So he wouldn’t lose us completely, and so I wouldn’t lose myself as I watched him leave his body, ever so slowly.

Later that week, he vomited blood for the first time.

Later that month, he had a seizure. He was wearing a gown and a bracelet that day. He had fainted the night before, so we were already in the hospital. We’re always in a hospital.

An alarm down the hall shakes me out of my memories and I turn my head to make sure it’s not from his room. It isn’t. I look back to the window, and now all I see is an exhausted, grieving woman with unkempt hair and no makeup. She looks bereaved. She looks lonely.

But he isn’t even gone yet.

But he might be.

And I forgot to tell him.


Last month, we got the hospice bed. He’d lived two months past his initial prognosis. No one knew why. Watching uniforms I didn’t know place a death bed in my living room and lift him from his wheelchair and into the bed, I lost it. He looked at me, pleading with me not to spiral. But I couldn’t not spiral. I couldn’t look at the bed. I couldn’t look back at him.

I cried in the bathroom, slumped against a blue wall. Remembering what he looked like in my favorite of his blue jeans, back when he could still walk. Dabbing my eyes at the edges with a blue towel. I sniffled, fixed my hair and walked back out. He was lain in the bed, watching Tik Tok on his phone, laughing. He looked up at me, set his phone down and said nothing, never breaking eye contact. I overflowed - burst the way a dam would. Sobbing, I ran to him and threw myself next to him on the hospice bed. He put his arms around me and tried to quell my heaving. And he told me. I was the love of his life. His best friend. He never knew he could be this happy. He would love me forever.


I slept in the hospice bed with him every night, curled up next to his body, which became just a little bit colder, a little bit bonier, a little bit less, each night. I slept in the hospice bed with him, every night until this night.


They didn't let me see him after the ER. He was barely present when they took him. He looked like a painting. He looked like a ghost. White sheet, white face, white room, white coats. There was no color left in his face. I knew when they took him that there was no color left in my life...

I forgot to tell him.

He won’t remember unless I tell him. He hasn’t remembered in weeks.

He hasn’t eaten in weeks.

He hasn’t walked in weeks.

But he has never forgotten to tell me. Not once. Even the days where he’s not sure who either of us are at all.

And I am snapped back out of my thoughts again by a coat and a clipboard asking for my name. The voice of the coat and the clipboard tells me it’s very sorry, but - 


And then the wail finally came. I heard a woman making an unholy, un-human sound. It pervaded the hallways, the rooms, the building itself. It surrounded me. And when I realized it was me, I stopped. Abruptly. There was nothing. I was nothing.

I forgot to tell him.



June 11, 2021 20:34

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