TW: hospitals, AIDS crisis, death, grief.
Tongues tangling into teeth. Lips wavering, trembling, hands unsteady and working with a language they don’t know. I can hear your thoughts, frantic with misery, you just missed him, you just missed him.
It’s been two hours since time of death.
I’m nobody. Not really. I’m a medical coder, not even somebody who belongs on a hospital floor or talking to patients or patients’ families.
But I can’t not feel it. Your thoughts are open like a book, silent face an involuntary cloak over the tangle of threads below. I should have called him sooner, says the regret. He can’t be dead, there must be some mistake, says the denial. So many of us have died, says the bleak and bitter acceptance, the numbing white frost that starts to spread.
I sit down next to you. Hands on your shoulders, an attempt at comfort. He voices something, and I can’t hear it, but I see the impression of it on his lips even before the thoughts reach me, the sudden fear. Fear on top of everything else.
You haven’t been tested yet, hovering in the ambiguity in some attempt to save yourself. Ignorance is bliss, but that fear is still there. So I breathe in, and exhale a spark that drifts between all the ribbons and wires interlacing and constricting around your heart. A suggestion, quiet and unobtrusive, that this is not the end. That he will never leave you, and that’s okay. That memorializing a name instead of a statistic is the greatest honour you can give.
In your mind, he lived for two hours longer. Those two hours are yours, forever. Even if you forget about them, I won’t. I remember every single one of us, and I remember your names written in stone. I remember. I remember.
This was originally written for Inktober for the prompt ‘Tangled’ and posted on my Patreon. For more information on the Alkimiaverse, check out http://alkimiafables.wordpress.com.