My Published Flash Fiction
This piece of flash fiction was published in my college literary journal, The Fulcrum, during the spring of my senior year. I hope you enjoy it.
My Wife’s Aunt
by Sarah Schneekoth
I kept my arm around my second wife’s shoulders. I hadn’t seen a single tear through this whole ordeal, though tears were no stranger to her. A nurse walked through the wide hospital doorway balancing an old lady by her frail arm. My wife’s aunt, Janet, was wearing white pants and a white shirt that camouflaged her against the bare walls. I’d only met this aunt once before. They suspected she had a mild case of Alzheimer’s but personally I think that was just their way of coming to terms with her personality. One thing was for sure, she couldn’t take care of herself, so they’d put her in an assisted living home right after her husband’s stroke. We picked her up at the two story house today, which was very nice but smelled like someone burned a dozen different flavored candles every day.
“Janet, it’s Henry’s time,” my wife said. “If you want to say anything to him this is the time to do it.”
“What do I got to say to him?”
“In a few minutes the doctors are going to come in here and shut off his life support. This is the last time you’ll see him.” This room had a funny smell.
“He can’t hear me anyway.”
My wife stepped toward her aunt, causing my arm to drop. “The doctors say there is a good chance he can hear us.”
“Are you that shallow, honey?” She shook her head. This room smelled of bleach. With everything in the room being solid white I guess that makes sense.
Janet took a few shaky steps towards her husband’s bed and placed her hand on top of his. “Well, Henry,” she stole a quick panoramic view of his stiff body as she tapped his hand. “You’ve left me in quite the predicament here.”
My wife seemed be studying the white linoleum. Although my view from just inside the doorway only showed me her back, she didn’t move a muscle at these words that about knocked me over.
“Quite the predicament,” Janet repeated.
“We’re going to go get the doctor now so they can put Henry to sleep. Is that alright, Janet?”
“Do I have to stay?”
“You-you don’t want to be with him?”
“I’m not going to do any good here. He’s gone with or without me. I’m going to the car.”
“You don’t want to say goodbye to your husband?” my wife asked Janet as she struggled to get across the room without someone holding her arm. She stopped in the middle of the room and stared at my wife for a long moment. I swear I could smell something beneath the bleach. This made me wonder what kind of mess happened in this room requiring so much bleach to clean up. Janet finally turned toward her husband’s bed and said, “See you later, Henry.” This time I saw my wife’s jaw drop as Janet continued across the room. She halted in the doorway and turned to me with narrowed eyes.
“Do you have a cigarette?” she asked.