Next

I wonder what is behind the next door.

I wonder this, as I sit by my cousin whose hand is on the doorknob.

I want to talk to him directly, out loud, and am slightly ashamed at my lack of courage, and once I begin am slightly embarrassed when mid-sentence my throat closes off a bit and I’m unable to continue.  Deep breaths, close my eyes, begin again.

Last week, it mattered what I said.  I talked about the pictures I found – pictures of him and his older sister with my sisters from before I was born, all goofy toothy smiles and really bad matchy outfits.  He would have laughed, if able.  I think he laughed somewhere deep inside.  He squeezed my hand.  He took my hand to his cheek.  No words come anymore, and eyes won’t open.  But the left hand, it works okay.

All week I wondered about being trapped in one’s body.  I thought he might get bored, might get frustrated at being imprisoned in his body.  I had daydreams about getting a wheelchair and careening with him down the nearby trails, slick from rain and smelling thick with mouldering fallen leaves.  I thought about which book I would pick to read aloud.  I planned which music to download.

But things changed, so very quickly.  There’s no more squeezing hands.  There’s a heavy fever, and morphine to ease the pain.  Few hours left, and with my aunt sat watching his fitful sleep.

No, today it doesn’t matter what I said.  His mind is already preoccupied with what’s beyond that door.  He can’t hear me; he’s ready to pivot his wrist then push.

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