This is the second installment of I, Death, and the third part of the story. To read the previous installment be sure to click here. Part 3 The white halls didn’t seem as closed in
This is the second installment of I, Death, and the third part of the story. To read the previous installment be sure to click here.
The white halls didn’t seem as closed in as when she first arrived. The chaos seemed subdued. The pressure in the E.R. had let up.
Ella felt lighter.
Danny and Dana kept a vigil over their parents. She walked to them and placed a hand on their heads.
“It will be okay,” she assured the pair.
Danny stared, lost. Dana took her brother’s hand and nuzzled her head against his. Their parents were connected to clear plastic tubes: IV fluids, respirators, and sedatives.
“Ms. Ella?” Danny asked.
“Can we stay with my mommy and daddy?”
The kids needed to move on, that was a given. But, giving closure was her duty. Dana looked so much like a younger version of her. There was so much they wouldn’t get to do: school, friends, life, with all its light and darkness. Her eyes went to the room number, 14.
It was the same room she was wheeled into, where the doctors tried to bring her back, where they pumped her stomach, injected IV’s, administered CPR. Everything. So much effort for nothing. So much effort put forth to save an idiot.
The siblings hugged her and went about their silent vigil. Ella patted them on their heads.
“Just call me if you need me, okay,” she said.
“We will,” Dana said.
Ella turned away and walked through the hallway, passed people waiting on a bed for a room, coughing, moaning in agony.
The air grew heavier, like deep water.
Ahead of her was an older woman being rushed into an empty room.
“Mrs. Jenson, keep your eyes open. Don’t fall asleep,” a nurse said.
Ella caught a glimpse of pure white hair and a purple blouse. The fragrance of freshly baked cookies and lavender came to her.
Mrs. Jenson? Oh, not you now.
She rushed into the room, where the nurses scurried to place an IV and ready a defibrillator. Mrs. Jenson’s eyes stared at the ceiling.
“Mrs. Jenson, stay with us.”
“Not you, too,” Ella said to herself.
“Pulse is dropping!”
A doctor dressed in the usual white readied the defibrillator, rubbing the two paddles together.
Mrs. Jenson’s body jerked.
They tried it again.
“She’s already gone,” Ella screamed to no avail.
“Ella?” said a familiar voice.
She looked to her left. A much younger Mrs. Jenson stood beside her.
“It’s me, Mrs. Jenson.”
“Honey, I’m so sorry I couldn’t help you. I just didn’t know,” Mrs. Jenson started to cry.
“It’s my fault.”
“It’s that damned brother of yours.”
The truth struck like lightning. She forgot all about Brandon. It all came rushing back: the constant text messages, the snide comments, and ultimately what caused her relationship with Vicky to end, him. It was Brandon who contacted Vicky and convinced her to end the relationship. Even then, the comments didn’t stop. Brandon’s newfound faith changed him for the better and made him the worst. It was like someone else wore his skin and spoke with his voice, but the new Brandon had infinitely more venom inside him.
“I’d rather forget about him,” Ella said.
Mrs. Jenson’s arms wrapped around her shoulders, “I can’t apologize enough.”
Her hands went numb, they felt as if they had swollen. It seemed as if her hands were not attached at all. Ella stared at them as if they still held the pills, as if they still held the cup that ended everything.
Mom, I’m sorry. If I could take it all back, I would. I was weak, and I still am.
Ella twisted around and wrapped her arms around Mrs. Jenson.
“It’s okay, dear.”
“I feel it is.”
Words had formed on her tongue but turned into vapor on her lips.
“Oh, Christ, put those things lower, you might get a reaction. I haven’t felt anything down there in decades,” Mrs. Jenson shouted, then laughed.
Ella laughed, too.
“You should see your father, dear.”
A chill went down her back, her muscles tensed. Mrs. Jenson’s eyes widened; her lips parted some.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought him up.”
“It’s okay. I should see him. I almost forgot what he looks like.”
“He was never the same since he lost you and your mother. I’m not sure about Brandon. I could never get a read on him.”
“He’s a monster,” Ella said. “And nothing else.”
Mrs. Jenson placed a hand on her cheek as she used to do when they were both still alive. Her muscles relaxed, and a warmth spread though her. A tear formed and dripped down, but before she could wipe it away herself, Mrs. Jenson did so.
“Why are you still here, darling?”
“I’m helping those who just died come to terms and guiding them to the other side.”
Mrs. Jenson’s eyebrows furrowed for a moment, then relaxed as she seemed to understand.
“So, I’m not going to Hell?”
“No. But, I’m not sure how to explain it. Hell exists, but it was created later.”
“I’m not following.”
“I don’t have a good grasp on it either.”
Ella’s spiritual guide gave her more information. What humanity calls Hell is a psychic space created by the collective conscience of humans. It did not exist until humanity tried to understand creation. It is a dream space.
Ella tilted her head. “I get it now.”
“Hell is something people made up.”
Mrs. Jenson still looks perplexed, but something in her eyes gave Ella reassurance that she would understand.
“I figured it was a story,” she chuckled. “But, is it all right if I see my Nathan one more time?”
“Do we have to walk?”
Ella let out a laugh. “No, no.” She took Mrs. Jenson’s hands into her own. “Now, close your eyes, and think of the place you want to be.”
Ella channeled an old lesson from Death, and she used it to transport herself and Mrs. Jenson. The ER room blurred as if disintegrating and from the particles came other furniture: a bed, a dresser, end tables. The room looked like time had left it behind, once white wallpaper with flowers on it had become detached from the wall. The dressers and end tables had seen better days, decades even. Scratches and leftover fragments of scotch tape were scattered here and there. The ceiling fan spun overhead. Mr. Jenson was upright on the bed and supported by pillows. His breathing was labored, but she knew he still had life in him.
Mrs. Jenson walked to him, knelt at the bedside and touched his hand. With her other hand, she wiped away her tears. Mr. Jenson’s eye flittered open, then focused on his hand.
“Nate. I’m sorry. This was my last after dinner stroll.”
A tear rolled down Mr. Jenson’s cheek. Then, his other hand rose to her face.
“I…love…you,” he said, weak.
Mrs. Jenson rose and kissed him. He looked around the room.
“He can’t see you anymore, Mrs. Jenson.”
Her hands fell to her side, then she turned to Ella, defeat etched into her very skin. “Will he be okay?” Mrs. Jenson stood up and took a step back.
Nathan struggled to move, but he did move. He moved his leg off the bed, moved the other until he sat upright on his own. He touched his lips, looked up, then picked up the landline phone. His fingers trembled as he pressed the buttons.
“How long do I have to wait?”
Ella knew Mr. Jenson had only another two years to live. However, time meant nothing to the dead. To her, a few months felt like the minute it took to write and send a text message.
“You won’t have to wait long.”
“I hope so,” she said and looked at her husband as he dialed numbers, his voice breaking as he spoke. “I love you, Nate. I’ll wait however long it takes.” Mrs. Jenson fell silent for a moment. “I’m ready to go now.”
“Okay. Let’s head outside.”
Ella led the way into the hallway and into the kitchen. When they got to the living room, Mrs. Jenson asked her to wait a moment. She stared at all the photos on the walls that captured forty years of marriage, three children, four grandchildren.
“They’ll be okay,” she said after a pause.
A smile formed on Mrs. Jenson’s face. Ella led the way outside.
“So, how does this work? Do I get beamed up?”
“How do you feel?”
“Like I don’t weight anything.”
“Push off the ground.”
“It’s that easy?”
Mrs. Jenson looked confused, but she focused her attention upward. “Here goes nothing.”
She jumped and kept rising until Ella lost sight of her. The stars twinkled, a swath of dust and glowing gas cut across the sky. Ella felt a difference in weight, the tension released. The sounds of the nearby road faded into nothingness, embraced by a merciful silence.
It was broken by a plane overhead. Ella remembered when Mom, Dad, Brandon, and her would venture to the airport, just to watch the planes take off and land. She recalled the joy she felt when she went on her first plan ride at fourteen. The travel bug bit her and never let go.
Dad. . .
To Be Continued…