By Frank C. Modica
The fluorescent lights in the emergency room washed out all the colors around me. I could hear the dull hum of the ventilation system, and I felt annoyed by its incessant vibrations. As I looked at the beeping monitors on the wall, the ER nurse asked if I wanted to spend some time alone with my wife. I moved my lips but no sound came. He quietly walked out of the room. She lay on the stretcher, partially covered with a white sheet. I had last talked to her six hours ago, before she went to take a shower, before I found her sprawled on the bathroom floor, before I performed CPR on her flushed, warm lips. I touched both her cheeks, the first time I had touched her since leaving the house. Her face felt like the marble skin of a cemetery angel. Ignoring the plastic intubation tube taped to the side of her mouth, I bent down, closed my eyes, and kissed her lips. A long kiss.
Frank C Modica is a retired special education teacher living in Urbana, Illinois with his dog, Nero. He volunteers with a number of local arts and social service organizations. His work has been published in Black Heart Magazine, Pegasus, Crab Fat Literary Magazine, and The Tishman Review.