Stay or Go (Flash Fiction)

As the machines hooked to his body began to alarm and nurses rushed in to respond, Bob felt his spirit lift ever so lightly from his body. While he drifted above the room, the torrent of pain that imprisoned him in his own flesh faded. He looked with eyes that could see once more, free from swelling and blind spots caused by shattered glass. His wife and son were in the corner. His son, older now, grown into his own manhood, clenched to his mother like the boy he once was, and tears rolled down their faces. They could see the stress clinging to the hurrying nurses. They were barely noticed by the doctor that came rushing in.

Bob looked and saw what they saw. Tubes and drips and wires all connected to him like some profane marriage between machine and man. His face was bruised and bloodied and looked like a rotten plum. His chest heaved from the forced air of the ventilator. A doctor shone a light into his eyes while a nurse read off his falling blood pressure with increased alarm. The white sheets covering his body were sporadically dotted with blood.

Then, a white glow that only Bob could see spread across the room. Before him, an orb appeared, glorious in its peacefulness. Bob felt no fear and knew immediately what it was. It was a guide, and it had come to rescue him from his awful binding. It had come to set him free.

You were in a crash, it communicated. A head-on collision.

Bob tried to remember, but couldn’t. He looked to his family again and saw the agony of his dying body bloom across their faces. Is it time for me to go now? he responded.

The orb hovered next to him, and together they took in the scene. Your body is failing, it said, but the decision still rests with you. You can release yourself from the pain now or stay, live, and endure. The choice is yours.

A great peace emanated from the orb, and Bob knew that neither decision would be judged or held against him. It was purely for to him to decide. He watched as the nurses prepared his body for defibrillation. The room was becoming more frantic, and Bob noticed he could no longer hear its sounds.

Your time to decide, however, is limited. You must choose. The orb hovered. Stay or go.

In the corner of the room, as if being consumed by the darkness of the coming night, his son held his mother close while she buried her face. It seemed the eyes of his wife couldn’t watch while his son was unable to look away.

A nurse charged the pads and pressed them to his broken chest. His body lurched up from the bed as voltage was applied.

Stay or go.

Bob looked to his family again, and their sorrow pierced the serenity he felt while awaiting to cross over to that other place. He felt wrong to leave. It felt wrong to abandon his pain when there was no offer to spare them from their own. The nurse charged the pads again. “Stay,” Bob said, and in an instant the orb vanished, his spirit snapped back into the core of his broken bones, and he felt the searing pain of voltage racing through his chest.

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