General Fiction posted July 25, 2021

This work has reached the exceptional level
Is it ever too late to apologize?

Words Don't Mean Much

by Tpa

            Tears glistened her pallid cheeks. Her eyelids fluttered like wings of a butterfly as she mumbled words I couldn’t distinguish. Softly, I touched her shoulder. “Everything will be okay,” I said.

            My heart shattered into a thousand pieces. I know the seasons of our lives are soon ending..

            I sat at her bedside, admiring her heart-shaped face I fell in love with long ago.

          We were in the spring of our lives, blossoming together with roads of adventure and happiness before us, not knowing the storms ahead, storms I created.
          I softly laid my hand on hers. I tried bearing good thoughts of our lives, the joyful times, moments of nostalgia when an avalanche of tears of laughter rolled down our cheeks. Instead, a black cloud always blanketed my thoughts like a hurricane saturating the land with disaster, reminding me of the bad deeds I had done.    

       The tips of my fingers eased up and down along her frail forearm. I stopped at her elbow, where a needle, covered by gauze, was inserted into her clammy skin. The needle lay attached to a thin plastic tubing where morphine flowed from a plastic bag hooked to a tall metal stand beside her bed. The opioid medication decreased the pain penetrating her bones.

          But, some pain never goes away.
           “Cookie,” I whimpered.

            She opened her woeful eyes and saw me sitting at her bedside. She curled her dry, thin lips into a smile, once so sparkling it could light up the heavens above. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I kissed her forehead.

           I’m weak inside, unable to cast away the demons that intruded our lives and brought us sorrow with no time for restoration. I'm weeping because of the path I had taken and the destruction I had caused, but most of all, the treasure I’m losing.

             Her eyes close as her chest slowly rises and falls.

            Tomorrow is our eighteenth wedding anniversary. We are celebrating it at St. Catherine’s Hospice, the final residence for Cancer victims. The room is small. It has only a bed and a worn-out recliner. Occasionally, I look out the bay window to a manicured lawn and see the tall pine trees behind a garden of red roses and yellow tulips.

             I prayed many times for Cookie’s recovery. He is not answering His door, at least not for me. I can’t blame Him.
             I recall those years when Cookie and I engaged in quarrels created by my flaws. I kept repeating them, and so were my words. I’m sorry. Those words were worthless, like giving her a vase of wilted flowers.

            I remember I had lost money at the races. Money, she had saved for a trip to California, to visit her family and celebrate her grandmother’s ninetieth birthday. I apologized, but receiving forgiveness was like cutting a steak with a butter knife. Weeks of icy stares and silence made me regret that day at the races. She finally granted me pardon but, I consumed too lightly. Days ahead, my gambling continued. I promised her again and again I would stop. It never did..

             I’m sorry”. I repeated so many times.

            Cookie forgave me every time. Or maybe she just gave up. How many times can you beat a rug to rid of all its dirt still, the stain remains?

            We became strangers. We lived together, ate our meals, even slept together. but, we were still strangers. I received help, although my desires never stopped, nor my promises never kept.   

            The nurse walks into the room. She smiles at me and ambles to the metal stand and replaces the depleted bag of morphine with a filled one. The doctors wanted Cookie to always have the pain medication, especially to comfort her final moments..

            The nurse completes her task. She looks at her patient. From the nightstand beside the bed, the nurse takes a white washcloth and wipes the tears from Cookie’s pale cheeks. She discards the cloth into a gray basket against the wall. She rechecks the stream of morphine flowing through the tube. After completing her duties, she started exiting the room..

            “May I get you something, water or juice?” she says with a Filipino accent.

            I shake my head. The lump in my throat makes it difficult to speak. I lower my head to avoid her watching the tears burning in my eyes.

           She walks out of the room.

           I have only one desire. The opportunity to tell Cookie of my regrets, of my lies and her heartaches.

            “Cookie.” I look at her closed eyes. “Please, my darling come back to me. One more chance to hold you in my arms, kiss your sweet lips, and never have to tell you, I’m sorry.”

           I feel her hand gently squeezing my finger, and then her soft touch fades away. Suddenly. her chest no longer rises or falls. Her pain has gone. I wipe away her final tears as mine begins.



I wish to thank seshadri_sreenivasan for the beautiful artwork. My story is a flash fiction up to 1,000 words with the theme of time, showing how precious it can be.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by seshadri_sreenivasan at

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