29Z 426

Janice was used to the sounds by now. The beeps and whooshes had a rhythm she could feel. It was the percussion of her husband, still alive.

For twenty-nine days she’d watched his body slowly heal, and his eyes remain closed. Occasionally, she’d spy the flutter of REM sleep, but she was never quite sure. She hoped he dreamed.

Already, close friends were asking, in suddenly hushed whispers, was she going to remarry? Was she going to move on? Was she just going to be a coma-wife?

She never did it knowingly, but her reaction caused companions to recoil in embarrassment, never mentioning it again. She did notice, afterwards, that they ceased asking how he was.

She glanced at the clock: 4:25 pm. Ages ago, they would have been watching football; she cheering louder than he, he complaining louder than she.

Laughing. Kissing. Sleeping. Not sleeping.

He was still here, but he was completely gone.

“Ben,” she sighed. She squeezed his hand and released. Then, for the first time in 29 days, he didn’t.

It was 4:26.

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