So Thy Days May be Long

By: Nina Zumel

His mother is dying. He stands in her sterile white hospital room, a needle in his hand. Can he do this? He can’t even boil a crab without a twinge of regret.

Tubes snake into her nostrils and down her trachea. Behind her, machines beep and lights blink. The clock on the wall ticks away the seconds, the minutes, the hours.

This is what she wants, he knows that. At least, he thinks he does. What if she changed her mind? This helpless wisp in the bed doesn’t even resemble the mother he remembers. Why would he think he still knows her thoughts?

By her bedside, he waits for a sign. But there is no sign.

The IV tube feeds the vein in her right arm, her emaciated arm that will never link with his again, whether he does this or not. He has only his own limbs now, hands that tremble as they insert the needle into the feeding tube. He takes a deep breath.

“I love you, Mom.”

Then he guides the plunger home.