“Will it hurt?”
“Only as much as it hurts now, Mom. Does it -”
“No, no – the drugs are working fine,” a faint smile, but then serious, “but that’s not what I meant. When your grandmother came here I saw something in her eyes – a shadow – a dark one. It was only for a moment, but it was her last. I think about it more and more often. Will it get me too?
Her voice trembled at the end a little but I found myself wondering again how she could sound so … together when she looked like that! Her body was the raisin to my white-fleshed grape, seeming almost like a stain on the crisp white sheets.
I didn’t know anything about this dark shadow, though. As far as I knew, Grannie had gone peacefully. Perhaps the meds were affecting Mom’s mind – still, I was curious.
“What do you mean?”
Her eyes unfocused and she seemed to sink into the pillow. Something caught in my throat. The nurse was slumped at the other side of the room, perhaps checking her Facebook, unconcern rising from her like an oily bubble.
I moved closer to my mom, revulsion rising in me despite myself as I caught the smell of it on her – eating her from the inside. I searched her distant eyes, desperately trying to find a connection.
My heart lurched as her eyes snapped into focus and locked onto mine, eyes filled with … something bad. She was trapped, a snarling beast fighting for life.
A short heartbeat and she fell back again. The terror was gone – her face almost sweet in repose. But as I closed her eyes gently for the last time, tears prickling in mine, I felt something twist inside me – something that crouched in the darkness – something that that waited patiently there for me. Something very bad.