Jaidyn Groth, Grade 9, Albury High School
Merit in the 'Writers Wanted - July 2011 - Step Write Up' competition
He waited in his hospital bed. Thin, cylindrical tubes threaded out of his body in curls and swirls. His breathing was husky and wisps of air flooded his hollow, dying lungs. He spluttered when he spoke and sleep was rare for the dying man.
He regretted many things, as he looked back at his empty life. He regretted never taking risks, always living the safe life. He lamented the fact that his family had deserted him, when he needed them most; that, because of his selfish, repressed attitude towards life, his loved ones had ignored his call of need.
Now, he sat in a bed, wheezing and choking, remembering all the things he did and did not do. He recalled the time when his daughter was born and the time his family and he travelled around the country, watching the landscape change, almost, every hour. He recalled the time when his wife passed; the tears that had swelled in his eyes and had died, only, now that he, himself, was on his death bed. The tears followed him, throughout his vacant life. Tears, droplets of water that drizzled down his pale, wrinkled cheeks and lingered on his jaw bone, before disappearing into his pores. He had summoned these tears often; when his daughter had married, when his wife had passed away, when he had been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and now, when his family and friends refused to acknowledge his death.
He had little time left when several men and women burst into the room. The woman curled against a man, sobbing, loudly, listening to the beep of the heart monitor. Two men stood around the bed and an elderly woman, crouched beside him, tears, glistening in her bright, blue eyes.
He opened his eyes and looked at his loved ones, who had, finally, arrived. He felt his essence of life disintegrating, every second. He gasped and, slowly, the tips of his mouth curled into a smile.
He had one piece of advice, he wished to tell everyone, before, he passed on.
“Don’t regret life,” he wheezed, retrieving everyone’s attention. “Take risks and never, ever turn down an opportunity,” he added, spluttering.
Tears soaked everyone’s faces, including, his own. He gasped as, in turn, they said their goodbyes. They choked and cried, hard, showing him how much they appreciated him and…loved him.
So, at last, he could rest in peace. One regret was gone, but, many riddled his mind, their envious, dark words penetrating his brain and making him cry, harder. But, they no longer mattered. His family and friends were with him and when he sucked in his terminal breath, he no longer cared about the blank pages in his memory.