“Gasp” by Jack Coey

There was an old woman by the bed, and the doctor said he wouldn’t last the night, and a younger man sitting in a chair in the corner of the room which was mostly dark who seemed to be thinking of something else. The man lying in bed breathed in a labored way, and the woman watched him. The man restlessly moved in the chair, and looked for the remote on the window ledge, and turned off the TV.
“He is watching,” she said. He was in middle-age; the son.
“The Red Sox’s are losing,” he murmured. They listened to the raspy breathing.
“Doesn’t sound good,” he said.
“You don’t have to say that,” she said. The son shifted in the chair. He looked out the slats in the window. The woman stayed looking at the man.
“Isaac do you want some water?”
“Mom, he can’t answer you,” said the son. She angrily looked at her son.
“He can hear me, he knows I’m here,” she said. The son started to say something, but stopped.
Dad hired the best violin teacher in the county for me, and saw I practiced daily, and wanted me to go to Juilliard in New York, and the day of my audition was the most important day of my life, and when the rejection came in the mail, I wanted to tell Dad I gave the best audition I could, but Dad didn’t talk to me about it, and when the letter came rewarding me with a scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music, it wasn’t enough, it didn’t make up for the disappointment I had given Dad..
Isaac raised a hand, and his wife got up, and went to the sink, and filled a plastic cup with water, and brought it to her husband, and put it to his lips.
“Enough Isaac?” and she wiped his forehead with her hand.
“Ma, when did you eat last?”
“Never mind about me.”
The man stood up.
“I’m going to the cafeteria. Can I get you anything?”
“Never mind about me.”
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, he thought. He left the room, and an old nurse came in
“Resting comfortably?” she asked.
The woman smiled, and the nurse left. The woman stood up and approached the bed like an altar. She stood looking down at her husband.
“Oh Isaac,” she whispered, “you’re not going to leave me now. You wouldn’t do that to me, I know you wouldn’t. We still have that trip to Israel we planned, remember? Aaron has been promoted to the manager of the shoe department, and I know you’re proud of him just like I am. Oh, I know it didn’t work out the way you wanted, but still, he’s our son, and Claudia has calmed him down a lot, I’m sure you see it that way too. And imagine! if they give us a grandchild? I know you wouldn’t want to miss that. I know the phone calls from Ida were nothing, and that you were only trying to comfort her after Ralph died. I made it into something I shouldn’t have, but it’s only because I love you as much as I do. You can understand that? Right? “
She stopped whispering, and listened to his breathing like a dirge. She heard the gasp. Several minutes later, Aaron was in the doorway.
“He’s dead.”
There was a flicker in Aaron’s eyes before he turned and walked down the hallway.


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