Sarah and Ben, A Fantasy


Lying there on the bed next to Ben, Sarah is a shell of what was. Her breathing is shallow but rhythmic, broken occasionally by a long deep inhalation and exhalation. She’s dying in order to feed the cancer that has metastasized in her lungs. Funny, Sarah hasn’t smoked for twenty years or so.

Sarah and Ben are older versions of my wife and me. Sarah is one of those ladies you never think of as being overweight. She’s too full of living; she never sits except to chat. 

It’s too easy to get caught up in Sarah’s stories. Her words become life itself. On the far wall, I can see the photo of their five kids, then ten to about three. They’re lined up like the hypotenuse of an isosceles triangle

Ben and I share --- well... we’re both a bit randy. In class, as a professor, some said he was boring. Ben’s effervescence is bottled up in a personality that is quiet – centered. The mirth in his eyes is a dead giveaway.

We love them both maybe because we don’t want anything from them. They don’t want anything from us.

"Ben, please hug me."

She lies on her back. Ben rolls over on his side and embraces her. He hears Sarah’s heart and feels her last breath decrescendo. Ben rolls over on his stomach, and, with his hands near each side of his chest, raises his torso up like a coyote to the moon and wails one long uninhibited noise. There’s nothing left, not even pain as his heart stops.

There’s no tragedy here, no sadness... just an empty spot.