Peace Lilies

He practically ran through the sterile hallway looking left, then right, then left once again. The large, bright, fluorescent lights illuminated the white walls and light gray tiles and hid the beige doors from his view. Every few steps he paused, desperately searching for the number five. There was a nine, an eight, and a seven. He turned his head to the left, the number was six there staring right back at him. Taking five steps forward, he looked at the wide door on the right. He had found room number five. He had arrived. 

His hand reached out and touched the door’s cold, silver handle. He slowly turned the handle and the door creaked open. Then, he stopped. He felt paralyzed with fear. He remembered the last time he had turned a knob just like this one. That moment often replayed in his mind. The door creaked open and his head peaked in. His eyes peered around the room. He couldn’t even see anything at first. There was just a feeling the room gave off. The room felt cold and dark.

 His eyes finally focused on her. She lay on the bed, sleeping as peacefully as a baby. This was probably the first time in a week that she finally got a moment of rest. She looked like a fragile shell of her former self. Her eyes had dark eye bags and she had a sickly pallor on her face. He almost didn’t recognize his Lily. He took a half-step inside and quietly shut the door. His eyes wandered around the room and landed on a chestnut table in the corner by the window. On the table was one of those plants that has only a single medium-sized, white petal with a peculiar spikey, yellow rod in the center of it. At the time, he was unsure of the plant’s name, but it was one of the ones you would see in a church or in an office. He only noticed this otherwise quite boring plant because of the five dead leaves surrounding the plant. It looked so lifeless and sad, he felt almost sorry for the poor plant. He walked toward the massive curtain covering the window near the plant. His hand moved the curtain ever so slightly to give the poor plant some light. 

Suddenly, she began to stir from her slumber. He moved the curtain back into its previous position, but it was too late. “Austin?” she groaned. He swiftly made his way to her side and kissed her gently on the forehead. Lily looked up at him and there were already tears welling up in her eyes. Now sitting on the twin-sized bed with her, he put his arm around her shoulders and tenderly pet her frizzy hair. Austin did not have a clue of what the right thing to say was, so he stayed quiet for a moment. Then he decided to share the most comforting words he could muster. “Everything will be okay, Lily.”

As he went to pet her head once again, she recoiled from his touch. Her neck nearly snapped, as she turned toward him. “I know you did not just say that to me. I know you did not just tell me it’s going to be okay. I know those words did not just come out of your mouth.” she hissed. “It’s never going to be okay.”  Her voice seemed to be increasing in volume with every syllable that left her mouth. “It’s never not going to stop being not okay.”  Her face was almost a deep, scarlet red. The anger was boiling up inside her. She could feel she was ready to explode. She closed her eyes for two seconds, opened them, and met Austin’s eyes. There were tears streaming down his face, pouring out of him like a heavy rain in the Amazon. Her frail hands reached out and held his face. She wiped away his tears with her dainty fingers. “Lil” he whispered as he caught his breath. “You would have been an excellent mother.” Lily looked into his eyes as if she were searching for the answers to the universe’s unanswerable questions. She replied with, “And you would have been a wonderful father, my love.”

An hour passed and Lily once again had drifted off to sleep. Though all seemed hopeless and lost, while she was buried underneath the blanket, she felt warm. Her eyes open once again and she sits up. She brings her hand to her head, beads of sweat are dripping down her face. Lily’s eyes drift across the room hoping to spot a towel or napkin of some sort. Instead, her eyes land on something in the far corner. “What is that?” Lily asked herself. Instantly, her eyes and face lit up. “Could it be?” She wondered in her own mind. Her body aches, but she springs up and heads straight over to the corner. As she gets closer, her question is answered. It is her beautiful baby girl lying in the corner mindlessly giggling to herself. The joy radiated out of this child, she was essentially glowing. Grinning from ear to ear, Lily went to go pick up her daughter for the first time. As her hands touched the babe, the joy left her. In fact, everything left her. The child looked cold and dark. Lily began to sob, she turned her head away and glanced back again and the little girl was gone. 

Noises of people talking echoed in her ears. She closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she was back in her bed. A nurse and her husband were discussing something in hushed tones. Lily briefly attempted to make eye contact with Austin but gave up after a minute. She sat there not moving for a while. Despair filled her lungs, it clogged and choked her throat. She felt as if she was gasping for air, but everyone else saw her silently and effortlessly breathing in and out. 

The air was cold, the room was dark. Everything she wanted and thought she would have was gone. Her new life was gone. Her new identity was gone. Her baby was gone. As these words pounded their way through her skull, she realized something about the room. The room wasn’t that cold or that dark; however, the cruel, harsh world she lived in was freezing and as dark as death itself. A tiny tear left her right eye. Her husband caught a glimpse of the small, shiny droplet falling down her weary face. He stopped responding to the nurse, he moved his whole body to face his wife. Slowly, he walked over to her side and held her hand. She stared at the man beside her, his hand felt warm. He gave her a half-smile. The smile felt safe and inviting. He made her feel a little bit warmer and a tad brighter. They both sat there shedding private tears together.

The beautiful, fresh flowers sitting on the table in the corner. Photo provided by vogueflowers.com

However, that was three long years ago. This moment was different. This time when he opened the door, the room felt like basking in a cozy ray of sunshine. This time the plant in the corner, which he now knew the name of, was in exceptional condition. The ‘Peace Lily’ was blooming. His eyes darted to the right. His beautiful wife was holding their newborn son. Joy radiated out of both of them, they were essentially glowing. He couldn’t wait to join them.

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