The machine beeps quietly and a green line flashes across the screen like a heart attack. I hold your hand and it doesn’t hold mine back, just lies there, powerless. I wonder if I hold your hand tight enough, could I break your fingers? I could blame the accident, but they’ve probably made a list of your injuries already.
Bleep. I drop my head every time a nurse comes in. I'm a vision of grief, and I don’t want to make eye contact and break the spell.
Bleep. I answer questions as they’re asked, showing no distinction between police questions and medical questions, but the questions and their motivations are different. There are questions to find out what can be done to fix things, and questions that are not moving forward, but spiralling backwards, all the way back to why.
Bleep. Questions about your drinking: how much and how often. I'm almost scared to reply, in case you rear up in the bed when I speak the truth you call lies. The trouble I’d be in for getting it wrong.
Bleep. Did he ever take prescription drugs that hadn’t been prescribed for him? Yes, officer, I say, my head hanging with the shame of it, he did sometimes; sometimes things I had been prescribed and sometimes… I trail off. I'm not saying that you bought drugs. See? I'm not saying it at all, and if they choose to think that’s what I mean, if they press further and I cry, too blurred with tears to answer, then let them think that.
Bleep. Why didn’t I leave the pub with you tonight? It’s a fair question. I didn’t always. Sometimes I would wait for a while, to let you settle down or fall asleep, then scuttle home and sleep on the sofa. Sometimes I would stay with a friend. Mostly I would leave when you told me we were leaving. But not tonight. You had been drinking more than usual, I tell them. I didn’t think you should drive. There was an argument.
Bleep. It will take a while for the toxicology report, the doctors say. I nod, knowing what it will say. A huge dose of diazepam. They’ll think you took it knowingly. They’re learning that it’s something you would do.
Bleep. No one asks about my bruises. They’re faded, and livid, and bright, in equal measure, depending on how long they are there. But they are not in visible places, and they didn’t happen tonight. Mostly not, anyway.
Bleep bleep bleep. A red light zig-zags across the screen. Alarms sound and people run into the room, firmly pulling me away and working on you, working so hard your chest is bruised and broken, flashing you with jolting charges that make you leap from the trolley. A synchronised ballet of saviour. But it is too late. It is too late, and I am free.
Opera-loving Mom to a Tween, also a recovering lawyer, Fiona McKay lives and writes beside the sea in Dublin, Ireland. Words now or soon in Blinkpot, 50wordstories, FlashFlood Journal, 5minutelit, Sledgehammer Lit, Funny Pearls, Tl;dr Anthology. She/Her. Tweets at @fionaemckayryan