A Love Story

By on Feb 8, 2015 in Cuttings, Fiction

Ambulance in background with people holding hands in foreground

Alex felt so doped up with painkillers and anxiety-reducing drugs that when they wheeled him into the operating room, he couldn’t worry, had he wanted to. The one thing he recalled was asking if his wife had been notified. A familiar voice whispered, “I’m here, honey. I’m here,” but too much was going on to make sense of anything.

He saw bright lights and people in blue scrubs. Someone told him to count backwards from ten. He reached nine when a new calmness allowed him to block out the image of a car racing through a red light straight toward him.

It seemed only minutes had passed, and he was awake in a hospital bed, wrapped in a morphine quilt. He tried recalling what he had heard a doctor tell him — broken bones, a concussion, a heart attack. With the cloud lifting, one thought consumed him: he had to assure Jane he survived.

In an area sectioned off by white curtains and populated by buzzing and beeping machines, a smiling nurse put a telephone to his face: “Your wife made me promise to let you speak to her as soon as you came to.”

He heard Jane’s voice and knew, although she hadn’t been in the car, she had suffered almost as much as he.

“Alex, Alex, are you all right? I love you, honey.”

He wanted to joke, his way of dealing with emotion. He wanted to tell her not to cash in his life insurance just yet. But he could only force a gurgling sound he hoped sounded like, “27,” her lucky number.

He knew it would make her smile.

The nurse took the phone and said something about him still under morphine, everything went fine, she’d be able to see him soon.

Now Jane, the woman he had loved for what seemed his whole life, was sitting by his bed, holding his hand. He was tethered to a machine blinking numbers like an out-of-control slot machine. His throat burned, and his mouth felt desert dry; he could barely gather the strength to squeeze her hand. Still, seeing Jane trying her best to smile allowed him to relax.

“Twenty-seven,” she said.


Wayne Scheer has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net. He's published numerous stories, poems and essays in print and online, including Revealing Moments, a collection of flash stories. His short story, “Zen and the Art of House Painting” has been made into a short film. Wayne lives in Atlanta with his wife and can be contacted at via email.