Waiting – Episode 5 of Claire’s Story

Episode 5 of a flash fiction series. Find previous episodes at Claire’s Story – Flash Fiction Series.

Bart stared at his watch and pursed his lips. Over an hour late. He drew a deep breath and slowly released it. He needed to think about something else, anything other than his bride in surgery. Adelle sat beside him, staring across the waiting room, a book face down in her lap. “Is your book any good?”

She blinked. “Uh, what?”

Bart made a conscious effort to stop his leg from bouncing and nodded at the book. “Is it any good?”

Adelle sighed. “Not today. I can’t stop thinking about my daughter.” She smiled weakly and added. “Your wife. I’m still getting used to that.”

He nodded and a tight smile stretched his lips. “Me too.”

The television in the corner played an inane game show. The hands on the wall clock crept along a minute slower than Bart’s watch. For the umpteenth time, he checked the monitor on the other wall listing names. His last name displayed next to the words “in surgery.” Did Claire’s extra time in surgery mean something had gone wrong?

Bart’s nostrils flared. Cancer had invaded his love. How could he fight it? He longed to attack it, to punch it like a person, to vent his fury over the suffering inflicted on Claire. He gritted his teeth thinking about her weeks of chemotherapy. Though sick and weak, something sustained her. Bart closed his eyes picturing her determined, emaciated face. She had started praying. Did that give her the power to fight?

Adelle sighed and lifted the book from her lap. “I guess I’ll try this again.”

Bart stood. “I’m going for a walk.” He nodded toward the receptionist by the waiting room door. “She can text me, if needed.” Adelle smiled and nodded.

Bart walked down the hallway, stepping aside for a nurse pushing a man in a wheel chair. He passed other hospital personnel about their duties, turned the corner and lengthened his steps toward the exit. Passed through the automatic doors, he turned down the vacant sidewalk leading away from the entrance. After several steps he stopped and drew in a deep breath.

As he surveyed the parking lot, he remembered his confidence at the wedding. Claire’s diagnosis was serious. But people beat cancer all the time. She would too. His hope of a long, happy life together had burned bright, chasing away his shadows of doubt. But watching her health decline week after week eroded his confidence. He shivered, searching his heart for a flicker of hope. Would he lose her? What if it happened today?

He thrust his hands into his pockets, his elbows tight against his side. The breeze brushed his face and rustled the leaves in the nearby tree. His mind screamed for a way to fight. What about Shawn. His best man, Shawn, prayed. Should he text Shawn to pray? Oh, to have the faith and confidence he had. Bart pulled his phone from his pocket, but stopped. A thought tugged at his mind. You should pray.

Bart’s throat burned. “Oh, God.” His voice cracked and tears spilled from his eyes. “Help Claire.”

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