Adam’s slender fingers stretched outwards to tangle themselves in my auburn curls. His lips were curved into a tired half-smile. His head, propped up by a countless number of pillows, was not too far from my own. I needed only to incline my body forward a few inches to be within kissing distance.
If I ignored the tubes darting in and out of his hospital robes, and the daunting technical machinery that crowded around his bed, I could almost trick my sleep-deprived mind into believing it was just another football accident. Like the time when he saved that goal, but had landed awkwardly and broken his arm. Almost…
It was his eyes that shattered all of my niave fantasies. As the waning sunlight shifted from the window, they changed from a dim blue to a haunted grey. The dark circles underneath had been carved into his skin for so long that they seemed more like thick black rounded scars.
I clutched at the white sheets, hoping that if I tensed up I wouldn’t start crying again. Yet a fat tear escaped the corner of my eye and rolled down my cheek.
“Don’t… Cry,” Adam told me, his voice no more than a hoarse whisper. “Stay strong… For me.”
I nodded my head and bit down hard on my bottom lip. I hated seeing him like this. So weak. So close to the cusp of death. The doctors kept telling me that his position was stable. That some days his health even showed signs of improvement despite his outwards appearance. For cases like his, they said, all we could do is support him and hope for the best.
So every night, despite being an atheist for all of my life, I kneel at my bedside and pray. I pray in the hope that if there is such a higher being, they will hear my desperation and help Adam get better. Or at least carry his soul to heaven. Because it scares me to think that someone as sweet a person as Adam would just cease to exist after death. More than it does to imagine living the rest of my life without him.
A hand fell to rest softly on my shoulder. I stirred, but my eyes never moved off of Adam who had now shut his eyes to rest.
“Eva, visiting time is almost over.” The hand slid away, but its heat lingered there for a moment. The voice belonged to a boy. A friend. But his name kept escaping my memory. I mumbled something at him in response. He chuckled dryly; too forced to be humorous and too out of place in this hospital room.
“I’ll try and hold off the staff for a little longer.” He gently squeezed my shoulder before exiting the room, leaving me to watch Adam’s thin chest rise and fall. Monotonous, but reassuring movement.