writing

Beyond Our World – A Short Story

The sounds of beeping machinery, hurried footsteps and firm yet desperate voices filled the halls and echoed off of the linoleum floors. “Please help my wife, please I beg of you!” Elijah Martin cried out; his voice was breaking, tears cascading down from his eyes, getting caught in the many wrinkles of his old, weathered face before they finally slipped into his straggly beard. “Clear,” a doctor called before he pressed the cold, electrified defibrillator pads against Mrs. Martin’s lifeless chest. They repeated this process three times – “Time of death, eight forty-three p.m.”

Elijah collapsed by the side of the bed holding his wife’s hand. One of his hands travelled upwards and stroked her hollow cheek and then caressed the top of her bald head, feeling the pricks of what once was the most beautiful hair he had ever seen, felt, smelled. “I’m so sorry my sweet Ruth, I wish I could’ve done more…” Elijah said before he burst into heart-wrenching sobs: the sobs of a man with a broken heart.

A week had passed since Ruth’s funeral and Elijah wasn’t coping well with the death of his wife. He seemed distant, cold, as if he had died along with Ruth in that hospital room. Who could blame him? The two of them had had a love quite like one out of a movie – filled with hope, desire, lust, adventure.  

Elijah had first laid eyes on Ruth’s soft face when she entered the bookstore he had been working in when he was seventeen years old: immediately he knew that she was the one. He built up the courage to ask her on a date, after a week of following her around the bookstore too nervous to speak to her. She said yes. Their love bloomed from that very moment; Elijah bought her bouquets of roses (Ruth’s favourite flowers) every week, opened doors for her, he even carried her over puddles on rainy days just so that her shoes didn’t get wet and after only six months Elijah proposed to her. She was so excited! They rushed back to Ruth’s home so that Elijah could ask for her father’s blessing, but instead he got chased from the home. That same night, Elijah met up with Ruth by her bedroom window. “Ruth I know we’re young, but I love you with my whole heart and I want to be with you for the rest of my life. Screw what our parents say, screw what anyone says, I want to marry you. Let’s run away together so we can start the rest of our lives,” he said. She agreed and they went on to live a full, wonderful life.

Until Ruth became sick.

Elijah couldn’t understand it, couldn’t accept it: how could Ruth, the purest soul on Earth, be diagnosed with one of the harshest diseases known to man? How could God allow that to happen? They prayed to Him each night, they followed Him, but none of it seemed to be enough. Elijah became resentful towards the world, towards God and he took it out on the only person he could – Ruth. He shouted, swore and threw things around early one evening (a few months post-diagnosis) while Ruth sat quietly on the couch wondering where the man she had married had gone. He stormed out of the house, slamming the front door shut behind him.

He came back home drunk that same night only to find his wife lying on the carpet beside the couch she had been sitting on earlier. She wasn’t moving. He ran forward, nearly falling over, and crouched beside her. He was too drunk to lift her, too drunk to check for a pulse, too drunk to physically help her himself. Somehow he managed to dial 911 and slur what had happened over the phone to the 911 operator and soon his wife was lying in a hospital bed with doctors working tirelessly to bring her back to life.

After the day of her death Elijah turned to alcohol for comfort and soon he became a madman, or at least he began to ramble like one. “She came to me last night, I saw her! She haunts me now because I wasn’t there for her that night. If I had been there I could’ve helped her sooner, she could’ve still been alive today if it wasn’t for me. It was all my fault,” he said as tears ran down his cheeks before he took another sip from the Jack Daniels bottle that seems to never leave his side.

Seeing her ghost for the first time was difficult for him to process; seeing her ghost every night, around the same time he had found her unresponsive on the floor, was too much for him to handle. He blamed himself for her death, it drove him crazy and so he did the only thing a crazy, guilty man felt he could do…

He hanged himself.

To his surprise he woke up, but not on the floor at home beneath the ceiling fan – he was in a hospital chair. He looked to his left and was astounded to see his wife in the hospital bed – she was breathing! He scrambled out of the chair and to his feet and made his way over to her. He caressed her warm face. “This must be Heaven,” he whispered as he kissed her forehead. “We can be together again my sweet Ruth…”

Just then the sounds of beeping machinery, hurried footsteps and firm yet desperate voices filled the halls and echoed off of the linoleum floors. Ruth had stopped breathing. She was dying all over again. “No, no, no!” Elijah cried and he ran out of the room towards the hospital’s front doors. They slid open, he rushed through – straight back into Ruth’s room.  She was alive again, but then the sounds of beeping machinery, hurried footsteps and firm yet desperate voices filled the halls and echoed off of the linoleum floors.

“What? No. What’s happening?” He yelled. He made to run out of the room again, but his path was blocked by one of the nurses. An evil grin spread across her face, “You shouldn’t have killed yourself Elijah, it’s a sin. Welcome to eternal damnation.” He stared at her for a brief moment in shock and then made for the hospital’s front doors once again, but to his horror they opened only to reveal Ruth’s room once again.

The sounds of beeping machinery, hurried footsteps and firm yet desperate voices filled the halls and echoed off of the linoleum floors –

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