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A Distant Memory

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Lori sat curled up in the chair beside Rick’s hospital bed. The steady beep-beep-beep of the heart monitor was the only sound in the room since the doctor had finally taken Rick off the ventilator. Progress, she had been told, since it meant his body was recovering. She stared at his profile, sniffling and drying the tears that still escaped and slid down her cheeks from time to time. She had run out of things to talk to her silent husband about. No matter how happy and positive she tried to be, her mind kept wandering back to that morning and the fight they’d had.

She would give anything to go back to that morning and change things, change how she had reacted to Rick that morning. She blamed herself for Rick getting shot. No matter how many times Shane tried to reassure her that it wasn’t, deep down she kept thinking that if she had just been nicer, if she had held him a minute longer, hugged him, or kissed him, that Rick wouldn’t have gotten shot, that he would be at home right now with her and Carl. With all the crazy news reports, the stories Shane kept telling her, the rumors floating through the hospital, she just needed her husband by her side, at home. She was scared, for Carl, for Rick, for Shane, and for herself.

Uncurling herself in the chair, Lori pulled it closer to the hospital bed. She reached up and took Rick’s hand in hers, running the tip of her finger over his. She traced the fine lines of each of his fingers, some small part of her hoping that, somehow, this small touch would elicit a response, a twitch… anything. Instead, she was only greeted by a tiny blip on the heart monitor, the steady beep-beep-beep only momentarily disrupted. She didn’t think anything of it, she was so focused on his hand and his fingers. Saddened, nearly broken-hearted, she laid her head down on Rick’s chest, squeezing her eyes closed as fresh tears stung the backs of her eyes and began to spill down her cheeks. Silent sobs wracked her body, her mind too disheveled to even pray at this point. She just wanted her husband back!

Lori never heard Shane come into the hospital room, never heard him trying to calm her, to soothe her. She barely registered the hands and arms that helped her up and out of the room. She was in a complete fog as she was led out of the hospital and to a car, the entire drive back home nothing more than a blur. She kept hearing the beeps of the heart monitor, the sounds of Rick breathing, and the occasional page overhead from and for someone in the hospital.

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Now, as she lay in the darkness with nothing but a tent over her head and the sounds of nature all around, she missed the sounds of the heart monitor. She missed the manly, clean smell of Rick. She was thankful she was alive, thankful Carl was still with her, and that Shane had managed to get them away from the city before all hell broke loose. Still, in these deep, dark moments of the night, the sounds of Rick’s heart monitor haunted her. The faint echo of a blip that interrupted the steady rhythm left an empty, hollow feeling in her chest.