This is the last excerpt from The Wendy House (aka Book #2) that I’ll be posting here for a long time. Waiting For Spring‘s re-release is only two months away, and I’ll be devoting a considerable amount of time (and blog space) to that for quite awhile. In the meantime, I’ll be working like a mad woman on Wendy’s revisions…
The hospital room smelled like decay, as though she was already rotting. It was dark, except for the dim, yellowy light coming from the lamp in the corner. The nurse had pulled the shade over the windows so the harsh summer sun wouldn’t get in Wendy’s eyes. Rick thought she might have liked to feel the warmth of it on her skin, but said nothing. It didn’t matter, really. She was gone already.
Asleep. She’s just asleep.
But he knew better. Her heart was beating, but she was gone, had slipped away hours ago. He sat there beside her bed anyway, could have sat there forever. It was the room, the world, where she was still alive. He wanted to hold her hand, to touch her face, but he couldn’t. Brian was sitting across from him, on the other side of the bed. He was clutching a wad of white blanket, barely an inch from Wendy’s arm. He wouldn’t look at Rick. Wouldn’t look at anything except the monitor, at the flashing red heart and blinking lights that told him his mother was still alive. Rick wished the boy would speak, wished he could think of something to say to his son, but what was there to say? Brian wasn’t quite twelve, yet when he had told the nurses, several hours earlier, that he would not leave the room, he had spoken with such quiet authority that they had let him be. But the time would come—it wouldn’t be long now—when the machines would fall silent. And this room would become just another in which she was gone.
The blip-blip-blip of the monitor skipped a beat. Brian jumped in his seat, then looked, finally, at his father. His eyes were dark, just like hers had been—
Still are. She’s just asleep.
—and unblinking. The two of them stared silently at one another for a timeless moment, then back at the monitor as it skipped again.
This was it.
Rick forced himself to look at her face. It was sallow and shrunken, her lips thin and tight. He had kissed those lips when they were dusty from a dry summer road, had fallen in love with her that day, with something in her eyes that was dark and wild. A love so real it was like a creature come to life inside of him. And that face had glowed with moonlight in the backseat of his car. She had smiled down at him that night and he had lost himself in that smile, overwhelmed with the sudden, certain knowledge that his life had never been as good as it was at that moment, that it never would be again. She had loved him then. Her heart had been his.
Now it was all that was left of her, and it was slowing down…slowing down. She was leaving him. Again.
Your hair glowed that night, too, Wendy. It fell on my bare shoulders. You murmured something, I still don’t know what. I pulled you closer because I could already feel you slipping away and I couldn’t bear for you to go. Did I tell you that, Wendy? Did I ever say it?
He hadn’t told her, had never said it. And now the steady whine of the monitor was telling him that it was too late. It was telling him that she was gone.