Several years ago during my monthly poetry group meeting, we read a poem about what a person would do if he only had the rest of the day to live and wrote our own poems about what we would do in such a situation. After I wrote mine, I decided it would work better as a short story so here it is. You can also read it on my Web site.
“When you go to sleep tonight, you’ll die,” the doctor says.
“But I feel fine,” you say.
“Your test results indicate a rare form of cancer that acts like a time bomb. When you go to bed and close your eyes, the bomb will explode.”
“Oh my God! Isn’t there anything you can do?”
“I’m afraid not. I suggest you get your affairs in order. I know this doesn’t give you much time. I’m sorry.”
You walk out of the office in a daze. You blink in the bright sunlight and stumble towards your car, shaking your head in disbelief. When you manage to drive home, he’s in the living room, stretched out in his recliner, reading a newspaper. “Surprise!” he says, as he leaps to his feet and flings the newspaper aside.
“What are you doing home so early?” you ask.
“I was ahead of schedule for once so I decided to take the rest of the afternoon off.”
You fling yourself into his outstretched arms and you’re locked in a long, ardent embrace. When you come up for air, neither of you says a word. Arm in arm, you make a beeline for the bedroom.
After a couple of hours of the most passionate love making you’ve experienced in years, you snuggle against him and feel the reassuring closeness of his body. You doze, but remembering the doctor’s words, you jerk yourself awake. “What’s wrong, honey?” he asks.
“Oh, nothing,” you say. “I was just thinking how much fun it would be to go out to Dino’s tonight. Their shrimp fettuccini is just to die for.”
“Actually, I was hoping you would cook something here. I love your meat loaf and for once, I won’t be late for dinner.”
You sigh. The last thing you want to do on your last night on earth is cook meat loaf.
“But if you really want to go out, I guess that would be okay.”
Although the restaurant is crowded, you manage to get a cozy table for two in a corner. You order fettuccini, and he orders lasagna. You order salad, and he orders clam chowder and a bottle of red wine for the two of you. You don’t say much, as you savor your favorite meal for the last time. He keeps up a running commentary on work and other topics.
For dessert, you both decide on spumoni ice cream. As you enjoy this and a cup of strong coffee, you look around the room at couples, threesomes, foursomes, and larger groups of people, all laughing, chatting, and eating. Will Heaven be like this? Is there even a Heaven?
“How about renting a movie?” he asks, as you leave the restaurant.
“That’s a great idea. How about ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo?’I’ve always loved that show.”
“Actually, I was thinking of ‘Top Gun.”
You sigh. The last thing you want to do on your last night on Earth is watch a war movie.
“But if you really want to watch ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo,’ I guess that would be okay.”
At home, you snuggle on the couch. While Mia Farrell is becoming infatuated with Woody Allen, the two of you are becoming re-infatuated with each other. Afterward,, you head back to the bedroom for another round of passionate love making.
When that’s over, you snuggle against him. “Hold me,” you say, gripped by a sudden fear of the unknown. He does, and you’re at peace.
You open your eyes and see bright sunlight. You sit up and look around. To the right and behind you are the windows. Your night stands, chests of drawers, and closet are where they’ve always been. Your clothes are scattered on the floor where you dropped them the night before. He is lying next to you, still asleep. You are filled with a sense of relief.
He wakes up and looks at his watch. “Honey, why are you getting up so early on a Saturday morning?” he asks.
“Who says I’m getting up?” you say, as you cuddle next to him and nibble his ear. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome