A Dying Wish


A Dying Wish

Inspired by Ray Bradbury’s, “All Summer in a Day”

Annabel was more tired than she had ever thought possible, and yet she had done nothing to cause her to feel this way. She had woken up, eaten breakfast, and had lain in bed the entire day. There were no more trips to the dining room. It took too much effort for the overworked staff to get her in and out of bed. It was much easier to bring her a tray. No more trips to the bathroom either. She had been reduced to using a bedpan. She was clinging to life by threads that she wished could be snipped away, but she knew that there was some reason she continued to live.

The days seemed to drag on, especially with the incessant rain. Annabel hated the rain. Back in the last century, decades ago, the sun would shine for days on end. Not anymore, not since that damn climate change. No one from back then was still alive to witness it, all the disbelievers. Now it was nothing but rain and clouds, pure, gray depression outside. So many had died around her– family, friends, yet she had lived on, well past anyone else in the Rest Assured Living facility, past anyone in the country.
Twenty years ago she was named oldest living American, she reminisced. Living? Ha! she thought. This isn’t living; it’s surviving. Oh, why couldn’t she just be done with it like all those who had passed on before her? Annabel turned her gaze from the ceiling to the window wondering why she even bothered opening her eyes. It just wasn’t worth the effort. Every day she looked at that same damn tree. Same tree. Wait, something seemed different. She squinted just beyond the tree to a small opening in the clouds. It looked as if…Was that a ray of sunlight? No, it couldn’t be. Was it really true?

She craned her neck to the same spot where she had thought she had seen the light. Unmistakably, there it was, widening.

“For the first time in nearly 50 years, the United North Americas are seeing sunlight due to a…” a news reporter shouted excitedly on the telescreen. She snapped her head to focus on the telescreen trying to comprehend what he was saying.

What? Sunlight? Today? I need to get outside! Oh, I need to feel its warmth one more time, she thought. Then a slight wave of realization mixed with panic rolled over her. I can’t get out of bed! I haven’t been able to get out of bed myself in months! She pushed the call button for help. No response. Oh, those damn orderlies. Why don’t they just do their jobs? She pushed more times in rapid succession and yelled,

“Help! I need someone, please, help!”

The sun was now shining almost blindingly, just as she had remembered it. As she looked out, she saw most, if not all of the Rest Assured staff running outside to experience it.

“The unexpected sunshine is predicted to last only a brief five minutes. If we’re lucky maybe ten,” the reporter bubbled from his rooftop perch.

Annabel yelled at the window, propping herself up on her elbows, “Jorge, Agatha, Gino! Somebody, please come get me! Help me! Please!” The tightly sealed, double-paned window was not meant to open. She leaned her way closer to the window and stretched her hand in an attempt to knock at it, pound to get someone’s attention. She could barely touch the glass and now, nearly falling out of bed, she thrust her hand at the window with all her strength and knocked rapidly. Jorge was only a few feet from her and turned.

“Jorge! Come get me! Please!” she pleaded. A look of recognition crossed his face as he understood what she was asking. He looked back at the sunlight, knowing that the time was short and walked away.

“No!” she yelled as she reached for the window again, losing her balance and falling awkwardly into the narrow space between the bed and the wall. “Oh,” she sobbed, “I’m missing it!”
I am a fool, an old fool, she thought. At least I could see the sunlight through the window before. God, please just let me die!”

The door crashed open and Jorge came running in. “Oh, you were right, Miss Annabel! All those stories you told us about the sunshine were all true.” He pushed the bed aside so he could bend down and scoop her tiny frame into his arms. “I’m betting we only have a couple of minutes left.”

Jorge burst through the outer door and Annabel laughed when she felt the sunlight blaze against her cheek. It only lasted a minute, maybe two, but it filled her spirit like nothing had in recent memory. Tears of joy dripped down her cheeks.

As soon as they had parted, the clouds gathered rapidly, the light faded, and the raindrops began to splatter on her skin. Still holding her, Jorge asked, “Ok, Annabel, are you ready to go back in?”

“Not yet, Jorge. I want to feel the rain. I want to feel alive again.” Jorge stood with Annabel in his arms, her body drenched but not her spirit. Her spirit soared higher than ever before.

Laurie Nielsen has been a Language Arts educator and speech director for 32 years, but only in the last decade a Creative Writing teacher and faculty adviser for the Lewis Central High School literary magazine, “The Mighty Pen.” Her true passion for creativity is coaching Large Group and Individual Speech and developing Reader’s Theater scripts. This is the first piece she has ever submitted for publication and was done as a model for her students.