Cough and Brume

My son is late. A few nurses have passed by my room since he called this morning, and a little while ago a shady white apron holding a folder and a pen stood still as I opened my eyes: another one of those modern healers, levitating at the edge of my sheet, checking off boxes on a piece of paper, assessing charts and tonsils before sending me back home.

The man in the next bed is fond of football games and bells. He is dying and he has to remind everyone of it until the end—until his palms give up, his eyeballs roll into his head and disappear, and his church calls for prayers. A million and one cigarettes are hosted in his chest, and his coughs release smog and eject curses. If it weren’t for the divide between our beds, his spit and a brume of toxic fumes would have reached over and killed me by now.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 4. Purchase the book to read the full piece.