Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #16


Cali's gallery employee, Stephen, had confiscated priceless paintings, and kept whereabouts of her estranged father secret. Stephen's had a fatal accident and has asked for her.

Cali moved inside Stephen's ICU room, his body covered by a single sheet. Despite the oxygen tube, labored breathing racked his body.

"Stephen, it's Cali. Can you hear me?"

One palm lay open, and a finger crooked for her to come closer.

His glazed eyes stared up at nothing. "Will you?"

She leaned down. "Will I what, Stephen?"

"Please...not much time. I need your forgiveness."

What could be harder? He was dying. She wanted to bolt from the room. In these last moments, no matter what he'd done, she was all he had.

"You still here?" Fear shook his raspy voice. "Can't see you."

Cali's throat tightened.

"Did you turn out the lights? Where are you?"

Even the one who'd wronged her didn't deserve a solitary death.

"I'm here for you, Stephen."

A weakened cough passed his dry lips. "Please."

Hope. He had hope she'd offer a final kindness. All contempt for Stephen disappeared. Without hesitation, she laid a hand over his, its chill pressed inside her soul.

"Yes," she whispered. "I forgive you."

"," he managed. "I have no right. Please, pray...
with me?"

"'The Lord is my Shepard; I shall not want'..."

When his hand relaxed, she thought he'd gone to sleep until an unnatural stillness fell upon him. Stephen had taken his last breath while she prayed.

His last breath.


  1. It's a great situation - havig to forgive someone who had wronged you so badly.
    Fist scentence doesn't make sense - "his body covered by a single sheet" seems to refer back to Cali. Make it 2 scenetences.
    Don't like the phrase "I need your forgiveness" It seems very formal. I think he's just say "Forgive me?" I'd also like more detail between "She wanted to bolt from the room" and "In these last moments..." I think there is a profound change of heart here, and it needs more description.
    Otherwise -good. The tone matches the scene, which is soft and sad.

  2. I liked this a lot. I liked the sentence "I need your forgiveness," because it adds a certain definite tone to his death. Depends on what the character was like, but I thought it was great. :)

  3. Maybe a thin sheet?

    Good writing. This is a tender scene. I like the forgiveness aspect - it stirs deep in a reader. It reveals a lot about MC - either she's truly forgiving or compassionate enough to fake it for a dying man. I want to know which!

    My one nit is the "did you turn the lights off?" line. Seems a bit cliche for such a well-written scene.

    I want to know more about these characters.

  4. I really do like the idea of offering undeserved forgiveness at the last minute, and that she prayed for him.

    One nitpick is that after "she laid a hand over his" you need a period, dash, or semicolon.

    I do love the scene.

  5. Thank all of you for your comments. :)

    There should be more description of how Cali felt wanting to bolt from the room. I have it in the original scene, but deleted to submit here. Not a good thing to omit, I agree. :)

    Stephen is dying and knows it, so I wanted Cali to fulfill his last request. What he doesn't know is, when death closes in, the sight goes before sound, which is the last to go, hence the question on the lights. I will rework the line though. Readers may not understand, and it looks like it's just been thrown in.

    I like the more visual "thin" sheet suggestion instead of single. Changing it! :)Also adding a dash after "she laid a hand over his"

    Much appreciation for your time! I'm happy to receive such wonderful comments.

  6. Like it overall. Has a nice, borderline melodramatic tone to it, which seems to fit the genre. The "did you turn out the lights" line veered a little too far into slapstick for me. Also, correct spelling is "shepherd." Not sure why you repeated the last line--didn't add any extra meaning for me in the context of this scene, but it might make more sense if I could read more before and after.

  7. Bill thanks for your comments. Not a good thing to misspell a bible quote! Thanks for catching.

    As for "His last breath" repeat, I added it for emphasis to show her distressed state of mind. That she'd watched a friend and employee, she'd at long last forgiven for wronging her, die.

    There's a scene in the ICU room directly after the last sentence, but couldn't fit it in. :)

    I've been present at several deaths, and no matter how many times I've experienced it, there's a moment of shock and disbelief during the passing and immediately afterward. And other mixed emotions. I appreciate your time to crit Perfect Match.