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Submitted on
September 8, 2012
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            “Here to see Alley again?” the old woman perched behind the reception desk asks me. I nod, and watch as she types something on her keyboard. “Someone will be here to take you to her room in a moment,” she tells me.” My heart erupts in my chest at the memory of our past meetings. ‘Do I really want to see her like this?’ I can’t help but wonder.  The truthful answer is no, I don’t, even if I can’t keep myself away.
            “Jason?” I look up to see one of the clinic nurses gesturing towards me. “Jason, she’s ready to see you now.”
            As we walk down the hall I hear the panicked scream of another patient. I can’t help but wonder if this one has lost herself to the same degree as my Alley, or if she’s only half way there. I debate what I would prefer if I could choose. Would I rather have the dead look I see in my best friend’s eyes every day, or would I prefer to hear her scream as the unnamed horrors etch themselves in her mind?
            As we continue to walk, as usual I wish I was anywhere but here. I miss the days when visiting my childhood sweet heart meant our laughter and joy. The longer we walk I see men and women I recognize from my first visit.
            “Hey honey! Come to see your little wife again?” asks an elderly patient, who I know to be Chandra. “Why don’t you come see me, sweetheart?” I don’t bother to remind Chandra that we’re not married, and I know to ignore her final comment. Ever since that first visit, I’ve learned to get used to comments coming from people who you almost think would know better. Then you remember where they are.
            I stay close to the nurse even though I know where I’m going. I don’t want to feel lost in this place, or lost myself. We walk until we enter the ward for people who need constant care, like Alley. I still remember Natalia, her former roommate, saying that patients who entered this ward would never recover. Then I didn’t want to believe. Now I know how true it is.
            My body is caught between panic and hope when I see the name ‘Alexandra Shaw’ on the outside of a room. The nurse unlocks the door, allowing me continue unaccompanied. My chest tights as I recall a time when every meeting required a chaperone.
            The room we enter is completely white excluding the long light blue visitors bench against the wall, and the glass across one wall. I realize that doctors must be monitoring us and a chill runs down my spine.
            Alley is dressed in a patient’s gown, and her once warm brown eyes are vacant. She only slightly lifts her head to acknowledge me. For a moment I see something jump in her as she recognizes me. There is a faint flicker of her former self there, kindling a glimmer of hope that maybe she’s not all gone. As the expression reaches her eyes, however, it is extinguished, and I fall back into the pit of despair.
            Her body is the color of new fallen snow, and it’s apparent that she hasn’t seen the light of day in months. Once, I tried convincing her caretakers that she could do with some time outside. For a moment it worked, and then Alley just stopped. She didn’t want to be outside. She didn’t even want to try normal activities. All I must do is glance at the machinery in her room to remember it. Perhaps that was when she’d lost her will to live. Now they force her nutrition. At first she fought their attempts, and I was there to comfort her. As time passed even that small resistance died out.
            “Hey there Alley,” I call out to her. She looks up again and barely gives me a sad smile. “How are you?" I ask. I don’t know why I bother every day. I know her condition, I know she won’t speak. Nothing changes, but still I reach to feel the fire she once had. Still I fall into the icy numb when I realize again that I can’t reach her.
            I sit with her and ask her yes or no questions about how she feels. She doesn’t respond, and I must work to hold back tears when the memory of what I lost clenches my heart. She is essentially a living corpse with her white robe and her ribs flashing out under her skin. I don’t know why I’m surprised when she seems so tired. Her doctor once told me that she could only sleep when I came to visit. What does she do all day if she can’t sleep?
            I hold her in my arms and whisper pleasant things to her until her eyes close. I give her hand a slight stroke and lay her down in my lap as if I were her parent. I mimic the way her mother would cradle her and care for her when she first became ill. Now her mother can’t even see her daughter regularly, and I know tonight I will call to update her, even if there is nothing to say.
            When she has been asleep for ten minutes a nurse comes to get me. I give her hair one final stroke, and take note of how she sleeps. She is only the Alley I remember in sleep. “Goodbye Alley. I already miss you.”
            I follow the nurse back to the waiting room, trying to remember why I still hold on her when I know she’s already gone. She’s already dead to the world. Something in me reminds me that I never will be able to leave her. I will cling unto her until her body catches up, and she falls asleep for the last time. As I walk out of that place, I let the tears fall down my cheeks as I mourn my best friend, my breathing corpse.

This little short story was inspired by Anthem of the Angels by Breakin Benjamin.

Some questions for critique:
:bulletblue: The hope is that readers will want to know what happened to get Alley in her situation. Was I successful? If not, how could I inspire that want?
:bulletblue: Is there any way I could improve as a whole and specific to this piece? 

"There is nothing left of you. I can see it in your eyes. Sing the anthem of the angels and say the last goodbye. I keep holding on to you, but I can't bring you back to life. Sing the anthem of the angels and say the last goodbye."

This piece of prose can now be found on my blog here: ramblingsofayoungwriter.wordpr…
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:iconanovoca:
Your writing style and story telling for this style of fiction (emotional flash fiction) was perfectly done. Flash fiction can often by limited because it doesn't provide a reader much time to get to know a character or to grow to like a character before tragedy strikes. You are able to get over this hurdle through a powerful written "performance" in the first person narrative. At no point in this prose to you try to build false sympathy for what the character is going through by creating a sob story about what happened to put them in this predicament. Rather, you let the emotions of the narrator do all the driving. The setting I felt was painted very well and your description of the scenes leading up to him entering Alley's room neither felt rushed nor too detailed or drawn out. All of these factors culminate into what is probably this piece's biggest strength in that it causes us (the readers) to forget this is a work of fiction.

I would like to leave you with some constructive words to help you improve upon this piece further but in my humble opinion the best thing you could do to this piece is to leave it just as it is :)

Well done!
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:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2014  Student Writer
I feel like the imagery could be made less "telly" with some editing, and that spacing out the paragraphs would make it easier to read. This was a great read though. :)
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:iconmakemebutterfly:
MakeMeButterfly Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You writing style is easy to read, it's really lovely :D I've listened to this song and it think it's a wonderful peice of writing :D
xo
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:iconselahdenoctiluca:
SelahDeNoctiluca Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks so much! :D I'm glad you liked it!
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:iconactsofart:
ActsofArt Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
absolutely heart-wrenching!! omigosh it's so sad! amazing work!!
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:iconselahdenoctiluca:
SelahDeNoctiluca Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks so much!
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:iconevamy94:
evamy94 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
Wow, this is amazing and extremely powerful. Especially the last few lines. This struck a chord in me. I definitely want to see more work from you in the future.
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:iconselahdenoctiluca:
SelahDeNoctiluca Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks!
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:iconevamy94:
evamy94 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
No problem :)
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:iconpuzzledpixel:
puzzledpixel Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
i almost stopped reading cuz this is so heartbreaking. you're a very eloquent writer. good job!
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:iconselahdenoctiluca:
SelahDeNoctiluca Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks!
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