I linger beside Martha’s bed and listen to her shallow breathing as the clock ticks onward. Hour after hour passes and the air in the room becomes stale and pungent, rife with the anticipation of death. With each passing moment my heart bleeds anguish and my soul reels from the eminent loss.
“Where are you Lord? Why does she linger? Are there so many people passing through the pearly gates that she must wait in line? Or is her fate not yet sealed between a judgement of heaven or hell? Are you giving her time?”
The sound of footsteps breaks the silence as a stranger enters the room and moves towards the bed, disturbing my thoughts. A peaceful presence accompanies him; another new nurse, I decide. Laying his palm across her forehead, he takes Martha’s frail hand in his and begins to gently massage it. His soft voice whispers secrets to her dying frame, drawing her focus towards him. I arise from my chair and settle beside her on the bed.
“Will you yet rebel against your Lord and Saviour, Martha?” I hear him inquire. “Will your last breathe bring the hope of heaven or the pain of hell? You know the choice you must make. I am only here to remind you one last time. The decision has always been yours.”
I watch as Martha’s eyes close, forcing tears down her cheeks. Her breathing ceases and her body relaxes in death. Laying her hand gently on the bed, the stranger turns to leave. As if disturbed by his movement, a soft scent fills the air.
“Do you smell the perfume?” Without taking my eyes off of Martha, I reach out and grab his arm, needing him to answer.
“It is the scent of a new Christian,” he rejoices, as the arm held tightly in my hand simply disappears.
This is written in response to a prompt from Magpie Tales.
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