The day is sunny, the classroom full, and quietly boisterous. Each twelve year old is busily at work on a project, scratching out a letter to someone else from the future. There are many giggles, several of the kids sneaking a glance at other letters, but many of them are busily at work. He is busily at work. He recalls what he wrote, back then. "I am only twelve, but I know I love you. Do you love me too?" The letter continues, but those were the words to begin it, the words that he sat at the desk the longest to come up with. He is stashing the letter in his backpack, and later at his home, in a small box. He is growing up, periodically checking the letter as time flies by, and wondering how long it would be till he would part with it for its rightful owner. The letter is changing shape, from a ruled white sheet, slowly tanning, curling, wrinkling, fading. Still he is caring for it, hiding it, protecting it.
The nurse wheels the man into the room, tubes and bandages covering his body, lacerations open and bleeding, burns on his side and back, with braces keeping his neck and spine as straight as possible. She quickly leaves, as a doctor, his assistant and several accompanying nurses prep for surgery. The doctors voice soon rings out... "Scalpel," then again and again, for forceps, suction, retractors, irrigation, and again suction. The nurses work in a frenzy to provide him what he needs and keep the patient stable.
He is with his father, seeing everything they used to do together. He is looking over crowds of people on his fathers shoulders, racing with him on quads, playing lasertag with his and his father's friends, is laughing in bliss, his father grinning in merriment. He is fishing with his father, shooting with him at the range, exploring the bay in scuba gear, and backpacking through the mountains. His father is telling stories to him, his father is teaching him lessons, how to climb a rock face, how to fight, how to hide, how throw a ball. He remembers asking his father how to propose to a girl.
The operating room is now silent but for the oxygen machine and the noises of the staff running around and working hastily. Several of the patient's ribs are revealed, broken, as the doctor attempts to pull the splinters of bone gingerly from the tissue, lungs and heart where they had flown. The silence of the room accents the moans from somewhere else in the small hospital, where a woman is undergoing labor. She screams, once, long and loud, and the patients heart rate accelerates. The staff struggle to lower his heart rate, administering a drip and struggling to keep bleeding to a minimum. The cries of an infant wafting through the halls interrupt the flustered sounds of the staff.
He recalls most powerfully the jasmine. There is a night blooming jasmine tonight on the hill, and its sweet, intimate fragrance whirls around them in the gentle breeze that night as they lay on the hill and watch the stars over the skyline of the city. He can smell the jasmine. His heart starts to speed up as he sees her face when he starts to ask, feels her tremble when he shows her the ring. It is a simple thing, but her response is as if he'd offered her the moon. He melts, remembering her passionate embrace, the catch in her voice, the emphatic 'yes' repeated over and over. He knows that nothing could ever take this memory from him.
The patient's heart rate spikes, and he enters cardiac arrest. The doctor yells for a crash cart, sewing him back up as fast as possible mid surgery. The crash cart arrives and the doctor wipes the patients chest clean as the staff gel and charge the paddles. "Clear," the doctor calls, and they shock the patient. There is no response. They charge and shock him twice more, before they can raise a beat. The staff pause in relief, and the doctor gives orders to stabilize him and finish sewing him up. "He's too weak. Continuing now would kill him."
The drapes flow and balloon at the windows, the light purple, almost violet drapes. He recalls choosing them out when they moved in, Nicki and him. They are having so much fun choosing them! They are going from home improvement store to hardware store looking for the perfect windows, the perfect accessories, the perfect linens. They are fitting their perfect house, on the side of a hill with a large open lot nearby for the children, when the children come.
He recalls, the mornings that they woke up to the brilliant sunrises shining directly in their room, bathing their bed and their faces in radiant glory. He remembers sharing a comforter on the patio as they watch the sunset and the stars in the evening. This far from the city, the stars were so bright. He smiles again, almost smelling his sharp Raspberry tea, and her favorite, the milder Vanilla and Cinnamon tea. She reaches her hand out to him, and he clasps it in his own.
The patient is wheeled to ICU, and along the way, a woman with bandages of her own and an infant lying in her lap is brought alongside in her wheelchair. The baby is premature, now silent, but squirming about gently. The nurses aren't watching carefully, and the woman reaches out to the man's hand, lying limply on the side of the bed. She holds his hand for a split second, and the nurse stops her. "He's in critical condition. We can't afford the chance of getting him infected." She begs the nurse with her eyes, but the nurse refuses. "Not now. Maybe when they've got him stable enough they can move him out. Both he and the baby need the ICU now, and you'll have to stay with the child."
He sees her face, as she explains, as she tells him of their child. He is dancing for joy, holding her tight, feeling her stomach, and wondering about it's new treasure. He sees the ultrasounds, when her belly has begun to swell, and falls hopelessly in love with the little boy inside. He sees the two of them making over the house, once again, for children. He sees from the windows the children from the neighborhood playing in the lot nearby, and wonders what kind of a child his boy will be. He is apprehensive. Will he be like his father? Will he like the same sports? Will he be loving? Will he be a rebel?
He sees them both hanging up decorations in the child's room. He remembers looking back in his old files, wondering if he ever kept that letter. He finds it eventually... and he sees it now. "I am only twelve, but I know I love you. Do you love me too? I'm only twelve, but someday I'll be your dad, and I'll want to do everything with you. I'll want to share everything with you. I don't know what you look like, but I imagine you look handsome, like Dad says I look." He smiles, remembers showing it to her, and them both framing it in the new boy's room. He remembers walking into the new, yet empty room and wondering what it would be like with their new addition.
The crying of the newborn wakes the nearby mother, who has fallen asleep from exhaustion. She props herself up, painfully, and reaches over. Their son is squirming round, reaching for her. She lifts him, holds him close to her. He is warm, soft and smooth. He reminds her of her love. She rings for a nurse, who soon arrives, and asks how he is, if she can see him. The nurse helps her up and leads her to his room.
He sees her waking him in the night, her moaning, the contractions. He runs out, dazed, to fetch the car, and helps her to it. He is tired, but exhilarated at the same time. He can't wait to see his new son. They pull out.
He sees them on the country road, eucalyptus trees and deep ditches framing the two lanes keeping the water from rising despite the fog and rain. He's glancing back at her in the back seat, both anxious for her and excited for the little one. She moans in anguish, the pain of anticipation, and he speaks to her, softly, quickly, soothingly. She attempts to smile at him, and he knows despite the torment, she's as anxious, nervous, and excited as he is. He gets goosebumps, and he glances back at the windshield and accelerates, hears her moan once more as the car rocks over a bump, and he is suddenly back at her side, telling her it's going to be everything they've ever dreamed of. He sees her look at her stomach, at him, at the windshield. Her eyes widen in alarm, and then... He sees the turn, the pickup roaring round the trees, swinging idly through the divider. He wonders slowly if the driver is drunk, or asleep. He sees it slide slightly on the slick asphalt, and suddenly he realizes the peril. He tries to pull over, but there is no room, no time, no space. The pickup is suddenly in his windshield...
As they walk, several staff run past them with an AED and a crash cart. She sees something has happened, knows something is wrong. She runs, runs with her bandages, runs with her son. The nurse sprints after her. They reach the room, she watches from the door. The staff are charging the paddles, shocking him, trying time after time to raise him, to restart his heart. The nurse holds her, she pulls herself free. She runs to his side, through the medics surrounding the bed. They are shocking him once, and as if his body can sense her presence, the monitor jumps a beat. The following rhythm is unsteady, weak, fading. The staff start CPR, one of them injecting a syringe into his IV bag, and she holds her son with one hand as she takes his limp hand in hers once again.
He sees a bright light. It all gradually forms into a soft, intangible fog of reality. He temporarily gains control, and can hear the staff speaking, though he cannot speak or respond. He struggles to communicate, but only in vain. Their voices fall to whispers, and fade away. He calls for his love, his rose. He sees her then. She's giving birth, like he'd always imagined it. They made it to the hospital in time. He is holding her hand, she is grasping his tightly. She is panting, heaving, moaning, but smiling. The doctor is giving her directions, calmly talking her through it. He sees her groan and scream. He sees the doctor retrieve the infant... he holds his breath, stumbles towards the doctor slowly, tentatively, as if in a dream. The doctor ties off the umbilical cord, washes the infant, and wraps him tightly. He is standing near the doctor, and the doctor finally turns, and holds the bundle towards him.
She continues holding his hand tightly. The monitor registers several more beats, irregular, arrythmic, but he is still fading. The staff increase their resuscitation efforts, the AED is useless now. She kneels beside him, puts the baby beside him, holds the infant close to him. She weeps, remembering the accident, seeing him stretched out, torn open on the asphalt.
He holds the child, sees his son's face. He sees her face, she smiles, and closes her eyes in exhaustion. He holds the child. He could hold him forever. He wonders what his life will be like. He sees himself with his son. He sees him curled up with his son, his arm on the boy's shoulder, them reading comic books together. He sees his son reading his letter, framed on the wall. "I am only twelve, but I know I love you. Do you love me too?" He sees the letter now, old, wrinkled, faded. He sees him and his son, and everything he's planned to do together. He sees himself holding his son on his shoulders, seeing himself racing with his son on quads, playing lasertag with his and his sons friends, sees his son laughing in bliss, he grinning in merriment. He sees himself fishing with his son, shooting with him at the range, exploring the bay in scuba gear, and backpacking through the mountains. He sees himself telling stories to him, sees himself teaching the boy lessons, how to climb a rock face, how to fight, how to hide, how throw a ball. He hears his son telling him, "I know you love me, and I love you too." He suddenly recognizes his son, he knows that he sees himself in his son, and no matter what happens to him, he can leave the boy everything; The boy will love and care for everything even after he himself leaves.
The machine loudly flatlines, for the third time. She gasps, holds her son in one arm, grasps his limp hand in her other. Her eyes plead at the staff, but they can do little. They remove her hand and try the AED again, but it is fruitless. The CPR does little good. They try longer, and eventually stop. She holds his hand desperately, wishing it would do some good.
He sees, and smiles to himself, the mornings that he woke his wife to, his son too. He sees the light on his sons hair, sees himself stroking his wife's shoulders as she slept. He sees the two sharing a comforter on the patio as they watched the children play in the lot in the afternoon, watched his son among them. He sees the sunset and the stars in the evening. This far from the city, the stars were so bright. He smiles again, almost smelling his sharp Raspberry tea, and her favorite, the milder Vanilla and Cinnamon tea. He sees her reach her hand out to him, and he clasps it in his own, as evening falls, and all fades to white.