My short story, "The Gift," was published a few days ago. It is a fictionalization of my late husband's last 12 hours as seen from the viewpoint of his wife. The story was written for my college short story writing class. You can find it at: www.pensonfire.com/gift.html. Here are the first few paragraphs:
Molly Simpson looked at her reflection in the mirror as she ran cold water over the thin white washcloth she was holding. Her chubby face with large bags under her eyes and gaunt skin from too many nights of not enough sleep made her look much more than 30 years old. There were hints of grey all over her short brown hair that hadn't been there six months ago. The harsh lights in the small bathroom did nothing to help her look better.
She was exhausted and she wanted nothing more than to go home to her king-size bed and fall into a deep and dreamless sleep. Instead, she was at the hospital tending to her soon-to-be ex-husband Patrick. He'd called her at work and asked her to come see him. Molly had wanted to tell him no but couldn't come up with a better excuse than "I'm too tired" so she dropped Aileen, their six year old daughter, at his mother's house after work and headed to the hospital.
When the fabric was soaked, she turned off the tap and carefully wrung it out. Molly carried the still dripping washcloth across the white tiled linoleum floor to Patrick's hospital bed, which was reclined slightly so he was able to sit up comfortably. His balding head was resting on a pillow.
"Can you turn down the heat?" Patrick motioned in frustration to the controls on the radiator under the window. "It's too damned hot in here."
"Here, maybe this will help some," Molly offered, not wanting to get into a pointless fight over heat. She used the washcloth to mop up the sweat beading on his face then gently placed it on his forehead. He sighed as it took the edge off and he seemed to relax for the first time since she walked into the large white room.
Molly evaluated his condition and wasn't happy about what she saw-he was having trouble breathing, unable to cool down, and couldn't get comfortable. The standard-issue white and blue checked hospital gown was sticking to him all over as he sweated profusely. Molly wasn't a medical professional but she'd spent enough time around hospitals and sick people to know when things were not as they should be.