Final Image

“I had a wife. She’s gone now…”

I can barely hear myself.

“It hurts…”

“Shhh,” he says compassionately. “It’s okay. Rest.”

I lay my head back into his chest. Kneeling behind me, the young man holds me gently. He stops asking questions.

“I can’t breathe…”

“You’re okay,” he says.

His voice is soft and thin. He’s trying to convince himself, too – I know that.

“I’m sorry,” he tells me. “I had to do it. I don’t want you to go.”

Well, I don’t want to go either, but that’s just how it is.

I’m so tired…

The young man grasps at me and begins to cry. Struggling to breathe, I stare up at the sky aimlessly. The sun is rising.

I wonder then what it must feel like to hold someone as they die.

“Kohaku,” he says through his tears. “Is there anything you want me to do?”

I shake my head slightly. No. There’s nothing, no one for him to tell. I was always ready to go.

“I’ll do anything,” he pleads.

He’s trying to find a way to make himself feel better. Part of me feels bad for him, but I can’t think straight enough to come up with a lie. He deflates at my silence and continues the muffled crying.

“It hurts…”

With the young man behind me, I stare into the sunrise.

Then, all of a sudden, I close my eyes.

What else is there to see?

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