A Moment of Silence

10/31/2020 3:20:34 PM
Luke Holm is a middle school English teacher, athletics coach, and author of "Chasing Humanity: 250-word Short Stories." He's had short stories and poetry published in several online and in-print magazines. He's also had English curriculum published by Yale University. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing, getting creative, and being in nature. You can find him on a variety of social media accounts @JourneyHolm.
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There was a moment of silence when she closed her eyes for the final time. The heart rate monitor flatlined with its piercing tone, but the sound was lost to me. It seemed as if the whole world had paused, waiting to see if her eyes would flutter open again. It felt like a movie. Then, reality roared in like the vacuum of space sucking my wife away.

 

Suddenly, the room was filled with white coats and nurses. My back hit the wall and I slid down, spinning and sick. I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. Instead, I felt numb. Detached. Alone. Someone lifted me off the ground and led me out of the room. They guided me down a whitewashed hall. The bright lights made white spots, and I again collapsed in a heap upon the floor.

 

Weeks. Months. Years. Time passed slowly and then quickly, but her final words stayed with me every moment of the day, “This isn’t the end of us.” 

 

I’m not going to lie, that fucking unnerved me. I mean, shit, I’ve been every bit as loyal as a husband could ever be, but a man has his needs! Is she really waiting, glaring down, and frowning as I comb the streets looking for someone to meet? Every time I greet a woman passing by, I feel her eyes watching, judging not only me but the woman I talked to on the street. 

 

Then, one day, I ran into a woman named Marge. She was cool as could be. She was also a widower, and we clicked instantly. Marge lost her husband in a motorcycle accident. He flew off the side of a mountain. They didn’t find him for weeks, but when a group of hikers found his pack, he was marked dead on impact.

 

Marge and I slowly developed a relationship. I felt guilty every step of the way, but I also have to say I wasn’t sorry. Marge was the lady I needed at the time, or so I thought. Because after several months of dating, she started acting kind of strange. 

 

I realized her odd behavior when I dropped her off in the evenings. “Want to have some coffee?” I’d wink, but she would never invite me in. Instead, she’d pat my leg and say we’d meet up again the next day. 

 

And we did. The next day, she was always waiting at the same table--waiting for me with a cup of my favorite coffee, lovely as could be, smiling, and acting overly friendly. She would have a list of activities we’d complete throughout the day, and, when it was all over, I’d take her home again.

 

It was thoroughly confusing. I’d been out of the dating scene for what seemed like a century. Finally, I asked, “What are we doing? We’ve been seeing each other for a few months now, but I have no idea who you are or where we are at in our relationship. Are we friends? Are we dating? What’s happening?”

 

Marge looked at me with sad eyes. “There’s something I have to show you,” she said. She led me to an old building, an abandoned warehouse outside of the city. “I must admit, our relationship isn’t what it seems . . . Surprise!”

 

She slid open a giant, steel door. Inside, a million glowing wires strung from the ceiling led to a giant vat in the center of the room. Marge led me closer, and I gasped. Suspended in a clear, blue-green fluid was my wife, or so I thought. 

 

“It’s a clone,” Marge said, as if reading my thoughts. “Your wife matched her DNA to a host when she was diagnosed.”

 

I walked around the vat, staring at the inanimate body floating inside. It had every feature I remembered, down to the birthmark on her thigh. 

 

“She won’t remember,” Marge continued, “your life together. You’ll have to start fresh, but it’s what your wife wanted. She believed you’d be so attracted to each other that it wouldn’t matter.”

 

“Then what were we doing?”

 

We were waiting,” Marge said. “Your wife hired me to distract you while her new body was brought online.” She turned to a giant computer screen relating the progress of completion. It was at 99%. “It’s time.”

 

A million tiny lights glittered across cables supercharging the science experiment floating in front of me. The computer came alive and started a countdown. 

 

“Animation in 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . .”

 

“This is goodbye,” Marge said. She turned and ran out of the room, and I wondered if I should do the same.

 

“7 . . . 6 . . . 5 . . .”

 

The body started to twitch as if it was being electrocuted.

 

“4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . .”

 

I couldn’t leave. I had nothing else. My wife was the only woman I’d ever truly loved. Maybe she was right. Maybe it could be the same. 

 

“1.”

 

When my wife opened her eyes, there was a moment of silence . . .