2nd Passing – Speakeasy #146

01-27 Natural Bridge42

Five family members crowded into a room big enough to hold a bed and two lumpy vinyl armchairs.  For weeks, we had taken turns sitting by his bedside, obsessing over flattened pillows, food, oxygen tubes; basically, fussing over him until he shooed us away with a frown and agitated flick of his arm.  After nurses predicted his end loomed near, life halted and we converged all at once.

I had been the last to arrive.  I found a space in the dimly lit lot and had just pulled the parking brake when Mom reached my car.

“He passed away!”  She took a long drag of her cigarette and slowly released the smoke through her thin lips.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t get here earlier.”  She pulled me toward the hospice building, pausing a moment to squash the cigarette butt on the curb.  Over my shoulder, I clicked the remote twice, locking doors and setting the car alarm.

We entered the room, interrupting a stunned silence.

“He’s got a pulse,” the nurse said, shaking her head.  “There was none, but it’s back.  This hasn’t happened before.”

“S-so, he’s not dead?”  I cringed at my bluntness.

The nurse shook her head.

“Well, I’ll be,” Grandma said, frasmotic over the loss and return of her beloved.  She twisted a tissue around fidgety fingers.

My family moved aside and I squeezed through an opening smaller than my girth.

“Hi, Grandpa,” I said, grasping his chilled fingers.  I didn’t know what else to say.

Mom nudged me.  “Tell him it’s okay to go,” she whispered in my ear.

“I’m not saying that!”

“He waited for you.”

I sniffed back tears.  He spent his life showing me how to be tough.  I had to show him he succeeded.

“Talk to him,” Mom said.

“Um… hi, Grandpa.  It’s me.”  I held his hand.  Words escaped me.

Mom nudged again.

“Mom says it’s okay for you to go.  We’ll take care of Grandma.”  There.  I’d said it.  I released his veiny, thin-skinned hand and moved away from the bed.  I skirted out of the room to the freedom of the hallway.

By the time I returned, Grandma held his hand.  A nurse checked his vitals every half hour.  On the fourth check, she announced he had no pulse.

“Are you sure?”  Grandma asked, skeptical of contrafibularities, with his first death and spontaneous resuscitation, and all.   “He won’t fool me again!”  She pulled at the wadded tissue in her hands.

Minutes later, the nurse confirmed he had indeed passed away.  Mixed emotions swirled.  Relief over suffering’s end mingled with sorrow that his life had become a memory.

Each person in the room slipped from Grandpa’s bedside, trickling into the hallway and into the lobby.

I sat there and waited, but he never came back.


This is my response to the Speakeasy weekly prompt, which is to write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 464) with (1) “I sat there and waited, but he never came back.” as the last sentence, and (2) some reference to the media prompt, which was a clip of Blackadder the Third, entitled C is for Contrafibularity. (I used 2 words from the video:  frasmotic and contrafibularities.)

This story is fictional, however, it is loosely based on actual events.  Grandpa really did die twice, puzzling the nurses.

The prompt is open to anyone, so if you want to give it a try, check out the badge below for full prompt information.  Have a beautiful week!



56 thoughts on “2nd Passing – Speakeasy #146

  1. vishalbheeroo January 27, 2014 / 7:11 AM

    Mom know another person who died…twice she lived for another 20 years. Crisply written and heart pounding, Jannat:)

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 7:42 AM

      That does happen, Vishal! I should clarify that this happened in hospice. At last check, he had 6% lung capacity, so he shouldn’t have had the strength to come back. Emphysema is a horrible disease…

  2. nrhatch January 27, 2014 / 7:53 AM

    Poor Grandma. Frasmotic and skeptical of contrafibularities all in the same day!

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 10:12 PM

      Good thing she didn’t get anaspeptic 🙂 Thanks for reading, Nancy!

  3. mandyblake95 January 27, 2014 / 10:31 AM

    Such a sad story, I’m glad she got there in time to say goodbye.

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 10:14 PM

      Thanks, Mandy! Death (unfortunately) is a part of life.

  4. Debbie January 27, 2014 / 12:08 PM

    I’ve never heard of this, Janna. Now you’ve given me something else to worry about — dying twice. As if once isn’t enough! Well written story, but oh so sad.

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 10:15 PM

      I wouldn’t worry about it, Debbie! The up side is that you’d have two chances to get it just right 🙂

  5. diannegray January 27, 2014 / 1:33 PM

    Great story, Janna. It’s very visual and I love that! 😀

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 10:16 PM

      Thanks, Dianne! I appreciate you taking time to read the story.

  6. kathy29156 January 27, 2014 / 2:58 PM

    So sad, but at least she got to say her goodbyes. Both of my parents had near death experiences where they coded and came back. They weren’t pronounced dead or anything like that but they were lost and brought back. I loved this story. You did a wonderful job on it. I have joined speakeasy but am a little intimidated to attempt it yet. I am still just getting my sea legs writing fiction. This was so good, and polished. You are an amazing writer! ♥ You make it look so easy. I guess it takes practice. Perhaps someday I will get there too.

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 10:19 PM

      I really appreciate you reading the story and sharing your own experience, Kathy. Speakeasy has been fun because some of the prompts are a bit tricky (like the one this week!) I hope you’ll jump in when you feel comfortable 🙂 Oh, and thanks so much for your kind words about my writing. Once in a while I get lucky and something I write strikes a chord with someone!

  7. chlost January 27, 2014 / 4:25 PM

    Very well written. And an amazing story.

  8. pattisj January 27, 2014 / 10:01 PM

    I was wondering where you ever came up with contrafibularities! I enjoyed reading your true-to-life story, squeezing into the tiny room with lumpy chairs (you had two?) I’ve never seen that before. Nice job, Janna!

    • jannatwrites January 27, 2014 / 10:22 PM

      Most of the story is fiction – including the room description. The room we really had fit one arm chair and two folding chairs. I just thought it would be nicer to have two chairs so I wrote it that way 🙂 Thanks for reading, Patti!

  9. Bastet January 28, 2014 / 1:24 AM

    Such a lovely, loving sad story. A great read.

    • jannatwrites January 28, 2014 / 8:23 AM

      Thanks so much for stopping by to read it, Bastet!

      • Bastet January 28, 2014 / 8:50 AM

        My pleasure Janna… 🙂

  10. Lala Rukh January 28, 2014 / 4:27 AM

    Great story. I wishes till the end that Grand Pa don’t die 😦 The lines where you, I mean the story teller was talking to Grand Pa and the communication with mother at the same time was awesome.I can’t imagine someone I love suffering like that…it’s heart breaking. Love your story Janna !

    • jannatwrites January 28, 2014 / 8:26 AM

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the story, Lala! I appreciate you taking time to read it and share your thoughts 🙂

  11. ranu802 January 28, 2014 / 5:01 AM

    I could sense his pulse was still there because he was waiting for his favorite grand daughter. He passed away peacefully knowing his grand kid would take care of his wife. What a beautiful story. whenever I read your story about hospital and nurses ,it makes me think, you probably work in a hospital.

    • jannatwrites January 28, 2014 / 8:31 AM

      In the real-life passing of my grandpa, I do believe he waited for me, although I don’t know how he had the strength to do it. I was the only granddaughter. We’d had a bit of a falling out and I didn’t go to see him for the month prior. I shouldn’t have been so sensitive, but he made me feel like I was there when it mattered.

      Your comment made me smile, Ranu. I always hope my stories feel real. I don’t work in a hospital and rarely visit them because I find them depressing. I actually work at an insurance company, in the IT department 🙂 Thanks so much for taking time to read my story and leave your comment. I appreciate it!

  12. Silverleaf January 28, 2014 / 6:21 AM

    Very nicely done! I love how you worked the prompt into the story. I’m rather stuck this week, but enjoyed reading this, despite the depth of sadness you so aptly communicated.
    We’re going through the same thing at the moment with my father in law, so this really hit home.

    • jannatwrites January 28, 2014 / 8:33 AM

      I think this one was hard – mostly because of the media prompt. Maybe something will come to you if you let it sit for day. I’m sorry you’re living this story right now. It is so painful to see our loved ones go. My thoughts are with you, Silverleaf.

      • Silverleaf January 28, 2014 / 12:25 PM

        Thank you. That’s very kind of you, Janna.
        And, hey, I managed to come up with something to write, too.

        • jannatwrites January 28, 2014 / 9:12 PM

          I’m so glad you wrote something!

  13. Lauren Kells January 28, 2014 / 7:41 PM

    Fabulous drama! I’ve also been in a similar position and been told to talk softly and let the person know it was okay to go…

    • jannatwrites January 28, 2014 / 9:13 PM

      Thanks, Lauren! I still have trouble with the telling them it’s okay to go, but sometimes they do need the reassurance that things will be okay without them.

  14. znjavid January 28, 2014 / 10:43 PM

    Ok that was a bit scary, I thought Grandpa would get up say Boo!

  15. tedstrutz January 29, 2014 / 12:14 AM

    frasmotic huh? Are you sure you aren’t a writer for Blackadder? You make it look so easy. I liked your main character and here story, JT.

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:23 AM

      Thanks so much for reading, Ted! I love the words they made up in that clip… if only I could do that 🙂

  16. BCIJo (aka Joanne Edith) January 29, 2014 / 5:46 AM

    Janna, you did it again. You touched real nerves of real people, who endure(d) real loss, and captured all of the real and often conflicting emotions. A beautiful use of the prompt.

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:24 AM

      I appreciate your kind words, Joanne. Thanks so much for reading my story!

  17. J. Milburn January 29, 2014 / 6:05 AM

    Such a sad story and I’m glad the good byes were able to be said. It reminds me when my grandma passed away. She’d stop breathing and we thought it was over, then she’d draw another breath. That was a difficult time. The prompt made this one difficult and you wove it in wonderfully.

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:26 AM

      My grandma on my dad’s side did kind of the same thing. I wasn’t at her side (she lived in Denver and held on for over month after her stroke) but my parents relayed it to us. The media prompt was especially difficult this time around. Thanks for reading, J.!

  18. Sandra January 29, 2014 / 9:00 AM

    Very emotional piece. I wasn’t sure if he really died twice or the nurse was giving the narrator a chance to say goodbye. But I know that this can happen. Nicely done.

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:27 AM

      I think it could be interpreted either way, Sandra! Thanks so much for stopping by to read it.

  19. aishasoasis January 29, 2014 / 11:17 AM

    It was such a sad story, I felt ashamed of myself for laughing out loud when you used contrafibularity!! Great job!

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:28 AM

      You shouldn’t feel bad Aishaoasis – that word is a silly one that can hardly be said seriously 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!

  20. Lance January 29, 2014 / 1:25 PM

    sad but well-written poignant piece.

    Love the picture

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:29 AM

      Thanks for reading Lance! I took the photo at the Tonto National Bridge several months ago 🙂

  21. Karen January 29, 2014 / 7:47 PM

    I really enjoy your style of writing. Great use of dialogue.


    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:30 AM

      Thanks, Karen! Your comment was timely- I really needed to hear this today as I’m trying to polish up a story for a contest… I just don’t feel “literary” enough 🙂

  22. Esther January 29, 2014 / 9:40 PM

    A sad story that rings true. Excellent use of the prompts 🙂

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:31 AM

      Thanks, Esther! I appreciate you reading it 🙂

  23. tinsenpup January 29, 2014 / 10:57 PM

    This is clever and well told and, as others have pointed out, so true to life.

    • jannatwrites January 30, 2014 / 12:32 AM

      I’m glad it feels real! Thanks for taking time to read and share your reaction, Tinesnpup 🙂

  24. gem January 30, 2014 / 3:00 PM

    I like fiction based loosely on reality/real events. I saw my own mother in the grandmother for some reason, but the grandfather was a no body…hmm…my own interpretation I guess, a different perspective even if unintended. I like the true twist of death being final…yet kind of not.

    • jannatwrites January 31, 2014 / 11:45 AM

      I like hearing that you could relate to some of the characters, Gem! That’s the interesting part about writing… different people interpret a scene in ways affected by past experiences. Thanks so much for taking time to read and share your thoughts.

  25. agjorgenson January 30, 2014 / 7:15 PM

    Nicely done. These are holy moments, and you caught something of that.

    • jannatwrites January 31, 2014 / 11:50 AM

      Yes, God works in everything. Thanks for stopping by, Allen!

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