By Rebecca Higgins

You were in the hospital for two months with your eyelids softly closed. I lost myself looking at the gentle curve of your lashes reaching back to your eyebrows. Each day I shook your arm, like it was Christmas morning, and the kids were digging through their stockings. Bill would already have a layer of chocolate around his lips. Sarah would shake the boxes so hard that I would worry about the wrapping paper falling off. Remember? After about ten minutes, I let your arm sink back to you.

For sixty-one days, the whiteboard read WELCOME JEFF in careful, capital letters. Every couple of days, coarse stubble appeared on your cheeks, and I trimmed it away. Everything smelt of lemons; eventually, you smelt of lemons. I tried bringing your cologne, but it sunk in the sea of citrus. 

Nurses, doctors, specialists, and technicians rotated faster than the clock. I called Bill again; he does not answer. Sarah visited though. She brought her fiancé, Megan. They talked about moving the wedding up. A spring wedding would be nice. 

Your room had a nice view of the parking lot. I watched Sarah and Megan walk with their arms linked, crossing a patch of ice. The Chevy you told them to get because of the four-wheel drive got them home safe. I just wish yours could have done the same. 

I watched the cars come and go, amazed at how none of them come into contact with each other. That night I asked that you only have one whiskey sour at the bar, so by the time the game finished, you could drive home. Then Bill wouldn’t have had to. 

He’d only driven through two winters, and even then, I would end up driving him to school and his friends’ so we wouldn’t worry. Maybe I should have let him drive more. So he knew to turn into the skid. Maybe then you would remember all of this. 

About the author

Rebecca Higgins is a writer based in Minnesota. When she’s not writing, she edits children’s nonfiction books. Her work has appeared in Trailer Park Quarterly, The Fulcrum, and Canvas. Rebecca knows firsthand what it's like to experience mental illness and encourages everyone to practice self-love, and maybe get a cat.

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