She sat, clattering away at her keyboard. She knew she had to work hard. It was the only way that she would be able to make time for her family. Only by working hard now, would she have the ability to relax later in life. Only by working hard now, could she guarantee a good retirement and time that belonged to her. Time that she could say that she was really doing something she wanted to be doing.
She glanced up at the clock. It was 1:30am. Her children were probably asleep. She didn’t see them much these days, but she didn’t worry. Her husband would take care of them in her absence. With a stretch, she dove back into her work. She’d been at the office since 6 in the morning. But she knew that she couldn’t rest. This was the only way that she could make progress. This was the only way that she would have time.
She needed the money. She needed to be able to do these things. Suddenly, a phone call came to her desk. Strange. No one called her this late at night. Although her husband knew her number, he’d never call. Her coworkers were usually asleep by this hour as well. She turned her attention to the caller ID, slightly annoyed that she had to pause her work for something so insignificant.
She didn’t recognize the number. Ignoring it, she went back to work. Ling! It rang again, disturbing her concentration, before she could make any significant progress to her work. The caller ID showed the same number. Peeved, she picked up the phone, fully intending to scream at whoever was at the other side.
“Miss Zwaniska?” The person, at the other end, asked.
“Yes.” She answered, surprised that the other party hadn’t called the wrong number after all.
“We’re calling to inform you that, your husband and children have been sent to our hospital earlier this evening.” The woman said from the other end of the device. “Would you like to have the address?”
“Seriously? He’s in the hospital with them and he couldn’t take them home?” She muttered, opening a clean Google Search window. “Alright, what’s the address?”
“13012 Springvale Drive.” The woman on the other end answered.
“East Town Hospital?” She confirmed, reading the search result.
“Yes, ma’am.” The woman from the other end replied.
“Alright. Be there tomorrow morning.” She answered.
“Ma’am, I’d personally recommend that you come now.” The woman from the other end answered.
“I’m busy.” She answered, minimizing the webpage, and turning her attention back to her work.
“I know I’m not qualified to judge.” The woman from the other end responded. “But your family…they’re in critical condition right now. The doctor said, he can’t be certain that they’d make it to the next morning.”
“What?” She shouted, suddenly focused on what the other woman was implying. “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“We tried.” The woman answered. “But your husband’s identification was damaged from the accident. We weren’t able to make the call until we confirmed his identity.”
She dropped the phone, and dashed toward the exit. The only reason…the only reason that she’d dedicated herself so hard toward her work was because they were waiting for her. Because her husband and her children were waiting for her back home.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. They were supposed to have unlimited time together after she worked enough. After she reached a higher rank, worked for enough years, she would be able to retire early and accompany them at home. How did this happen?
Dashing outside of the office building, she hurried to her car. Before she knew it, she was before the hospital, her heart beating uncontrollably. They had to be okay. They had to be okay.
“I’m Zwaniska. I received a call that my husband and children are at this hospital.” She panted, desperate to get their location from the nurse sitting in the front.
“Just a moment ma’am” The nurse answered. “What’s your last name?”
“Conner.” She answered, handing her identification to the woman.
“Room 7123.” The woman answered. “Follow Kara, to my left. She’ll take you to there.”
“Thank you.” She said, immediately turning to follow the other woman.
Finally at the hospital room, she fell to her knees, beside her husband, as she took his hand into hers. Stinging tears came to her eyes.
“I thought we still had all the time in the world.” She said, as she stared at his face. “I thought that it’d be okay to dedicate myself fully to work for a couple years. But I never thought that the Lord would rob me of you and our children so quickly. Had I known, I would’ve taken more time off.”
She lowered lifted his hand to cup her face, like he used to do whenever she was upset.
“I kept telling myself that we had time. I kept using our bright future as an excuse for the amount of time that my work consumed. I was wrong.” She whispered. “Please wake up. I need you. I’d be so lost without you.”
Even before their marriage, they’d grown up together. She couldn’t imagine a life without him. Without their family. Slowly, she turned her attention to her children.
“I’m sorry. Gabby. Karry.” She said, beside them. “I wasn’t a good mother. Please wake up! Give me another chance! I know how much the two of you wanted to go to the beach. I promise we’ll go this time. Please…”
A pitiful laugh escaped her lips, as one by one, pulse monitors in the room became steady. Life is unpredictable. The last thing she should’ve done was take their presence for granted.
This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Microcosm” Publication
Tell us a fictional story inspired by a lie to yourself.