A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

You Are My Heart
by Jayme Howard (Nov 2012)

In the quiet of my bath, I slowly submerged under the warm, still water. The world around me blurred. How peaceful death must be. I was tired of losing and thought that eternal sleep might be my only win. I wanted to withdraw and shut the world out. Then I thought of her, the angel in my life. My reliance on her and her reliance on me swelled in my mind. I emerged. The bathroom air felt cool on my warm skin. I breathed.

I slipped into my robe and walked towards her room. A splinter of light streamed into the hallway; a reminder of the many blessings in my life. Her bedroom door creaked as I slowly nudged my head in. I could hear that she had finally fallen asleep; her breathing was deep and regular. Quietly I crossed the worn threshold into her room; the lamp on the oversized oak bedside table gently glowed outlining her contented, angelic face. Outside, the moon silently peered through the parted curtains casting shadows of dancing figures on the pink rose wallpaper that framed her bed. The house was quiet. I felt the safety of her room and for a moment indulged myself in the many memories that lingered in the walls. As my eyes adjusted to the golden glow, I quietly gazed from one corner of the room to the other, as I had a 1000 times before, and felt comforted, as I had 1000 times before. Creeping towards her, I gently pulled the bed covers up and tenderly kissed her cheek; her eyelids fluttered for just a moment. Turning off the table light and looking back at the angel in my life I whispered, “I love you.” The words echoed in my mind as I quietly left her room, closing the door behind me, trusting the moonlight to be her sentry for the night.

Alone, in my own room, I thought to myself; she’s all I have left. I’ve lost so much, but without her, I would have lost my mind. I know I owe my existence and sanity to her. My thoughts wash backwards against time to my first loss; my dad. He had been so ill. It was a relief I suppose. But what I didn't know, was that it was only the beginning for the next losing race ahead.

I can still hear my husband’s confident voice whispering in my ear, “we can beat this ya’ know.” He joked that he didn't know which was worse, his cancer or their cure; but we knew. The travel between Dallas and Chicago for monthly treatments became harder and our nights more sleepless. Months crawled by as he became more ill. Then suddenly there were no more Chicago flights.

With back to back losing races, I had lost the two most important men in my life. I was crushed at work and falling behind the “pack.” Leaving no other options, I was fired. I didn't fight it; I just dropped out. I knew I couldn’t keep the pace. Each new step had brought pain and I continued to fall further behind. I was losing another race and then…I lost the house.


I turn down my bed and crawl under the safety of the covers. She is my strength I think to myself. I close my eyes, believing that tomorrow, with her, there will be a renewed strength and a race I can win. At that moment I say goodbye to my losses and give thanks for a new start. Then quietly I say a prayer for the angel in my life, thinking how a splinter of light streamed in from her window; a reminder of the many blessings in my life. I love you mother. I love you so much. You are my heart.

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Revised November 2012.