Smoke by Hawra’a Khalfan

As soon as I opened the car door, the crisp, dry, cold air slapped my face—triggering me to stand frozen in my place. “Thanks!” I forced a smile, waving goodbye to the cab driver as I stood outside the yellow car. Everything around me was covered in white, and at that moment time did not exist. The only thing that existed is the amount of steps it would take for me to walk indoors. Oh! How I love the way the snowflakes sparkle from afar. I locked my eyes on my target as I took a deep breath of callous oxygen. There it is, the blue building filled with an infinite number of Angels of Death. There it is, the blue building filled with sorrow and regret, where loathing and unconditional love finally meet in an equilibrium.

I took my time while making my way to those haunted E.R. doors, trying to prolong the inevitable. Despite the gloomy atmosphere in this building, and every other one of it’s kind, the one thing that reminds me of the desolation that takes place here is the smell. The smell that took over huge chunks of my life, the smell that left holes of worry in my heart, the smell that acts as a cloud of suffocating smoke which enters my lungs and reminds every atom in my body that things will never get any better than this. Finally, I walked into the hospital doors and the smell slapped me harder than the icy wind had. The cold, for that brief moment, was my safe haven from my broken reality. Finally, when I had no reason to enter this blue building any longer, this smell enveloped my whole life and wherever I went, it was in a hue of smoke around me, making it impossible to move on.

The warmth in the hospital hallway had started to make me uneasy and I started considering running back to the welcoming cold. I turned my neck slowly to be able to take in all the faces around me. All of them had the same look in their eyes; they looked as terrified as I felt. All of these people ended up in the same place on the same day at the same time; all of them had something unfortunate happening in their lives. “They were all afraid of being in my shoes,” I whispered to myself. As that thought stormed into my mind like an avalanche, I grew more aware of the mountain of tears that was about to erupt onto my cheeks. I will not cry. I will not give anybody something to look at. I will hold it all back. I. will. not. cry. I started envisioning the same cloud that holds me tight, gripping them as it does me; from every angle. I no longer inhale oxygen as I have given myself fully to my new restraint. The simplest task such as taking another step forward or merely pressing the elevator button vacuumed all of my energy away- I knew what was waiting for me on the other side. I know of the sorrow that awaits; the grief that will soon unveil itself the second I walk into that room. I know the hardship I will have to face; the regret I will feel for the moments I can no longer change.

I know what is to come.

I made my way to the room, taking the smallest steps possible towards the moment I will not forget for the rest of my life. It isn’t true unless I see it. The doctor got a glimpse of me and rushed toward me with her arms ready to hold mine.

“We did everything we could.”

“I know.”

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