Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate

The door moved soundlessly on its new fangled hinges into the dark room. He waited for his eyes to get accustomed to the darkness, intruded upon only by the glow of the street lamp three storeys below the large window and the full moon, so very far above it. The almost silence seemed solid, a living thing holding its peace. He tiptoed into the room so as not to break it. The sound of his leather shoes stretching to accommodate the movement of his feet echoed in his ears. He held his breath as though hoping that he could make up for the animation of his feet with the stillness of his lungs. The large bed occupied most of the room, the white sheets dropping off the sides of the bed until they almost touched the floor.
The only occupant of the room lay silent and peaceful, protected from the world behind a veil of slumber.
He walked softly toward the bed, the silence forgotten, all of his attention focused, his heart beating as though he'd run a marathon. He placed the styrofoam cup he was holding on the end table and stared down at her face.
"Beautiful, so beautiful. You always looked cute when you were asleep ... peaceful. Quite a change from the bundle of energy you normally are ... ", he whispered. Looking down at the woman in the bed, the corners of lips turned up in an almost smile, the sadness in his eyes pushing them down.
He sat beside her on the bed. Her head on the pillow, face framed by the deep black shoulder length locks, highlighted by the soft moonlight streaming in through the window, looked exactly as it had so very long ago. The soft ticking of the wall clock seemed an unwelcome intruder, reminding him that he couldn't stay too long. Reminding him that if he did he wouldn't be able to do what he had come for. He reached for the cup, the coffee in it had turned cold while he paced outside the room gathering his courage, trying to figure out what to say. Trying to make this seem right somehow. A soft smile tickled the corners of his lips. He shook his head slightly.
"My greatest weakness ... how many times have you told me to stop drinking this sludge. And then you go and insist that you should make it for me. 'The froth is the most fun part.' It takes so long for you to make a single cup of coffee, but it's always worth it ... just to see the satisfaction on your face", he smiles at her, swirling the coffee in the cup, hoping to replicate the feat that she'd gotten down to an art.
The faint sound of a bus rushing past the building, winding its way to its destination.
"Remember the first time we went out for coffee. You were so late. I was waiting at the bus stop for almost an hour", he snickered into the cup. "I'll never forget that sheepish grin you had on your face when you got of the bus. Then that puppy dog expression. That would melt anybody's heart .... always worked on me."
His eyes fell on the silver locket glistening in the moonlight - 'Angel'.
"The first fight we ever had. You remember that. Those lockets you wanted to make out of clay."
He looked up at the ceiling of the room, noticing the cracks in the smooth white surface. "We barely spoke for days after that. I felt so terrible. I remember coming over with the flowers and that box of candy ...what was it ... your favourite kind. The expression on your face changed so quickly once you saw those. I never seen a frown turn into a smile that quick!"
He chuckled into his cup. He moved to sit more comfortably on the bed. His hand brushed hers. Gently opening her fingers he held it, the warmth from her hand seeping into his cold, sweaty palm.
"Talking to you used to be so easy, so simple. I'd never have to worry about what I said to you, never had to look before I leaped ... with you. I don't know how much of money the company had to spend on my phone bills just for the time that I spent in the office talking to you."
He brushed a stray lock of her hair away from her eyes.
"I always found it strange that you never called me by name. You'd just say 'listen' everytime you wanted my attention. Why is that? I remember how you laughed when I'd respond to that with 'listening'. It always got such a rise out of you. It was so easy to make you laugh."
Grinning, he took another sip of his coffee. The bitter taste at the bottom of the glass making him grimace. Throwing the almost empty cup into the bin he hunched over as though the act had sapped him of all of his remaining energy. He rested his face in his palms. The sweat from his brow finding its ways between his fingers. The weight of what he had come to do making him hunch over further. Only his elbows resting on his legs keeping him from falling over.
"I'm sorry, Angel. I'm sorry for so many things. I'm sorry I didn't take you out dancing. I'm sorry I never learned how to dance, I know how much you love it."
He looked at her, tears glistening in his eyes.
"I'm sorry for what I'm going to do. I just don't have the strength to go on anymore. I feel like I'm letting you down, like I'm letting us down. I'm leaving town tomorrow, I have a new job far away from here."
He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an envelope that he placed on the side table.
"This should explain everything."
He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. He touched the locket she wore, running his fingertip over the cursive script.
"Merry Christmas, Angel. I love you."
He pushed himself off the bed and walked to its head, reaching behind it, all the while keeping his eyes on her. The soft click of a switch being turned off. The room seemed to become suddenly more silent, still as the surface of a pond in winter, broken only the ticking of the clock and the sound of just one person breathing.
Mr. Kaunds brushed the cheek of his Angel one last time and walked out of the room into the corridor of the hospital.
Mr. Kaunds is one of the people I introduced more than a year ago in 'A Pinch of Soul'.
Euthanasia is a concept and an act that we all have to learn to deal with. We can't choose how we're born, but we should be able to choose how we die. Some of us are unable to do even that. If nothing else, we should at least be able to die with dignity.