Day 141 – The Ticking

I’m tired, hungry and wrote it in forty minutes.

Word count: 730



“Wait… wait with me…” the old eighty-nine-year old whimpered.


Danny thought George had been sleeping. For the past half an hour he had been clearing up the medication and arranging everything that the next nurse would need for their shift.


It was the dead of night. Rain battered against the window. The storm was like a caged animal, lightening lashing out like striking claws. Contrary to the tumultuous night, the fourth floor of the hospital was quite quiet. There had been no issues at all throughout the night so far. Danny liked this. There was never any time to sort the mundane things out. He enjoyed arranging and sorting – making lists too. Tonight was a relaxed shift. He could spend time alone with the patients and talk them to sleep or simply ensure that all the paperwork had been completed. Danny could not deny he was tired though; the job usually never gave him the opportunity to be tired. There was only three quarters of an hour left of his shift and the only thing that was keeping him going was that he would be passing out in front of the television in an hour and a half’s time and watching the game he had recorded.


Danny looked up from his pile of forms that he had been filling in. George was an old man and he often talked in his sleep. George had been in here for three weeks now; the prognosis was not looking great.

“Please?” George pleaded.

“Oh you are awake,” Danny said, shifting his chair over to the bed.

“Haha, I still talk in my sleep, do I? My wife always hated that…”

“It doesn’t really bother me.”

Danny examined George. Although he spoke to him every day, he had never once sat down by his bed and chatted to him. He knew nothing of his life.

“Is your wife…?”

“Dead? Yeah, you can say it. It happened about five years ago…”

“What was her name?”

“Flora, oh how I miss her… I wonder if she’s waiting for me?”

“I’m sure she is…”

George coughed and spluttered. From his contorted face, he looked as if he were in phenomenal pain. Danny knew he was drugged up to the max – he was surprised he was conscious at all.

“How old are you, kid?”


“Ahhh. I was married by then. One kid. Jean. Margaret came along a little later.”

“Do they come and visit you?”

“No, no… no they live so far away, see. They’ve got their own lives now.”

George’s skin was like a pale yellow rubber. Age spots were scattered everywhere. A lightening fork struck across the sky directly outside the window.

“It’s a fantastic storm, isn’t it?” Danny tried to stimulate conversation.

“Yes, yes it is. It’s wet, horrible, it’ll probably mean you get left in the dark for a good few hours and it might scare the shit outta you, but there is something beautiful about it.” George stared out the window, eyes partially open and smiled slightly. “Don’t go wastin’ your life, Danny.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’ll never stop ticking til it stops… and by then it’ll be too late. Listen out for it once in a while… on a dark night when you’re alone and there ain’t anybody around at all,” George began spluttering violently again.

“Do you want me to call anyone?” Danny asked.

“It’s the end, now… I don’t think I can hear anything at all right now. Stay with me though, my daughter’s are already here,” he touched his chest above his heart gently.

“George, are you scared?” Danny, in all the time he had worked as a nurse, had never once asked that question to anyone.

“I think I would be scared if I wasn’t… but I’m old now… I’m in pain… I’ve had it all… my ticking is losing its tock…”

With every word, George’s voice grew weaker and more broken. Danny could feel the blood being drawn from his body as his heart slowed. Danny put his hand over George’s and held on to it lightly.

“I’m here,” Danny reassured George, “I’m here.”

“I’m – glad,” his breath was short now, he had to inhale after each word, “I’d – be – worried – if – if – my – last – moments – were – spent – talking – to my-myself…”

A ghost of a chuckle left his mouth and the rain thundered on outside.

~ by S.G. Mark on February 25, 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: