Pierced in the Side
March. A Friday. I watched him, sat by his side for more than two days while he writhed on the ground and clutched his side. Pawed at it, like it was lit by a bonfire from within.
We weren’t close to any doctor. I know the superficial things: administering pills, bracing sprains, disinfecting superficial wounds. Surgery, what goes on inside human skin, that is beyond my purview.
Helpless. I’d trade places with him if I could.
Instead, I sat on the ground with him. Mopped his brow with a cool cloth. Gave him a piece of leather strap to bite down on when the waves of pain assaulted him. Refused to leave him to eat, and napped when he was spent.
He looked up at me once, a sheen of cold sweat dotting his blueish face, and he whispered You’re a fine leader, Sir. I’d follow you anywhere. Nothing scares you. Not even watching me die.
I gripped his hand without the heart to ask him. Can I follow you now? My own selfish ponderings seemed a rude insertion into his misery, a send-off into the hereafter with a final grand letdown.
I held his hand and asked for a song on the fiddle. Something lyric and upbeat. I smiled at him for as long as he could see, while I tapped my foot to the rhythm and prayed for his dying breath to mark me.
Thank you, Sir. It was a sputter. Weak. His face a mask of release, his mouth upturned. I think he fluttered through me, scraped across my soul.
And so he died.
This post is part of the series Death Becomes Me. It is a series of fiction. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here to read the first installment, go here for the second, go here for the third, click here for the fourth and go here for the fifth.