The Eye of the Beholder
By Adam Rhodes
After his world is shattered by the loss of his soulmate, a man is haunted by a note she left for him.
Contact info for Adam Rhodes
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A man stood in the lobby of the hospital. His twitching foot and shallow breathing betrayed how close he was to the edge. As the doctor approached, the look of his face made the man’s heart drop and his eyes threaten to overflow.
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do.” The words of the doctor faded behind the sound of his heart breaking. The flow of tears took several long minutes to quell enough for him to follow a nurse.
The man followed the nurse like the walking dead down the endless halls to the room.
He stood at the threshold, frozen in place despite knowing his time was limited. It took him a moment to summon the courage to face what lay beyond. As he walked in, he calmed his quaking heart and dried his eyes.
“Hello gorgeous.” He said as he approached the bed.
The small body in the bed was unable to respond through the tubes and bandages. A flitter of the eyes showed that his words had registered. The man smiled as his world regained consciousness. He gripped her frail hand and gave it a warm but gentle squeeze.
The slight pressure brought a reflexive twitch showing that it hurt. The pull was so weak that he hardly felt it. He looked down at the tray next to the bed and noticed a mess of post-it notes. The bright squares had squiggles and crude drawings everywhere.
Dozens of the small notes littered the area around the bed. Along with small mechanical pencil that clearly scribed everything. The man scanned a few of the latest and one caught his eye.
The note read “You understand that what we experience as reality is only one point of view in a vast web of reality right?”
The man beat back a wave of tears. He knew he had to be strong for her. He picked up the pencil and wrote below it “You are beautiful from every point of view.”
Hours later he left the small form in the room. The next day he returned as soon as he could and was led back by another nurse. Once again he found himself frozen on the precipice before the room. The breath caught in his chest caused him to begin crumbling again.
His memories both reinforced his determination to show stability and eroded it at the foundation. Like a calving ice flow, the tumultuous roil threatened catastrophic failure. But as the facade crumbled, it was buoyed by the knowledge that he still had time.
“Hola mi amor.” He said as he passed the gateway.
Once again the small form barely responded. The treatments to prolong life left her completely exhausted. As time went on, they were getting longer and so was the time it took her to recover. The man sat on the edge of the bed and ran his thumb across her gaunt cheek.
The touch elicited a small twitch of the eyelids. But the frail form couldn’t summon the energy to open even a single eye. The slight wobble of her head showed how hard she was struggling just to respond.
The sound of his voice was like a beacon of home in the endless night that surrounded her. She knew it was only a matter of time but it seemed to be dragging on to infinity. Every breath was a struggle but the idea of hearing his voice again made her push past herself.
She knew he needed her to be strong. She had been there for him so long it seemed like forever. The two of them were a pair, two halves of the same soul. Without her there to believe in him, he wouldn’t have the courage to show the world the beauty he had inside.
The man told her about his day. He tried to fill the silence between them with anything he could think of other than the inevitable. As he spoke to her, he saw a new note stuck to the front of the one he had written on.
“If we could see the threads that make up this existence, perhaps we could weave a different tapestry.” The note read.
He looked at it for a long time. As the silence stretched, the form wrapped in freshly stained bandages quivered. When the man began speaking again the quivering slowed and the form went still again.
Trapped in the intermittent darkness, she waited for the end. The pharmaceuticals coursing through her veins made her drift in and out of awareness but could not stop the constant pain. He held her hand as darkness engulfed her weary mind for the last time.
Adrift and alone, the man held her close as she drew her last breath. All thoughts of strength fell away beneath the crashing hurricane of sorrow that thrashed his soul. Her bandages soaked up as many of his tears as it could but still they flowed.
When the man ran out of tears to cry, he finally let them take her body away. As they wheeled her past the portal, a hidden pocket of tears found their way to the surface. He steadied himself on the tray his dearly departed had used in her last days.
The final note she wrote stuck out like a call to action. As though she had reached beyond the veil to inspire him to action. He slowly peeled it from the stack of other notes as he pondered the implications.
“I am in the fabric of the universe. If you look hard enough, you will find me again.” The slip of paper read.
For the next forty years the man toiled. Every day working from the minute he rose until he collapsed from exhaustion. In that time he became known as an expert in many fields and invented many new devices.
Dissatisfied with the microscopes of the day, the man invented new ways to see. During his lifetime, he found cures to diseases, developed materials never before seen in the universe, created true artificial intelligence and advanced human understanding in ways that no other had.
As the man lay on his deathbed, he thought of his life. “My life is a complete failure.” he remarked to himself.
His android caretaker responded “Sir, you have many notable accomplishments. None could consider your life a failure.“
“I am a failure because I could never find her. I looked my entire life and all I saw was her ghost. A phantom of what once was at best and a twisted abomination at worst.” The man said as the android adjusted his bedding.
He ran his thumb across the androids cheek. “I wish you could have known her.” He said sadly.
“Who do you wish I knew?” the automaton asked.
“My other half. My one and only. I lost her…” His voice trailed off as he was transported through time and space. He relived his life with her in the flash of an eye and was back at the end of his life.
His voice came back weakly and gained strength as it continued. “I looked as deeply as I could and I could never find her. She is waiting for me and I don’t know where to look.”
The machines he was hooked up to registered his agitation and administered enough medicine to calm him. As his blood pressure slowly lowered, he closed his eyes. For forty years the only thing he had seen on the back of his eyelids was her face.
But this time his eyelids only brought darkness. Everything faded as his heart slowed and his life faded. The final whispered words to cross his dying lips were “Finalmente te encontarè.”