by | Jul 23, 2020 | Love, Sadness | 47 comments

Her hand held fast in his as he did his best to smile down at her amidst the tidal crashing of emotions that washed over him; each wave a new dreading emotion that left him weakened with each tumble he took towards the shore of sanity. Inside he was struggling to make for his emotional surface that eluded him. He was straining to adjust himself to head for the ability to maintain control of himself and his emotions, and just when his lips would meet the emotional waters surface, another tidal wave of emotion plunged him back down into the darkness of his mind.

Beep 59 minutes

“That cheap suit you wore.” Her voice softly whispered to him. “You were so nervous. I could tell.” Sighing, he gave her hand a light squeeze and did his best force a smile through the fog of emotions clouding his ability to think in the moment. “Everyone wanted you. There wasn’t a boy in the high school that didn’t talk about having you.” His blue eyes looked down and away from her, a feeling of shy nostalgia creeping into his mind. “Well, you weren’t every boy. The way you always…” She drew in a deep breath and smiled up at him. “You’d always talked to me and asked me about myself. You were different.” He nodded and brought his eyes back over to hers. “Your life was far more interesting than mine. You were my escape from my own family tragedy.” She gave his hand a light squeeze. “And yet, you turned out just fine, sweetheart.”

Beep 43 minutes

“Isabelle has turned out to be such a good girl.” She said. “Do you remember when we brought her home?” He did his best to nod and smile at her. “I think we thought everything was going to possibly kil her.” A brief pause in his sentence gave way to a half cracked smile as he continued. “Every pantry had a dead bolt on it and you made sure there wasn’t a single chemical in arms reach. Hell, you even added extra dead bolts to the doors because of someone possibly robbing us.” She gave a soft chuckle and then winced a little. “Perhaps we overreacted just a little bit.” He sighed and nodded. “Perhaps just a little.” “But now, look at her. Graduating college and on her way. We did good.” She gave his hand a harder squeeze as he stepped back, releasing her grip to grab a chair and pull it closer to her bed and then sat, taking her hand in his once more.”

Beep 38 minutes

“I wanted to say that I’m sorry for not always having been the best husband to you.” His eyes teared up slightly as he did his best to keep going as another wave hit him and threatened to bring him back under. “You….you were so good to me.” He whispered out, clutching her hand and tenderly kissing the top of it. “You were human. We both are. It wasn’t easy to forgive you, and sometimes you made it damn near impossible, but I love you. Real love is just that, fighting for the life that exists between to people that they built together.” At this point his forehead rested atop the bed sheet as tears began streaming down his cheeks at the continuous thoughts that paraded like a carousel of images in his mind. The scenes of being in the arms of another woman as he though back to his wife at home with their child. The moment when he told her and she fell to her knees in the kitchen, plates shattering into thousands of littles pieces upon the tile floor that they’d picked out together once they’d been married. It was the one moment in his life he never forgave himself for, but what made it worse is that once she forgave him, she’d never spoken of it again. He knew it had hurt her deeply, but the fact that she’d always kept it buried and internalized it without speaking on it only made him hurt that much worse for knowing the internal pain he’d caused her for years.

Beep 21 minutes

She looked down her frail body at him and smiled in her eyes as she placed a hand on the back of his head and slowly stroked his hair in her usual motherly fashion. His shoulders trembled and she could feel his tears streaming down his cheeks. “I can see our first house.” She whispered out as her eyes slowly closed. “The bedroom door that would get wedged closed all the time.” His quiet sobbing had become mixed with soft laughter as his head raised slightly to turn and lay atop the bed, peering at her from his red eyes. “You took a second job just to be able to afford moving us in there.” She cooed softly to him as she continued to lightly pet his head. “I was so proud of you. You looked like the king of the world the day we started moving in. You’d accomplished something so great.” He sniffed and looked up at the ceiling while his lips pressed together tightly at the thoughts she’d caused to resurface in his mind. “I’d wanted to create a better life for you and Bella. It was my job to take care of you two.” She drew in a long breath and slowly released it, sighing through her nose. “And you did just that, sweety.”

beep 2 minutes

His eyes clamped shut after he looked to the old clock hanging above the doorway to her room. The second hand served as the indicator to the biggest heartbreak he’d ever feel. He inwardly cursed that second hand; t served as the bringer of the ending of the greatest chapter in his life. The soft clicks of the seconds being counted down caused him to inwardly flinch. “Mr Robertson, it’s time.” He slowly nodded and squeezed his wife’s hand one last time. Her eyes were closed as she had drifted off to sleep. No goodbye from her, or parting words of love. It stung even more knowing he couldn’t tell her how much he’d loved her and how she’d saved him. The white coated man standing at the side of the room pressed a button, and then all was quiet. The sounds of soft breathing turned labored, and then as if all at once, there was complete silence.

When they’d found cancer it had been too late. She was terminal with only weeks left. The beeping from the EKG had ceased, and then she was gone.


  1. Ethan

    Wonderful story, John

    • April

      I am sitting here in tears, as I remember this all to well from when I was sitting beside my mom as she took her last breath.

      • Brandon

        Pretty deep. Great story

        • Renee


  2. H

    I enjoyed this, to me Its a reminder to never take things for granted, and to enjoy the small moments because you never know when certain chapters of your life even ones you thought would last forever could end.

  3. Steve Adams

    Great short story John. I felt like I was right next to the old man watching what he and his wife were going thru after each “beep”. I felt the emotion. Congrats man. You are a man of many talents good Sir.

  4. A Edmonds

    *lump in my throat/tears on my face” Powerful, beautiful & heartbreaking… You painted a picture & it came through so clear & so real.

    • EMR

      This is really well written. I felt the emotions of the characters. Nice work.

    • Millieb

      Tears streaming down my face. Your short story painted a picture. A vivid one. Well done.

  5. Kathy


  6. Billy C.

    Holy shit……..I was literally in the room watching this happen, while reading this. What a great Piece. I’m not saying this just because you are John Burk. It is a really good piece.

  7. Cayden Justice

    John, you stunned me with this one man. Chills down my back and I can’t wait for you to release more of these. I loved it man

  8. Cassie Lopez

    Wow! This made me cry! Beautifully written! I want more!

  9. Pam Boneysteele

    Oh my goodness the tears. This is so good. I love to read and a good writer can bring pi out all kinds of emotions and you did just that. Just WOW

  10. Nikki

    Amazing work

  11. Lucas

    Wow… Can’t even describe how many feelings this read made me feel.

    I enjoyed this read and thank you for the lesson.

    Lucas Bermudez

  12. Judy

    It’s so hard to lose someone you love to cancer. I went through it 3 years ago and life has been so very lonely.

  13. Jessica

    That was touching , yet so real..I loved it Thank You! I would love to read more..

  14. Carmen

    Beautiful story, pulled at my heart strings. I felt as if you were writing about my future.

  15. Julie

    Beautiful. I felt that.

  16. Laura

    Wow. The “Beeps” were what finalized it. Heart wrenching

  17. Christy

    Wow, such deep emotion in the words you write. You really make the reader feel it as if it was their own story or a picture show on the big screen.
    You have amazing talent and should definitely express it when the mood hits you to write. Thank you so much for sharing. Simply beautiful!

  18. Meg

    This was excellent, great work!

  19. Pierce

    I commend your storytelling, I feel the authenticity in your words albeit one criticism, grammar. I have noticed it in your own personal stories and this one. May I recommend Grammarly? Just one small criticism, otherwise, Bravo.

    • kenny

      Pierce, I ran this through grammarly, before I posted it for John, there were no issues. As an English major myself, there are several writing styles and this follows suit of creative storytelling.

      • Pierce

        Check between beeps 38 and 21 two errors which even grammarly will miss. To/two. Though/thought. I honestly just want John’s Stories to be Perfect for all of his Readership. And while that might not confuse anyone, I don’t want anyone to misconstrue what he is writing about (for any reason).

  20. Jake

    Wow. I had no idea you had this kind of talent. Even made me tear up a couple times. Nicely done. Cant wait to read more.

  21. Travis M King

    Good start on your stories sir! You built the visual in my head perfectly. Thank you!

  22. Renee Deetjen

    You write beautifully John. Thank you for sharing this gift that most people probably didn’t know you possessed!

  23. Suzanne

    Wow that’s really good. You’re an awesome writer.

  24. Lynn

    What a beautiful story, John. It serves as a reminder that the one thing we can never have too much of is time with the one we love.
    Wonderfully written…

  25. Marie Wilson

    Looking forward to reading more of your stories even if you pulled me in and I cried a little. You have a talent that I never expected to see.

  26. TracyLee Zizzo

    Wow….you definitely have a gift John. Please continue!!

  27. Khalvin Cook

    We lost my mom to cancer in 2015. This is a very touching story. I did not cry when she passed, I did cry today reading your story and knowing she is no longer here for me to run to and hug when life kicks me in the teeth. Thank you for that!

  28. TKD

    This has me in the room with them. Tears were shed and lots of emotions let out for being a short story! Fantastic job.

  29. Kelby

    That was amazing!!

  30. Courtney

    This piece was beautifully written. Brought me to tears. I cannot wait for more!

  31. Jim Yorke

    Whether in a hospital room or a battlefield some of us have lived this story. Amazing story brother. So vivid. Felt every emotion as I read it.

  32. Djae

    This is beautiful. I literally felt as though I was standing there watching the story unfold.

  33. Douglas

    Omg! Hard to read the ending but that was absolutely amazing. Can not wait for the next one

  34. Heather C

    As an avid reader of all kinds of stories, I can tell you have an incredible gift for writing!! It was so vivid like being in the room with them, I felt every emotion they went through in those special final moments together. Something not everyone is granted. The beautiful raw emotions you were able to bring out with these characters has brought tears to my eyes. Its relatable & real, I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed this similar story all the years I spent working in a hospital long ago. It also really reminded me of my time with my dad spent by his bedside in hospice last year & having the “life talk” with him before his final moments, where we shared laughs & tears as well reflecting back through his life, something that was needed, heartfelt & a time I will always cherish with him, forever grateful to be with him right to the very end. I’m looking forward to your future writings, you have a real knack for it & should write more of them.

  35. Tricia

    Touching and bittersweet. Well written, John. Looking forward to more.

  36. Letty

    Amazing work! Very well written. Just another one of your talents shining through.

  37. LMO

    Great story John with a lot of visuals. I was watch the two in my mind as I read your words. Thank You, Well Done!

  38. Damon

    Could feel this. Especially being someone losing my father to cancer. Good story sir.

  39. Lori Wolford Carter

    I can’t.
    The very first paragraph had me crying. When it says, “emotion that left him weakened with each tumble he took towards the shore of SANITY.”
    It’s a beautiful short story! Thank you for sharing.

  40. Brian M

    A beautiful piece of work. Well done.

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