The last word of your piece must be "good-bye"
The silver doors were stained with fingerprints. Ding! The doors slid open to release a stream of people. Wave after wave, the people spilled out into the hallway. Lisa stepped inside the elevator. She was followed by a similar stream of people as the one that had just exited the tiny space. She leaned against the wall and waited for the "5" to light up. She took a deep breath. She had taken this ride several times a day for the past week. It was almost second nature now. It was all she could remember. This hospital. This lift. These hallways. Ding! The doors parted and she manouvred her way over the threshold. The doors closed. Lisa hesitated for just a moment. Despite the repetition in her recent past, she always felt lost when she stepped out of the elevator. She turned left and headed for the ICU.
At the end of the hallway was a locked door. A speaker box protruded from the adjacent wall. She pressed the button and waited. "Bed number and patient name please?" crackled the disembodied voice.
"Bed 8. Davidson."
Lisa leaned back and waited for the voice to let her in.
BUZZ! "Come in"
Lisa leaned forward and pushed the heavy door with all her might. She navigated her way through the twists and turns of the ICU and came to her Grandfather's room. The nurse was sitting at the desk scribbling on a chart. The monitors looked steady. "Good Morning," Lisa said cheerfully to the nurse, who looked up with a smile. "Hello Lisa," he replied.
"How did he go last night?" she asked, trying to hide her concern.
"No problems, you can go on in, but keep it down" he replied with a wink.
Lisa smiled as she leaned on the swinging door. "Hiya, Pops," she called to her grandfather as she turned to the sink to wash up and get a gown on. "I'm on my own this morning, Gran needed a rest, but she will be in after lunch. How are you feeling this morning?" The words came out in a rush and Pops just looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "Okay, stupid question," Lisa muttered as she pulled up a chair.
"What's that?" asked Pops, pointing to the newspaper in her hand.
"Oh, I brought you the paper," Lisa replied. "Would you like me to read a bit to you?" she asked.
"Hhhmm, what's on the front page?" he asked.
Lisa held it up for him to see. "It's not too cheery is it?" she commented.
"Read the obituaries, then."
"I already did, you're not in there."
"Hhmph," he smirked.
Lisa began to read out the names slowly. After each one, Pops said, "don't know him."
"Anything else you would like me to read for you Pops?" Lisa asked, "What about the funnies?"
"No, that's enough of that," his voice was deep and strong.
The nurse entered the room and nodded in Lisa's direction. "I just need to check a few things, it might be good if you slip out for a bit."
"I'll be back soon, Pops," replied Lisa with a squeeze of his hand before she turned back to the sink.
The day continued much the same as it began. The nurses changed shifts at 12 noon and Lisa met the new nurse before she went downstairs to meet the rest of the family. After lunch in the cafeteria they all traipsed up to the ICU waiting room. Only two vistors at a time were allowed to see each patient. So the family paired up and waited for their turn. Gran and Lisa's mum went first.
"Are you all packed?" Lisa's uncle, Jim, asked quietly. Lisa nodded. "We will miss you around here, you know," he said.
"Oh, I know," she grinned at him. "He is doing okay now. He told me yesterday that I should go home. I do need to get back to work," she frowned.
"Don't worry about it," Jim reassured her.
"All you have to do is call, and I will come back, okay?"
"Okay." Jim nodded.
Lisa's mum, Miranda, rattled down the hallway. "Okay, Lisa, you better see him now. You will have to leave soon."
Lisa pulled herself out of the chair and retraced her steps from the morning. She greeted the nurse with a smile and stood outside the room watching Pops and Gran for a few minutes. They were so in love. It was hard for them to be away from each other. Pops was holding Gran's hand as she sat in a wheelchair that was pulled close to the bed. They were chatting. It was probably about nothing in particular, but Lisa waited just the same.
Pops noticed her then, and waved her in. She pushed the door and scrubbed up. "I'm ba-ack," Lisa sang as she approached the bed. "You're going home tonight," Pops said matter-of-factly.
"Yeah," she replied, "they told me you need a bit of peace and quiet, so I figured that meant I should go away."
"You do natter on a bit." Pops smirked.
"I didn't see anyone else reading you the paper," roused Gran.
"It's okay, Gran. If he can tease me, he must be better," Lisa smiled as he took her hand and squeezed it. "Now, if anything happens, or you need me for anything, or you miss me, all you have to do is call. I can hop a plane faster than you can say Jack Robinson." Lisa patted Pops' arm. All three of them sat quietly for a long time. But it still didn't seem long enough.
"Righto," Pops broke the silence, "you better get going or you will miss your plane."
"I suppose so," Lisa rose from her chair. "Bye Gran. Bye Pops," Lisa hugged and kissed them both. She stripped off her gown and washed her hands again.
"Good Bye," Pops muttered
"I love you guys," Lisa called as she left the room.
Gran and Pops looked at each other and smiled. Lisa hurried out to the waiting room and sighed. Somehow she knew. That was the last time he would tell her good-bye.