Chapter 14

The Last Supper

Illustration by Paloma Agüera

Amidst the traffic struggling to get back to their dormitory towns, ambulances squeeze through to save the highway and get to the emergency ramp in time. Night has been closing in on the hospital for hours, but the lights and darknesses of the small symmetrical windows from the third floor up give hints about a birth, second chances, a death. In 404, a son talks to his father about life, just as he is about to leave it.

– A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories – he says to him, like Will Bloom to his father, Edward – They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.

The dying man does not answer him, but the young man smiles as he remembers the ending of Big Fish, now that they are both playing movies and he has stolen from Tim Burton the idea of saying goodbye, the idea of finding continuity to the final scene.

– I’m going to write down everything we didn’t do together – and I wipe away his sweat that mingles with some of my tears – I’m going to tell about that time you saw me sneaking a smoke. And when you held my head over the toilet. I’ll write a story about how I dedicated a few words to you at my graduation speech – I tell him, feeling moved, trying to hold him down so he doesn’t hit himself because of his jerky movements – what clothes would you like to have worn? Hopefully they can give you the day off at work.

A nurse comes in to offer me some sheets and a pillow, looks at the morphine levels dropping into the IV, and twists her face as she closes the door and bids me farewell.

– It’s been a long time since this was a life – I say, trying to justify something that is more than justified.

I prepare the sofa for the night, as if this would make up not only for the nights we didn’t spend together, but also for the time he couldn’t teach me how to shave, or the time he didn’t explain to me how bad smoking is. Tonight counts for all the games I forbade him to come to and all the times I didn’t go to see him. That night, reader, I began to write his immortality of which you, now, are the protagonist.

It was his last night and, I hope, his best.

Daylight streams through the hospital windows. Family members peering out hint at a birth, a second chance, a death. Ambulances struggle to squeeze through the traffic, on their way to their place of work. In room 404, a new tenant celebrates finally coming up from the ICU, receiving flowers from relatives and semi-closing his eyes so as not to be hurt by the sun streaming strongly through the window.

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