Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)

Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)
By Sarah
Short Story

    "Ready, baby?  Here we go!  Who-hoo!  Look at that, he can fly!  Wow, what a pilot he is, he flies in the air with the breeze blowing behind him and the world beneath him!  Whoosh!"  The woman smiled as the child giggled, holding his arms out like airplane wings.  The woman tilted him down as she 'flew' him closer to the couch.  "Uh-oh, crash landing!"  She exclaimed, placing him on the couch.  The child laughed as the woman tickled his stomach and sides, the love apparent in each other's eyes.
    She awoke with a start, looking up at the sympathetic woman who had touched her arm.  She wiped her face clean of tears and ran away from the nurse, trying to escape the pain.

    "I'll be back in a little while, ok, I'm just going to get some coffee," he said as he walked out of the room.  He sighed, running his hands through his dark hair.  At twenty-two-years-old, he'd been through so much, and his mother chose now to get sick?
    'She'll be ok, you know she's strong,' he told himself as he walked down the halls of the hospital.  He turned the corner towards the vending machines and walked quietly, marveling at the quiet that surrounded him that late at night.  He was used to the noise, the screaming, the crying, but there was
none around him.  Silence.
    'I could get used to this,' he said to himself as he rounded another corner.  He was almost to the vending machine for the horrible coffee when he heard something.  A sniffle.
    It wasn't all that hard to hear, considering the lack of sound around him, but it caught his attention, peaking his curiosity and making him try to find the source.  He finally found it, someone curled up in the corner next to a chair, long brown hair surrounding the body as they leaned over, hugging their knees to their chest.
    "Are you ok?"  He whispered, squatting down in front of her and reaching out to touch her head.  She looked up slowly, wiping away tears quickly as she did.
    "Yes, I'm fine," she replied quickly, hoarsely.  He summed up that she couldn't be much older than him, maybe even younger.
    "My name's Alex," he said, holding his hand out to her.
    "Suzanna," she replied, not taking his hand.
    'Suzanna,' he repeated in his head.  "A beautiful name for a beautiful lady," he said to her, smiling.
    The woman just sniffled again, not smiling.  He felt his face fall and he got very worried.
    "Would you like to join me to get some coffee?"  He asked quietly, holding out his hand again.
    Suzanna nodded and stood up without his offered hand.  She waited for him to stand next to her, holding a crumpled tissue to her face.
    "How come you're here?"  Alex asked as they walked together to the end of the hall.  Suzanna shook her head and Alex didn't press her.  "Ok, you don't have to talk about it," he said gently.  He fed the machine quarters and waited for his coffee.  He offered Suzanna coffee, but she shook her head again.
    "Join me?"  He asked, turning around to back where they'd come.
    Suzanna simply turned and walked slowly.  Alex slowed his normally wide and quick stride to match hers, sipping the horrible coffee slowly.  He looked at her out of the corner of his eye, seeing tears fall slowly from her bright green eyes.
    "I'm here because my mother is sick, she has pneumonia, I think," Alex said, trying to get her to talk.
    "I'm sorry," she finally whispered as they reached the waiting area.  Alex sat down and gestured for her to sit next to him.
    "Its ok, she's strong, she'll be up and about before any of us know it," he said, finding a smile to be shown.  It faded, though, when he saw how she wasn't even pretending to be happy.
    "If I may, what's wrong?"  He asked, reaching up and wiping away a tear as it fell down her cheek.  Suzanna pulled her legs back up to her chest and leaned against the wall.
    "Its Pauly... he has pneumonia too," she whispered, biting her thumbnail and sniffling again.
    Alex felt his heart go out to her.  "I'm sorry is Pauly your little brother?"  He asked.
    Suzanna shook her head violently as tears started to flow again.  She got up and ran away from him, disappearing around a corner.  Alex sighed and threw away the rest of his coffee, barely having half the cup.  He went back into his mother's room and found her asleep, finally.  He smiled and kissed her forehead before heading back out of the room.  He walked down the corridor and took random turns.  He finally found himself in front of double doors that had a panel over them, reading 'Maternity Ward'.  Alex smiled and pushed open the doors, walking quietly to the open window nursery.  He smiled at the sleeping children in the small cribs through the window, he could practically picture his own son or daughter one day being in there.  He walked on, finding that the pediatrics ward was connected to Maternity.
    'Makes sense, Alex,' he told himself as he walked quietly, waving hi to the night nurse.  She smiled, recognizing him immediately, and walked over to him.
    "What brings you down here, Alex?"  She asked, smiling brightly.
    "Aw, not much, just waiting for Mom to get better.  I thought that while she slept, I'd look around, see what exactly fascinates her so much everyday," he said.
    The woman chuckled.  "Well, Alex, your mother loves to help people.  In fact, one of her special cases got sick the same time she did.  A little boy, she said that he reminded her of you when you were little, but he had a defect in his heart, like your friend did.  Its sad, his mother hasn't left here for more than a week, we keep trying to tell Ms. Cox to go home, but she refuses."
    Alex sighed.  "Which room is he in?  Is it ok if I see him, Judy?"
    Judy bit her lip.  "I don't know, Alex, hospital rules are...." She trailed off as Alex gave her a familiar look, one he always used to get his way.  "Fine, room two-ten.  Don't wake him up, please, I don't know how much time he has left, and his mother might be in there with him, so be quiet."  The nurse turned back to her station and went back to her paper work as Alex started down the hall.  He found the room and walked to the slightly open door, hearing someone singing quietly.

Goodnight my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away

Goodnight, my angel
Now its time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an Emerald Bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark
And deep inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me

    Alex pushed open the door slowly and walked to the bed, where a woman was sitting with a child in her lap, rocking him back and forth.  He couldn't help but want to cry, he knew there was something wrong, and for once, he couldn't do anything about it.
    "Get out," the woman said to him without looking up.
    "I said leave.  Please, I just want to be alone with my son," she
whispered, her long dark hair covering her face as she talked.  She looked up and Alex's eyes widened.
    Suzanna nodded and tears flowed down her face at a fast pace.  "He's dying, Alex, and I can't do anything.  Mommy can't do anything to make Pauly's pain stop, I can't do anything to make him feel better," she said through her tears.
    Alex shushed her as he hurried over to the side of the bed and sat next to her.  "Its ok, its going to be ok," he whispered, hugging her and the toddler.  He looked down at the little boy.  "He's a beautiful little boy," he whispered, looking at the sleeping child.  He was breathing deeply, the tubes coming out of the mask over his mouth and nose making it possible.  Alex couldn't help but smile and looked up at Suzanna.  "He's so little, I bet he looks just like his father."
    Suzanna nodded.  "He's little for a two year old, its because of the defect he has, his heart has stopped on numerous occasions and for some reason, he can't grow nearly as fast as other children," she explained
quickly.  She wiped her eyes before resting her hands on the little boy's face, brushing away his soft, dirty blonde hair.  "Just two weeks ago we were playing outside when he just stopped running around.  He came to me and said that he felt tired and I took him inside for a nap.  When I checked on him a few minutes later, he'd stopped breathing and he was burning up.  I brought him here and they said that his heart was giving out, and that he had a touch of pneumonia.  They said he would be fine, but here we are, nearly at the end of the line," she said, the tears falling faster as she spoke.  She made no move to wipe them away, so Alex did so for her.
    "Do you want to finish the song?"  He whispered after nearly twenty minutes of silence.  With every struggling breath, he saw Suzanna sob, until finally she was holding Pauly close, shaking her head.
    Suzanna nodded and let Pauly rest in her lap.  Alex got more comfortable next to her and put his arm around her shoulder.

Goodnight, my angel
Now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry
And if you sing this lullabye
Then in your heart
There will always be a part of me

Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabyes go on and on
They never die
That's how you and I will be

    Alex jumped as a piercing sound came from the machine on the other side of the bed, but Suzanna calmly reached over and turned it off.  She tearfully kissed Pauly's forehead before getting off the bed and lying him down, covering him with a sheet.
    "Goodbye, Pauly," she whispered.  She collapsed backwards and Alex caught her, holding her with him as she cried, trying in vain to comfort her in the loss of her son.
    "Ms. Cox?  Oh, my," Judy said as she came in.  She kneeled down next to Alex and helped Suzanna stand, taking her out of the room as a doctor came in.  Alex followed them out, sitting next to Suzanna in a chair in the hallway, holding her as she cried.  He held back his own tears as someone rested their hand on his shoulder.
    "He's gone, AJ?"  His mother asked as he looked at her, astonished.
    "Yes, what are you doing out here?"  He asked quietly.
    "I'm fine, honey, its Suzanna we should be worried about," she replied, ruffling his died blonde locks.  Alex nodded and looked back down at Suzanna, holding her trembling body.  He rocked back and forth with her, remembering the song they'd just sang together.
    "Goodnight, my angel, now its time to sleep, and still so many things I want to say.  Remember all the songs you sang for me, when we went sailing on an Emerald Bay.  And like a boat out on the ocean, I'm rocking you to sleep.  The water's dark, and deep inside this ancient heart you'll always be a part of me," he sang in her ear.  He felt her sobbing stop, her tears stop flowing, as she held onto him for dear life.  He kissed her forehead and rested his chin on her head.
    "What are we going to tell Brian?"  He whispered.

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