It’s comfortable on this bench in between. I know I can’t stay here for long, but I can stay as long as I need.

To my right it’s all bright light and noise. I hear sounds of machinery: Urgent bleeps, intrusive whines and a voice desperately repeating my name. I feel expert hands move me. I smell the sharp tang of disinfectant. It all seems far away somehow, irrelevant, it will always be raucous and busy in that place – it will never stop.

To my left the road is quiet and misty, stretching between autumn trees: ever less distinct as it leads the eye to endlessness. All is perfectly calm. A single burnt orange maple leaf drops, floats and then settles lightly on the ground in total silence. Down this road is sublime stillness forever – it will never change.

It’s comfortable on this bench in between but I don’t stay here for long. I stand and walk without a backward glance.

5 thoughts on “Between”

  1. I thought this was fantastic! I love the way you caught the moment in time between life and death (or life and recovery?, but it felt for me as if the death path was followed at the end, perhaps because it seemed so peaceful and attractive :-)) Anyway, the title was perfect.

    I don’t have any criticisms, except the almost-petty one that I think urgent bleeps should have no capital letter after the colon.

    I also love the way you clearly describe the situation to the right and left without any real emotional connection. I especially like the description of what each sense is experiencing in the “To my right” paragraph.


  2. I echo cbraz: this is excellent and really well captured. Extremely sensory descriptions, the hum of the er room, the serenity of the path – it’s engrossing and real and very immersive. Lovely. I enjoyed the way the choice naturally emerged from the description – someone less ready to pass on would have seen the emergency room as life affirming, caring, and the path as bleak. Given the character’s perspective, it’s inevitable that they move on into death. They welcome it. Great story.

    Oh, and: this is a story about someone on the verge of death in an emergency room, who visualizes their situation as a bench between life (the er room) and death (a still path). Lovely.

  3. This is a story about a homeless person sitting on a bench at the edge of a park. On one side of them is the busy main road, on the other a path into the floodlit main area of the park.

    On repeat readings I had a different interpretation, however: someone is in an emergency room, in critical condition. The person pictures their situation as sitting on a bench, with paths leading to loud life and still, quite, death.

    Very well crafted, especially in such a short space.
    Micro microfiction is the new microfiction? :)
    The second paragraph is really great, working the senses.

    I wasn’t quite happy with the flow of
    > It all seems far away somehow, irrelevant, it will always be raucous and busy in that place – it will never stop.
    and maybe would have preferred it chopped up, a la
    > It all seems far away somehow, irrelevant. It will always be raucous and busy in that place: it will never stop.

    I took the ending as open to either direction (which I like a lot), although repeat readings do render the death path as more appealing (to me and the narrator, I think).

  4. This is beautifully atmospheric and captured in a tiny space with great skill, but what’s with you and metaphors for death? :>. It’s worse than me jumping off high things… That said, I’m with Parfles in liking the organic inevitability of the decision, the way it’s encapsulated in and predicted by the terms in which the two options are described. The contrast between clinical, busy life and calm, natural death is marked and lovely.

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