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Cheng- a Short Story About Loss of a Spouse

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Loss even when predicted hurts. When it's unpredicted, the pain is unbearable. Waking up to someone, only to go to bed without them.

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Lillian was in the kitchen preparing a meal for Cheng to take to work. The school bus had already picked up the kids for school and Cheng was in the bathroom now. He would be out any moment now, she thought as she decided to add snacks to his meal pack. When she began adding the snacks Cheng walked in and the baby started to kick. Lillian stopped and put a hand on her belly. She was eight months in. Unfortunately for her, her son made a habit of kicking whenever her husband was in range.

Cheng looked at her when she placed her hand on her belly and laughed. “He is so going to love me more” he says, earning a swift slap on the shoulder from Lillian. He laughed again, then put his arms around her waist and pecked her cheek. Lillian loved it when he held her like that but of course now, his hand couldn’t go all the way around her waist because of her distended tummy. “The bus has picked up Mirella and Morris, right?” he asked “Yeah. About 10 minutes ago.” She replied. She had two kids, a 9-year-old boy, Morris and a 7-year-old girl, Mirella.

“What are your plans for today?” he asked as he nuzzled her neck. “I don’t know actually. My feet are killing me but I need to go to the supermarket and also pick up laundry before the kids get home.” She responded. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll pick up the laundry. I would offer to do the grocery shopping but you always hate the vegetables I get” He said chuckling as she rolls her eyes. “That’s because you never pick up fresh ones but still, thanks for cutting my work in half” she said kissing him.

“For that kind of gratitude, I would gladly work” he says, wriggling his eyebrows and earning a chuckle from Lillian. He led her to the couch and made her sit down, then lifted her feet to his lap. “What are you doing?” she asked looking at him in confusing before he started massaging her feet. “You said your feet were killing you. We don’t want you tired now, do we?” he asked but she didn’t answer. Instead he heard a little moan, which made him chuckle.

“Now, that… that will definitely earn you more kisses” she said with a smile on her face. He smiled back and continued massaging her feet, then his phone rang. He checked caller id and saw that it was his best friend calling. He stood up, pecked Lillian’s cheek and answered the phone while moving away. “Dave, what’s up?” he asked. “It’s Cynthia not Dave. He was in an accident. He is conscious now but he is pretty banged up” Dave’s girlfriend told Cheng. “I’ll stop by in the afternoon.” “Alright, I’ll be expecting you” Cynthia said. “Ok, see you soon.”

“What’s wrong?” Lillian asked “Dave was involved in an accident. He’s stable but pretty banged up.” Cheng replied “Oh no. That’s terrible but he’ll be fine, right?” She asked “Of course honey.” He replied giving her a forehead kiss. “We should go see him. I’ll postpone the grocery shopping, we still have some things after all” Lillian told Cheng. “No. That’s not necessary. You know I don’t like you stressed. I’ll just tell Cynthia and Dave that you send your well wishes. Besides, who will stay with the kids?” Cheng objected.

“But…” Lillian started to argue. “Babe, please. For my sake, don’t argue. Just rest at home. You are almost due and the doctor said no strenuous activities.” Cheng told her, taking her hand. She wanted to argue and tell him that it wouldn’t be strenuous but the worried look on his face made her hold her tongue. “Sure love.” She said with a small smile. “Thank you. Don’t worry, I’ll still pick up the laundry on my way back. Then when I get back we can binge watch Game of Thrones” he said as he kissed her palm, then helped her up.

She waddled to the kitchen counter to get his lunch cooler. When she picked it up, he came out of the room, ready and picked up his briefcase and keys from counter. “Bye honey. Have a great day at work.” She said to him. “Thanks love. I’ll be back by seven” Cheng replied before he collected his cooler and gave her a kiss. Lillian stood waving to him as he walked out of the house, not knowing that it was the last time she was ever going to see him.

The children came back a few minutes after she came back from grocery shopping. She got some unhealthy snacks for Cheng and fruits for herself- for when they binge watch GOT. Then she proceeded to make dinner. By seven, Cheng wasn’t back yet. She tried his number a couple times and only got voice mail. So, she ate dinner with the kids and put Cheng’s dinner into the microwave.

After tucking the kids into bed, she tried his number again and got the voicemail. Then she tried calling Cynthia. Cynthia picked up on the fourth ring. “Hey dear. It’s Lillian.” She said “Oh, hi. Cheng came by about two hours ago. He said you couldn’t make it cause of the little guy.” Cynthia said “Yeah. Sorry about that. How is Dave? Is he feeling any better?” She asked. “He’s as fine as can be. He has a couple of broken bones but the doctor says he’ll be fine. Is Cheng home yet?” Cynthia asked “That’s actually why I called. He isn’t home yet. So, I thought maybe he was still with you guys.”

“No, he left already. Maybe there is traffic or he stopped to get something. Have you tried calling him?” Cynthia asked causing Lillian to slightly roll her eyes. She knew that Cynthia was trying to help but wouldn’t she have tried his number before calling her. “Yeah. I did. It went to voicemail. You are probably right though. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that- he had to pick up the dry cleaning, probably got stuck in traffic.” She told Cynthia. They spoke for a couple minutes more and promised to meet up after Dave was better before Lillian hung up.

By ten o clock, Lillian had gone from worried to terrified. She was sure that he would have called her by now. Even if his phone was dead, he would have found a way to let her know that he would be late. He was never this late. She had called his office and they told her that he had left by five in the afternoon. She was about to try his number again when he started calling her. She picked up the call on the first ring. “Oh, thank God! I was so worried. Babe, why didn’t you call me sooner. You almost gave me a heart attack!” She said all in one breath immediately she picked up. “Hello, Is this Mrs Fei?” A random man’s voice asked “Yes, it is but who is this? Why do you have my husband’s phone?” Lillian replied in confusion.

“Mrs Fei, my name is Matthew. I work at St. Luther’s Memorial hospital. I am calling because Mr. Fei has been involved in an accident. A hit and run. I’m sorry we did all we could but we lost him. We need you to come and identify his body.” The man on the phone told her. It took about three seconds for what the lady said to sink into her mind. When it did, her heart dropped. It couldn’t be. He was not dead. He was on his way home for them to watch GOT. Admittedly, he was a bit late but he would soon be here. He had to come back home. “Hello? Mrs Fei?” she heard the man on the phone calling but she cut the call.

Identify the body, the man had said. What body?! He was not dead. He was simply late and when he got back home, she was going to kill him herself for being this late and making her worry. In fact, she was going to go to the hospital to see the body of whoever it was that was dead, just to tell that man that it was not her husband. She checked and made sure that the kids were asleep, then she begged her next-door neighbor to check in on them every hour before she headed to the hospital.

Halfway there, she began to have doubts. What if it was him? But it could not be. When the traffic light turned red, she had a flashback to the day she told him that she was pregnant. They had been out on a date and had just gotten ice cream. Mint chocolate chip for him and Strawberry Surprise for her.

He had teased her about her choice of ice-cream because according to him the surprise wasn’t really a surprise since they both knew it was caramel. While he was laughing at her she had blurted out that she was pregnant. The way his face had looked at that moment would forever be engrained in her memory. He had been shocked then his shock had changed to excitement.

He had lifted her up right there, in the middle of the park next to the ice-cream truck and twirled her around while shouting “I am going to be a dad!” Oh God! She taught as a sob escaped her. How could he be dead? How could she accept the fact that she would never see him again? Never hear his voice. Never see his smile. Never feel his arms around her waist.

She felt tears running down her face but she wiped it. She couldn’t believe that he was gone. Wouldn’t believe it. Believing it would mean that it was real. She closed her eyes and whispered a prayer, “Dear Lord, please don’t let him be the one. Don’t let it be real. I would do anything if it isn’t him. I’ll go to church more often and read my bible daily. Please."

When she arrived at the hospital, the man she spoke with led her to the morgue. Her heart was beating twice as fast in her chest as the coroner lifted the white sheet off the body. A sob left her when she saw his face. It was him. Her Cheng. He was gone. Forever. Sobs racked her body as she fell on his body weeping. He looked so peaceful, the way he always looked when he was sleeping. It was as if he could wake up any moment now.

“Is he your husband, ma’am?” The coroner asked but she ignored him and held Cheng hand. “Baby, I’m here. It’s time to wake up. Wake up, we have a series to binge watch. They kids can’t wait to see you.” She said in between her sobs. The baby chose that moment to start kicking. She led Cheng’s hand to her belly. “We need you. I need you. You can’t leave me. You can’t. I won’t let you.” she said clutching his hand and refusing to let go.

She should have been in that car with him. She should have argued when he wanted to go alone, she thought. If he was going to die, she should die with him because letting her live without him was the same thing as death. Two doctors had to pry her off his body and lead her to the corridor. He was really gone, she thought as they led her out of the room. That was her last thought before the room spun and everything went dark.

© 2020 Yvonne