What lengths will you go, to keep a promise?
By Sophie Macdonald
We make these pacts, don’t we? We lean in over glasses of wine in smoky pubs, and say things like “If we’re still single in two years time, we’ll get married.” And everyone laughs, but it sits there as something that will never be unsaid. And husbands and wives carelessly throw words across the dinner table, like confetti over the plates.
“If I’m in a coma, and I’m a vegetable, then I want you to switch off the machine.” And we gasp in mock horror, and nod our agreement, whilst nudging the kids to eat the peas—never thinking for a moment that the pact has been formed, solid as the knife in our fists.
And here you are. Lying under those starch white sheets, with tubes in your arms, and the machine making a noise that—if you were awake—I know you would say reminds you of the music we used to listen to when we met. Do you remember that rave in the woods? The lights lancing between the trees in time with the beat, and that incessant beeping noise over the top. Neither of us were into it. We both leant against trees, warm wine in hands, friends dancing like they were electrified whilst we barely moved. It’s like we were on a different rhythm; our own beat.
“Promise me,” you once said, “Just switch me off, and move on. Meet someone new. Fall in love. Just not with a yoga instructor called Fabio, or I’ll be forced to haunt you.”
I had laughed. How spiky that laugh sounds now in my memory, like a shattered crystal, freezing in the air in front of my mouth.
Your room is cold. I am cold. I hold your hand, afraid that if I let a single tear escape from my eye, it will freeze on my cheek. If I hold it in, if I keep control, can I keep you too?
“Are you ready?” The doctor places her hand on my shoulder. I shrug it off.
No, I am not ready. I am not ready to lose you. I am not ready to keep a promise that I never should have made. If I could rewind time then I would tell you no. No, I will never be the one to end this. I will not send you away.
I push the switch.