Just A Slice Of Time || 𝑏𝑦 πΆβ„Žπ‘’π‘˜π‘€π‘’π‘’π‘π‘’π‘˜π‘Ž 𝐴𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑧𝑒

FS Review


The torturing pain, the unending cough, the episode of nosebleeds. Everything the doctor has said would happen if she ever exposed herself to stress.

Dorathy rolls over to her side, stretching forth her hand. Mike, her husband, is there, as always. He takes her hand into his, cupping it against his face. For a while, their eyes are locked, like a plug in its socket. He pats her hand, then slowly, till it rests on the mattress. The smile on her face warped in a grimace, and she flinches as pain slices her guts and tears at her groin. Must be the lymph nodes again. These days the pains are flesh hacks and she can't conceal them anymore. She glances at Mike, lips compressed. He doesn't deserve to see her wallow in pain. 

"Why are you doing this?" He asks in a pretty familiar tone. This voice is one he reserves for urgent or tense moments. "Why do you like hurting yourself? Hurting me? … Hurting us?" 

She shakes her head, knowing that what he is asking of her isn't easy. If she could manage it, she could have just ignored those teens whom she caught in a street fracas days ago when she visited the grocery store. But that could have been a fight to the death, who knows. For the moment she had seen them—the taller boy cudgelling the other and reaching for another strike—she had hurried. It was one of the things she disliked, violence. She had cried, flung her grocery bag, and paced down towards them in full strides. Oblivious of the doctor's warnings.

And now she remembers it all: how she had collapsed in a paralytic fit, limbs refusing strength, gasps replacing her usually steady breathings, her hand palming her bosom as she tried to catch whatever. 

"But why? Why are you doing this?" Mike's voice filters into her ears again. 

But she smiles. "I was only trying to help." 

"At what cost?!" Realizing he just shouted at her, he droops his head. "I'm sorry. But is it so difficult to do away with stress?" 

"I'm sorry too, Mike," she mutters, a tear dropping down her cheek. 

He inches closer and sits beside her, stroking her hair. "Doctor said you should always try to stay happy." 

She nods. "He has told me already." 

"So, what's that thing that can make you happy? I'm more than ready to give you." 

She smiles and locks gazes with him again. She always knows when he is joking, just with the look in his eyes. But now, he doesn't seem to be. The merry crinkles of his eyes have faded like the paintings on the walls around them. 

"Oh no, Mike," she replies. "You should know more than this. Have you not given me everything? Have you not given me all of you?" She droops her head and grabs his hand. Kisses it. Clasps it to her bosom. "What more can I ever ask from you?"

"I'm glad to hear that," Mike says, standing to leave. He leaves then returns moments later with a bouquet. 

"I brought you this." He hands her the bouquet, and leans forward, planting a kiss on her forehead. The vanilla fragrance fills Dorathy's lungs as she sniffs it, over and again. This is a fragrance she likes. 

However, this same fragrance is what Cynthia also loves. How great would she feel when she gets a bouquet like this. Cynthia, her younger sister, had called in earlier, requesting to spend the Easter holiday at her house. But she has been bothered about how she'd relay the news to Mike. 

Ijeoma, Mike's younger sister, would also be spending the holiday with them. Things have never worked out between both sisters. Just like a mixture of water and oil. There can be no better source of a commotion than having those two under the same roof. 

"Darling?" she calls and trails off. She can feel her heart pounding against her chest. But if Mike does want to make her happy, this request should pass.

"Yes? Is there anything you want?" 

She nodded. "Cynthia wants to spend the holiday with us." 

Against her expectation, Mike neither moves nor utters a word. He doesn't cringe at the news. His eyes don't bulge, and he doesn't ball his fist. He only stands there, dumbfounded, brows twitching hard.

"Do you want to kill yourself?" He finally explodes. "This will not work, Dorathy! It won't."

She smiles. Now he's talking. "Mike, this is the only gift I need now. At least, let me enjoy this little slice of time I have left with them." Her voice quivers now, and she flits her gaze against the aqua-coloured walls. "The doctor has confirmed that I'm nearing the end stage of Acute Leukaemia."

Mike palms his dribbling tears and stifles a sob.


Mike's hands are now tied. Ijeoma and Cynthia are quarrelling at every opportunity, and he doesn't know what to do. "You now see what you've brought upon yourself?" 

"But I'm not complaining," she replies, being her smiling self.

Mike places a tray by her side. She reaches for her pills, and gobbles it as though a life tablet, her breathing ragged and chapped. She grabs her chest. Drops the cup. Picks it again. And takes another sip. And another. Thinking she is choking, Mike crouches and pats her back. Her chest burns, and phlegm clogs her throat. She tightens her jaw and fastens a firm grip on Mike's shoulder.

Both Ijeoma and Cynthia burst into the room as soon Mike shouts for help. Hanging in the room is a strong coppery smell. 

"What's that smell?" Ijeoma asks. 

"Yea, what's that smell?" Cynthia adds. 

"Oh my!" says Ijeoma, gawking at the blood oozing from Dorathy's nose. She is slouched over the bed frame, her head across the tiled floor. The blood has pooled on the floor, around Mike's feet. 


Now, in the sitting room, Ijeoma sits smoothing Dorathy's leg, while Cynthia sits behind arranging the fat braids on her head. The ladies are chatting,  joking, and losing themselves in fits of laughter. Dorathy fixes a long gaze at them. The mood hanging here is just what she wants. But she knows. It's just for a while. A little while.


CHUKWUEBUKA HARRISON ANINZE is a Medical Laboratory Scientist who likes to think himself a writing freak. He writes from Enugu, Nigeria. He has written a whole lot of well meaning short stories and flash fictions. He is the first winner of the Writer's Academy fiction contest. Romance and Thriller are the two genres he readily finds home with. He counts it an honor helping young writers carve a niche for themselves.

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