Where Did the “Turning Point” Take Sophie?

Short Stories for the SoulFrom my soon-to-be-released Short Stories for the Soul:

“Turning Point”

            Sophie cringed at the smell of medicine and reached into her Louis Vuitton purse for her Eau de Cartier. She sprayed a bit on her neck and wrists then hesitated in the doorway. A curtain shielded the bed. The lights were off, and the TV loomed silently.

            She gripped her purse handles tightly with her right hand, mindful of the bandage around the scrapes on her swollen left hand. Her nail polish remained remarkably intact.

            Deep breath.

            What would she say? If he were asleep, she could just sit silently.

            She closed her eyes and composed herself, then entered.

            Rounding the curtain, she gasped at the sight of him and instinctively raised her free hand to her mouth. Just as quickly she lowered it to the mattress to steady herself. She bent forward, mouth open, breath halted. She fixed her eyes on the thin, sky blue blanket that lay flat under her hand, where his legs should have been.

            Her breath returned, and she remained standing a moment.

            The window stood open a few inches, and she stared at the rooftops and traffic below. Yes, Sophie, you have to do this. So she set her purse on the sill, safely off the probably dirty floor, then pulled out a tissue and wiped the vinyl seat of a chair facing the bed and sat down.

            His whole head was swollen and purplish, with eyes like little holes. A long dark bruise covered his forehead, and a stitched gash coursed from the right temple to the chin. A clear vinyl mask covered his nose and mouth, with a tube running to an oxygen tank. Above that a monitor showed what looked like his heartbeat, with two squiggly lines below. Out of his right arm tubes rose to vinyl bags, one clear, the other blood red. They hung on a pole with a square box that flashed numbers and beeped. His index finger was stuck in a little holder with a wire going to what resembled a smartphone lying next to him. His left arm was missing, the sleeve limp from half way down his upper arm.

            Sophie folded her hands in her lap. And kept looking.

            Nothing she had ever learned at home or university, nothing she had done in two years at the advertising agency, prepared her for this. This did not fit. Anywhere. . . .