Short Story / Essay
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Cole graduated with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Alabama in 2019. His research focuses on African-American literature and the spaces within which marginalized communities forge a creative response to the scarcity, political exclusion, and external invasion forced on them by racialized systems. Cole lives with his partner in Alabaster, Alabama.
I’m on a cot in my mother’s hospital room, unable to sleep. It’s 1:00 a.m. and Mom is snoring loudly, oddly, as though each breath groans. I watch her in the dim light, lying on her side, struggling to breathe. She heaves with each breath. It’s unearthly and chilling. I want to breathe for her. Is she truly dying? Is the bastard ripping life from her? I know now that breast cancer is killing her and mocking me. I dare not confess the truth out loud or give voice to something that would crush her hope. Here in the hospital, she occasionally wakes up and talks with us. But Dad hates hospitals and the lack of control. He is already pressing to have her released to Hospice, home to bed. There, he can tend the dogs, the house, the yard, and Mom. He can monitor her medicine, regulate her bowel movements, and control her blood sugar without pesky nurses. He can be her knight in shining armor. He can be her healing and her king. I know then that the men in Mom’s life are utterly failing her.