“Come here so I can lay my head on your shoulder.” Propped up in bed by a mountain of pillows, he rests his blue-lined, much-scared hand down on the comforter beside him. The other hand lies across his stomach, IV’s and plastic sprouting from it and running down the side of the bed.
His wife turns from the doorway still holding the taupe colored tray carrying the remains of most of his lunch. Her lips curl into a witty retort, but when she sees the light in his eyes, she stops.
“For a minute, I guess,” she says and sets the tray on top of the bureau by the door.
She climbs into bed beside him with a small grunt of effort and props herself against the headboard.
“You work too hard,” says her husband as he lays his paper-skinned face against her shoulder.
“Don’t be crazy. This isn’t work!”
In the silence, they listen to the beep of the machines surrounding the bed.
“You know,” he says, “I used to do this for you all the time.”
“Let you rest your head on my shoulder.”
She smiles up at the ceiling. She used to call it her favorite place.
“Well–” she says– “it’s my turn now.”
©️ 2021 Katie Baker