Priorities – the choice between needs and wants

 5:20 am, Friday

April 29th 2011

Miami, Florida USA

I jumped off the bed just as the alarm started beeping, tying up my hair in a rough bun and sliding into my slippers with my eyes half closed walking towards the toilet as I turned off the alarm. Brushing my teeth under the shower and foaming shampoo in my hair, I got out within about 2 minutes, and was all ready for duty by 5:27 am. As I walked out of my apartment, pulling out my mobile along with the keys, I dialed a call and waited for the answer.
It rang for about 15 seconds and there you go!

Got my answer.
It’s been about 7 years now, my mornings start the exact same way. I do not take off on weekends nor do I like to participate in any other type of extracurricular tasks. I tend to stick to my comfort zone most of the time, so I mean it.
THE EXACT SAME WAY.
I got into my car and drove down from my apartment to the hospital, grabbing a nice cup of coffee from dunkin’ donuts on my way. I made a call as I waited for my cappuccino with extra caffeine. It was 5 39 am and my round’s started in exact 6 minutes from now. It was my last year of residency in pediatric cardiology in Miami. I walked out of the coffee shop to get to my car across the street, thinking about how finally I’m going to pursue my dream in just a couple of months. My dream that I gave up everything for, “it was worth it.” I thought.
And just then, a streak of pain ran through my body to my brain, piercing through my organs. It felt like a blast in my head, my hands felt weak and I just knew there was something wrong.
 Very wrong.
“Or maybe not, maybe I never knew what was worth all the efforts” I thought as I opened my eyes.  It all felt like a dream. Just then a young lady with red hair tied up in a ponytail walked up to me, “Do you need anything doctor?” she asked, “anything I can help you with?” She was tall and fragile with big round black eyes and pale skin and thin lips that wore a pink shade and a warm smile. I asked her to hand me my phone. “Would you like to talk now or you need some time?” she asked as she handed me the phone. I didn’t have to talk to her, I had been in this field for about 10 years now, 5 years learning how to diagnose and the rest telling the diagnosis. I was pretty sure what had happened, and what was going to happen. My experience was talking to me. I dialed a call as she walked away saying, “Call me when you feel the need, I’m right here” with a big smile.
About 45 minutes had passed and I had been trying to call, but I would get the same answer I got since past 7 years. But this time, it wasn’t enough!
Now when, I pressed the call button I guess the 30th time my fingers felt weak. My vision blurred and a force of thoughts rushed screaming and marching into my brain.
—————

I was at home, laughing and playing with my brother. Running around the house with my sister’s diary, and Ida running behind us, threatening us of getting us grounded by father and then suddenly she passed out on the bedroom floor. When Brian and I moved closer to see if she’s alright, she jumped up snatching the diary from Brian’s hand and running out the room, down the hall, sitting right beside father like nothing ever happened. “How does she manage to do this always?” I asked Brian, astonished. “I have no idea!” Brain replied in his sort of sarcastic tone.
“What time is your flight?” dad asked her, looking up from his Sunday paper.
“9 pm, I plan to leave home by 8 pm though, I’m done packing so it shouldn’t take much time” She replied, with all the possible details that could fit in that one sentence answer.
“NOW, how does she manage THIS?” asked Brian.
“I know, no wonder mom and dad love her!” I said.
“Many people love her, she’d too blessed” he said, sarcastically.
“Many people?” I asked confused.
“Well yea, many people.” He said, walking away.
God! My siblings are probably the craziest beings on earth, I thought to myself.
I hated the thought of her leaving. I was probably one of the many people who loved her, a lot. Much more than a lot. She is the best sister anyone could have. Why did she have to leave? I thought, every time I looked at her.
And here I stood, again. Watching her leave, but praying hard she wouldn’t.
“Stay! Stay for me!” I cried in my heart. “Stay for Brian, stay for us! STAY! For your dreams!” I looked at her as I saw her walk away with each breath, “stay for anybody! Please stay, just this time.”
I wish she could hear me. I wish I could tell her. I wish I could stop her.
I wish.
—————
It was 6:47 pm, I was staring at my cell phone, waiting for a call I wait for every day as I drove down back to the station for reporting to the commissioner about this mystery murder case I’d been working on since the past whole month. I walked in the commissioner’s office, with permission, handing over to him a file with case details and updating him on the progress of the case. After I explained him the recent clues and connections we found to this young lady’s assassination on March 20th, I seated myself on his orders to discuss the plan for the next step to be taken. Just as I was about to close the discussion about 2 hours later, my mobile rang. I hurried my hand into my pocket, but to my disappointment it wasn’t the call I was looking forward to. I excused myself to answer the call.
“You need to be here right now! It’s an emergency!” the woman explained in a hurry.
“Is everything all right?” I asked, concerned.
“You will know when you arrive! Be quick” she said, canceling the call.
I walked back into the commissioner’s office, excusing myself for an emergency visit I had to make and walked to my car, driving fast towards Miss Kate’s apartment on the 2nd Ave. wondering what might had her mother found that she felt the need to call me, urgently. As I went up the stairs of the building, to the 2nd floor, I checked my mobile again. It was 9 15 pm and I had yet not received the call I was waiting for.
—————
It felt like a long day.
A very long day.
I came back home from college and signed in the IM.
And the best part of my day started,
Neth Says:
Ah! There you go! Finally! You’re home!
Ida Says:
Seriously? Were you staring at your computer screen, waiting for me to log in?
Neth Says:
How else do you think I can make you realize that I exist doc? 😉
Ida Says:
You think you still need to do that honey?
Neth Says:
Ah! How was your day?
Ida Says:
Awesome now! 😀 love you!
Neth Says:
I need to see you! You know that right?
Ida Says:
Down in 10?
Neth Says:
Okay, then you’re all mine?
Ida Says:
Always yours love.
Neth Says:
Love you.
Could life get any better? I thought to myself. He definitely is the best thing that ever happened to me. I could talk to him all night and day! I do not need to think of any other man, since he is here. He sure is the man! I thought as I dressed up for the date.
We had been seeing each other for around 3 years now, and would just never get tired of loving and adoring the other one. He was actually the kind of love found in a place you do not expect. But he sure was the best I could get. He was tall and handsome, with nice hair and round dark eyes that sparkled every time he looked at me. His Italian look was enhanced by the Mexican complexion he possessed. He was like the practical combination of elegance and class complimented by his athletic built. I adored his existence as he walked towards me in Pablo Park. His big and charming smile, enlightened my whole world, and his eyes made me feel like the only beautiful woman on earth when he looked at me with all the love in his heart. I did would never want another man looking at me the way he does. It would kill me, if one did. My world would stop when he would start talking to me, and it sure was the best feeling I could feel.
Ever.
We were addicted to each other and our love.
—————
About 6 months had passed, Neth had decided to move to NYC with his family for a couple of years until he completed his education. This really bothered me, and for some unapparent reason he pretended it didn’t matter to him. Things changed in just a couple of months after he moved. He prioritized his new friends over me, he prioritized, anything you could possibly think of over me. It hurt me, and I wasn’t used to getting hurt. So I decided to do the same. I decided to change my priorities.
—————

Parking my car in my garage I checked my mobile again for the 10thtime I assume. It was 1:35 am and there were no calls yet. Well, it’s late now, I’ll have to wait for tomorrow I suppose, I thought getting off the car.
As I prepared to sleep, I couldn’t help looking at my phone again for one last time. What could possibly have happened? I wondered closing my eyes.
There she is! I thought. I admired those big eyes that widened with excitement each time she looked at me, with that cute smile. I thought of her every night before I slept. I loved her, a lot.
But then what went wrong? So wrong that it had been years I’d seen her. So wrong that now I had to wonder if she still looked the same. So wrong, that I hadn’t seen her, despite of living in the same city for years.
But she was still the only one who could make me smile even if it was the last thing that happened to me. The thought of her smiling, made me smile. Her existence completed me. She wasn’t there with me, but she was everywhere within me. She would probably always be the only reason, I get through the day. With all these thoughts I dozed off to sleep for a couple of hours of the remaining night.
—————

“Does this look good on me?” she asked, walking in my room with a maroon dress and black heels.
“You wish!” I replied looking back at the laptop.
“Brian! Come on! Please, tell me?” she said with her big charming and cute smile, which I assume was universally irresistible.
“Yea, unfortunately it does” I answered, in a sarcastic tone.
“You are the best brother!” she said, walking out my room.
“And you are the craziest girl I know!” I screamed behind her, “Well, the best craziest girl though” I murmured.
I admired my sister for who she was. She went through a lot, alone and would still never complain. She sure was the craziest person I knew because she loved everybody and everybody loved her! Her life was practically overloaded with love. She was determined, focused and loyal to everything she did, and everyone she knew. But come on, we all know I hate her! Because she makes me love her, do I need a better reason?
I had always made it a point to show her my excitement and tell her about my satisfaction, when she goes away from home. But there had always been times when I regretted not telling her how much I missed her and how much she meant to me. She was probably one of the very few people who were important to me. And in a time like this, I feared regretting this for a life time. Today, I really hate her. For a lot of reasons, other than the fact that she made me love her so much!
“You do this to me, and I’ll be the worst brother you could think of!” I threatened her, silently.  as I watched her go, minute by minute. “You know it hurt’s, don’t you? You know everything right? You better know this!” I thought.
—————


5:20 am, Saturday

April 30th 2011

Miami, Florida USA

 
 
 
I jumped off the bed just as the alarm started beeping. It was a Saturday, but I never took weekends off so I was on duty. I walked to the toilet with my eyes half closed. I brushed my teeth under the shower while I foamed shampoo in my hair. I was all dressed and out of my house by exact 5:27 am. Getting in my car, I looked at my mobile in surprise. It was 5:30 am and she hadn’t called yet. She didn’t call since yesterday after her 45 minutes of “call parade” as I called it. I drove down the street, until the first signal I met. It didn’t feel right. What could have possibly gone wrong? Why wouldn’t she call? She always does, I wondered. And after years, of all the very thoughtful decisions at every step of life, I decided to listen to my heart. I called up the station, and informed that I was going to take off today, where I was told to request the day off from the commissioner as this month I was reporting to him directly.
“Is everything alright inspector?” the commissioner inquired.
“Yes sir, just a slight headache.” I excused
“Don’t worry officer, your duties will be handed over to one of your colleague for a day” the commissioner assured.
 I thanked him and decided to drive back home, but then I rather drove to Pablo park. I walked down to the place Ida and I always hung out. It reminded me of every bit of love we shared. It had now been seven years, we hadn’t seen each other, or even heard. For 7 years, she called me every hour and I canceled her call. It was like, she told me, she was alright and I replied saying I’m alive too but in a way that we both didn’t have to talk. Because then we would have to clear the misunderstanding for which none of us had time for. We loved each other so much, that we knew it’ll always workout once we talk about it, we just do not have enough time to sit and talk. She’s a promising doctor and I am a hardworking inspector, we have lives to save, we cannot sit down and argue over who loves whom the most. I believe that she too believed, one day it’s all going to be alright and we’ll end up together fulfilling our dreams of a house and a little family.
If she didn’t, she wouldn’t stick around.
It was now 6:40 am and her absence was really getting to me. I finally decided to call her, so I did. But to my surprise, she didn’t answer.
I ran to my car, and drove as fast as I could to where she worked. I rushed through the hallway to the nurses’ station and asked for Dr. Ida Kenneth, where I found out she met an accident a day before outside the coffee shop at 5:40 am. I bustled into her room, where she was on life support. I didn’t know what to do, whether admire how beautiful and innocent she looked or to feel guilty for not being there for her. She called me more than a dozen times yesterday, and I didn’t think it was important enough than investigating about a dead woman’s murder which more of now was a suicide. I felt guilty, for not being able to make the most of the time we could have had together. I felt guilty, for everything I ever did to her, from moving to NYC to coming back to Miami and not informing her. I felt guilty, for treating her this way. I felt guilty, for being alive, for existing. I thought as I sat beside her, holding her hand and crying at what I had done to her.
—————
As I walked down my memory lane, cherishing every memory I shared with Nathalein, after years I felt his presence, beside me. He was crying, begging for forgiveness. Confessing and regretting everything that happened, every decision he took over me that took him farther away from me. I sat beside him, holding his hand.
“I have to go now” I whispered.
“Don’t! Don’t do this to me!” he begged.
“I cannot stay anymore, I’m sorry Neth” I said, kissing his forehead.
“I am sorry, I now know what you meant to me” he said holding my hand tighter “don’t go Ida, please don’t do this! You survived a lot worse than this that you had to face, these are just little injuries”
“I’m hurt, deep down till my soul” I said, looking away “I waited for you, every moment I could. I cannot wait anymore, it’s the wound that cannot be healed” I walked away.
“Just don’t GO!” he screamed “don’t you get it? I am sorry! I LOVE YOU IDA! Do you hear me? I love you!”
I ran back to him, and hugged him, tight. As tight as I could!
—————
“Don’t! Don’t do this to me!” I pleaded “I am sorry, I now know what you meant to me” I said, holding her hand tighter, “don’t go Ida, and please don’t do this! You survived a lot worse than this that you had to face, these are just little injuries” I cried. I looked up at her delicate features, admiring how she managed to smile in all the pain. “Just don’t GO! Don’t you get it? I am sorry! I LOVE YOU IDA! Do you hear me? I LOVE YOU!” I screamed crying harder.
—————
Just then she opened her eyes, and it felt like I was blessed with a whole new life. It was the happiest moment I could think of. I felt forgiven.
She reached my face, sliding her hand down my cheek, wiping off my tears. Everyone in the room was silent and thankful for her life. Her sister ran and hugged her while her brother just sat by her feet. She held her mother’s hand, managing to take off her oxygen mask with the other hand.
“I am sorry Ida, sorry for everything” I cried.
“I am sorry, for not being there for anyone” she said, as her voice trembled with pain and weakness.
“You were always there for us you idiot!” her brother interrupted, “now stop being dramatic!”
She smiled.
“Neth” she said, it felt special just like it felt the first time “I love you too”
“Forgive me Ida!” I begged “Please! I need you.”
“You do not mind, what loved ones do” she said, smiling and closing her eyes forever.
I stared down at her, in horror. There was nothing to be said, nothing to be heard. There was nothing that could be done. I lost a lifetime to a wrong choice of priorities. I lost the only person, who actually meant to me for all the wrong choices I made. It was the perfect punishment for what I did, the perfect payback for all my wrong priorities.

Written By: Dr. AM

Disclaimer: All the short stories published here are either fiction or semi-fiction. Any similarities to the stories, with the exception of historical figures, places and events, of persons or places, living or dead is purely co-incidental.
© All Rights Reserved
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