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Friday, June 3, 2011

From "The Mine" by Maryann Guberman

The Mine
It’s called death and it happens every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

With one smooth movement he slid the plastic tubes from his father’s nostrils. Clamping one hand over the thin face, he used the other one to push up on the man’s chin. He could feel the dry, wrinkled skin of his father’s face like cold, cracked putty against his own smooth fingertips.

The old man put up no resistance. He had no strength. He did not move his head, didn’t try to pull away. His eyes closed once, then opened. He looked up at the man who was suffocating him. His eyes watered, not with tears, but a brief sting of burning panic.

This was the second of the minute of the day. Death was coming in the door.

Something thumped inside the old man’s chest. Emerson thought he felt a breeze, a final breath, perhaps, waft past him. The eyes closed.

Emerson slipped the tubes back into position, rearranged the sheet and blanket, then sat down, waiting for the nurse to appear in response to his call.

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