Mourning Dove

by Rob Tyler

“Do you hear the mourning dove?” my sister asks, eyes closed, tugging at her hospital gown.

“It’s pretty, isn’t it?” I say.

“God, it’s been singing for days make it stop.”

The incessant cooing is coming from the telemetry monitor at the nurse’s station outside the door. I’ve told my sister a dozen times, but she has too much ammonia in her brain to remember.

“It’s way up in a tree sis, I can’t stop it.” “What tree?” my son asks.

“Timmy, go get some ice water for your aunt.”

“Sure!” he says, and dashes down the hall. He loves working that machine. “I can’t stand the noise,” she says, her hands roving restlessly across her body like independent creatures. One finds the other and pulls the oxygen sensor from her finger. The device next to the bed starts beeping.

“We need to put that back on, sis, to make the beeping stop.”

“Ok.” She lets me put it back on and immediately pulls it off again. Timmy returns with a cup of water. I steady it in my sister’s hand and guide the straw to her mouth. She turns away.

The beeping stops and I look across the bed. Timmy has put the sensor on his own finger and is watching the monitor with fascination. He takes a huge breath and holds it, his cheeks puffed out, as we wait for the numbers to fall.