Blood Orchid

The orchid sat in the window by the hospital bed surrounded by get-well cards.The stem extended out like a dancer’s arm, the delicate violet blooms spiraling around to the buds at the top. The steady beep  of the heart monitor lulled the woman to sleep in the chair beside the bed. Her head rolled to the side and her father’s hand slipped from hers.

A nurse crept in and drew a vile of blood from the father’s arm. She handed the woman the flower and squirted the blood on the roots.  “Your father will live as long as this orchid lives. Just follow the instructions.” 

The young woman woke with a start, clutching the orchid to her chest. Her father sat upright in the bed and asked about breakfast. 

“Daddy? You’re awake?” 

“I feel a bit stronger today. And in less pain. Doctors do something different?”

“Daddy, this is hospice. The doctors aren’t doing anything except making you comfortable.”

“Well, I want to go home. I feel fine. If I am still dying, I’m strong enough to go home. I don’t want to die here. I want to die at home.”

“I’ll make the arrangements!”

Just follow the instructions. What instructions? Where’s the tag? What am I supposed to do? I know that was a dream, but what if it was a vision? I’m losing my mind, but WHAT IF?

“Alright, Daddy! Welcome home! What else do you need?”

“What’s that dumb flower?”

“An orchid. A gift from a friend.”

“Toss it.”

“I’ll just move it where it doesn’t bother you.”

3 ice cubes, once a week. Indirect light. I can do this.

“Nurse- where’s the plant that was in the kitchen?”

“ Your father asked me to toss it.”

“WHAT?! NO! Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?!!” He lay quietly, with a soft smile on his lips.

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