Short Fiction ~ Niles Reddick
Maggie left this world on Christmas Day at the hospital, the family was devastated, and the tragedy will forever be etched in the memory for all their future Christmases. “It just won’t be the same without Mama,” her daughter said at the funeral home when she made the arrangements.
Maggie didn't want to hang on any longer. She had grown weary even before she felt sick of the materialism of the season, the fretting over gifts, the worry of who would bring what dish to dinner on Christmas Eve, of whether the house was cleaned and how the furniture was arranged to accommodate everyone, of whether she could maintain a friendly smile at the son-in-law who'd hit her precious daughter, and how awkward it might be since her daughter was struggling to leave or stay and go to counseling.
When they gave Maggie Morphine, she simply closed her eyes and listened to the hymns coming from the television that costs five dollars a day that Medicare wouldn’t cover, and she took a deep breath when Mariah Carey naturally slipped up multiple octaves on “Oh, night, divine” and had goose bumps on her arms, felt the warmth as she sat up, climbed out of bed, and looked back at what had become an old woman.
Maggie stepped into the hallway, saw a familiar childhood friend she'd gone all through school with, and said hello. They hugged, clasped hands, and walked like they had done so many times in childhood to church, to school, to the store for cherry cokes and peanuts. They walked past the nurses’ station where there was a flutter of activity because Maggie's monitors were beeping, and on into the next hall toward the window, and into the evening sky toward the Pleiades cluster.
Niles Reddick is author of the novel Drifting too far from the Shore, two collections Reading the Coffee Grounds and Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in eleven anthologies and in over two hundred literary magazines including The Saturday Evening Post, PIF, New Reader Magazine, Forth Magazine, Cheap Pop, Flash Fiction Magazine, With Painted Words, among many others.