Wither – Austin L. Wiggins


“I don’t want anything else,” he said then coughed. It was a dry, raspy cough made hoarse through frequent recurrence. From his neatly made bed he addressed his friend again, “I couldn’t ask anyone else.”

Jamal had watched his only friend wither and shrivel into half his body weight. He’d watched the one-hundred percent less appetite, same for his hair. Moreover, he no longer had the strength to walk, and his legs now seemed so brittle that they’d simply crumble if he stood. Jamal noted the changes religiously – not for memory’s sake, but because the experience had been unreal.

June 2,

Summer started. There was supposed to be hope but there is none. Jose’s family doesn’t even come to see him anymore. There’s no hope for him. He’s miserable and is terrible at hiding it. I keep coming anyway. I have to see it through to the end.

“I can’t do that Jose,” Jamal said finally. “They’d call it murder.” Jose nodded.

“Then don’t come anymore. I’m getting worse and no one needs to see that. So either you help me die or you say goodbye today.”

Jamal lingered in the silence, lacking the words to express himself. Instead of raising objections Jamal said, “Goodbye,” and left the hospital. No one else was there to support Jose through his atrophy, decay, and eventual death. The contrast between open casket and framed photo was so sharp that it reminded all those who looked upon him of the vicious and hideous nature of death.


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