Pick Me Up by Diana Nicholson

"Pick Me Up" is one of the October Writing Challenge entries that was chosen to be a featured story.


People have a time limit. From the moment you’re born, you’re on your way to your demise. As depressing as that is, it’s true. And it had never felt as true to her as it did right now, sitting in the empty hospital room.

It hadn’t always been so empty. Hours ago it had been filled with family members, doctors, nurses, and one lone hospital bed. Then, everything had been okay, her family’s banter was not nearly as soothing as the synchronized beeps that seemed to be the only thing she could zone in on. The beeping was good. It meant that the heart attached was alive and beating. That he was still here. But she knew that he wasn’t really. Just physically. Not emotionally or mentally although she liked to think that there was some alternate universe during brain death that allowed said person to be here spiritually. Like in those movies.

And now, as she toyed with his final gift to her, a single key rusted and scratched, she desperately longed for that mellifluous beeping.

Now, the room is empty. Not a single family member, doctor, or nurse there. Not even that lone hospital bed parked in the corner. They had long since wheeled it out, taking his lifeless body and a little bit of her sanity with it.

She had admired her father since she could remember. He was a college professor by day and a genius inventor in his spare time. She couldn’t remember a sentence out of his mouth that weren’t deep words of advice. He had known how to pick her up when she was down, no matter how down she was. And as she stared at the barren corner, the ghost of beeps faintly echoing in her head, she couldn’t help but think: He can’t pick me up out of this.

She stayed in her position, knees pulled to her chest as she sat on the floor in the other corner, staring off at the empty space, tapping her fingers to the long gone beeps, as if some god, some magic, some thing, would bring him back and the last couple hours would turn out to be a terrible nightmare that she could wake up from.

When the clock struck eight, a kind nurse made her way over, calmly so not to startle her, and told her she had to go, that her family was downstairs. She reluctantly went. She wasn’t in the mood to put up a fight like she usually would’ve. She floated, it seemed, to the car, her brain not linking up with her muscles to tell her she was moving.

Although she longed to sprint back in there and demand she stay, she could feel the metal key digging into her palm, and she itched to use it.

She knew the place this key opened. She had admired it from afar for too long. She was never allowed in her dad’s study. She tried countless times to sneak in but was always caught. Yet the weird noises and strange luminescence coming from inside made her sneak back time and time again.

So when she got home, she ran right there, letting no one stop her, although she knew no one would anymore.

She walked up the rickety stairs to the attic, wincing every time the wood groaned under her weight. Her curiosity couldn’t take it any longer. She had to know what was behind the door that now stood before her. And standing in front of it, she could still feel the pulse, the aura coming from the room. As if he was still here.

Turning the key and cracking open the door, she realized he had done it again, and that maybe, somehow, he could still pick her up at her lowest.



Diana Nicholson

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