Breathe, Grace



Zoe L (Year 12)

Breathe, Grace.  


The fresh breeze cooled her flushed cheeks, unsettling the white petals of the Baby’s-breath held in front of her chest. Oranges and golden yellows decorated the concreted path that welcomed her to the familiar sliding doors; a red cross proudly planted on the wall above. 


Strands of linoleum and sanitisers forced the floral scents from her nose in a wave accompanied by the shrill scratching of metal poles, and an aleatoric symphony of beeping and clicking machines. Grace paused at the doorway; fingertips rested on her rounded torso. Her ears tuned into the faint cry of a newborn from the ward to her right, her eyes attempting to trace the sound through the maze of hospital gowns and steel carts. Her focus was captured by Future’s promised bed of white sheets with flowers and congratulation cards lining the bedside table. I’ll meet you soon, my love. 


The brisk air greeted the back of her neck sneaking in the now opened doors behind her as a young man in navy scrubs strode in and rounded the greyed glass of the operating theatre wing. Her eyes lifted to the orange signage hung from the roof:  


Acute Supportive Care & Palliative Care Unit 


Passing under it, she lifted one foot in front of the other, softening her expression into a warm smile for the wearied face that poked above the reception desk.  


Room 14. 


“Hi Mum, it’s me, Grace,” she gently prompted meeting her mother’s absent gaze. Her mother’s eyes rolled back to the autumn leaves that wandered through the misty air on the other side of the glass, eventually finding their way to the ground.  


“How many weeks to go?” she groaned with a heavy breath, having noted Grace’s rounded stomach as it trudged into the room all exhausted looking. Her body writhed as the little air people in her lungs clutched the greying pinkish organ, tugging and twisting it into what felt like a compressed lump.  


“10 weeks, Mum,” Grace stated, a minor note of melancholy quivering under each word, “she’s excited to meet you.” 


The knitted hospital blanket was coarse against the creased skin on her hands as she weakly grasped it, weeping, “She won’t meet me,” in hopeless reply to her daughter. “I don’t have that…” she drew a whimpered breath, “…much time, Grace.”  


Radio static silence crackled in the air, coating the room in a thick haze. It hung there for more moments than it was welcome. Not enough time. The thought thundered in her mind as her eyes drifted up to meet Grace’s steeled expression, pleading for the wave of assurance that hadn’t come. For a wave of time that would ebb and flow from Future’s promised sandy shore where her granddaughter’s giggles are sprinkled with diamonds of seawater.  


Time never keeps its promises. 


As the waves in her mother’s eyes spilled onto the wrinkled folds of her paling skin, Grace sunk onto the edge of the unsettled bedsheets. She laid her hand over her mother’s and began to hum a lullaby from 24 years ago. 




Hush, my dear, lay your head on my chest 


“Mummy, I’m scared,” a sweet voice peeped out from below her floral doona cover. A single droplet escaped from her ocean eyes down the budding roses of her cheeks, meeting her mother’s delicate hand as it brushed the tear aside. 


Breathe in deep and out so slow
Let the stars of nightfall guide your rest 


Grace curled into her mother’s lap like a baby bird, innocent and peaceful, perched in a nest high above the chaos of reality.   


With each dawn, my love, I’ll watch you grow
And find your way 




Angered beeps interrupted the familiar song Grace sung as they screamed the broken promises of time’s future lands.  


I’ll love you fore… 


A darkness suffocated her mind as her head slumped to face the last of the falling autumn leaves that slid off the dying branches outside. As Grace clutched her mother’s cold hand, she could feel the light kicks of the granddaughter her mother would never meet. 


… forever and a day.  


Breathe, Grace.