Time of Death | Teen Ink

Time of Death MAG

January 15, 2009
By Grace Hoo Hoo BRONZE, Palatine, Illinois
Grace Hoo Hoo BRONZE, Palatine, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The first death on your watch isn’t even your fault. You’re just one of the many interns who rush to the bedside when the code is called, peering at the doctors crowding around. As the patient gasps and chokes, you too gasp and choke as each electric shock blasts through the body. The doctors are grim-faced but determined; you hopelessly wonder why they even bother. Again and again the voltage is cranked up, but thunderbolts can only do so much.

The doctor holding the paddles slowly turns away from the flaccid flesh and another quietly asks, “Time of death?” You back away, feeling as if the defibrillator was really meant for you as your heart pounds out its own furious pace. A devastated mother takes your wrist. “Time of death?” she whispers, mis­taking you for a doctor, someone who tried his best to resuscitate her darling daughter, someone who knew what he was doing, someone with guts enough to challenge death. Not a first-year intern who never could remember which number was the systolic for blood pressure, not someone who didn’t even dare to take blood sugar levels.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” you blurt. “You’ll be able to talk to the doctors inside …,” you mumble, patting the trembling hand. She bites her lip and nods, letting go of the scrubs that you shouldn’t be wearing, the scrubs reserved for those who can save lives, not for those who don’t even know how to gently break death to a loved one.

The third death is similar, only this time you’ve been dragged along for scut work. You’re the one ramming your hands into the sternum, trying to force the fluttering heartbeat into your rhythm. You’re the one leaping out of the way of the defib paddles, jumping back to start compressions again. The patient bottoms out, but after the paddles thunder a third time, you can feel the thump of the heart, tangoing with yours as you collapse against a chair, arms quivering with strain. You shudder with relief. You brought him back. You saved him. You.

The eighteen death is the hardest. That little baby in neo-natal care should never have been forced to live on machines. Each breath is a struggle, and the medications are flowing in a poisonous concentration for such a small body, yet the parents insist on continuing the farce of life. They’re unwilling to bear any grief while their baby boy wheezes and thrashes weakly, seeking comfort but receiving only the hard embrace of a hospital cradle and the groan of machines.

The mother shrieks, “He’s blue! Do something!” After you reach the crib and despair at the readouts, you motion the code team away and beckon to the mother and father.

“The best thing for him is to take him off the machines,” you say.

The dad glares. “You want to kill him.”

They don’t understand the torture they have put him through. “If he even survives a year, he will be severely physically and mentally disabled. For life,” I persist.

The mother moans, “He’s blue! I don’t care. Just save him! Now!”

You nod at the code team, maneuvering yourselves around the tiny crib and pulling off the oxygen mask, trying to fit your large palms against the flimsy baby with his face scrunched up in a silent wail. The heart drugs aren’t having any effect due to the amount of medication already flowing through his body.

“Use the shocker!” the mother wails.

“We can’t!” you snarl, trying to give compressions to a weak chest and an even weaker malformed heart. “Your baby is too small and his heart is deformed! If we do, we’ll kill him!”

The code leader shakes his head. “Time of death ….”


“3:36 p.m.”

The thirty-third death is the best death. You’re the one in charge. If a code is called, you will wield the paddles, call out “Clear!” You have the final say on time of death if it occurs. You won’t let those words pass your lips.

But she smiles at you through her pure white hair. “I’m ready to leave. Are you ready to let me go?”

You sob, throw down the clipboard. “No, Mom! I don’t want you to.”

She still wears the tender smile of years past as her body wastes away and shrivels to a mere fraction of her vitality. “But it’s necessary. I need you to. And you know it.”

“Mom ….”

And she brushes her hand against yours, squeezing it once before closing her eyes. “You’re ready.”

You kiss her cooling cheek then note: “Time of death: 9:12 a.m., Thursday, April 24 ….”

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This article has 300 comments.

on Jul. 17 2011 at 11:36 am
Tongue_Blep PLATINUM, ????, Ohio
40 articles 1 photo 769 comments
I loved the story! and was impressedut great!! sad b Great job! (Sorry for the advertizing!) If any of u coulld read my two stories called the beast and nightstalker, that would be great! Also please post comments saying if u liked it or not. Thanks! And keep writing! :D

on Jul. 13 2011 at 5:32 pm
HollyBell BRONZE, Orpington, Kent, Other
3 articles 0 photos 23 comments
This was really good. I loved it. Well deserved to go in the magasine. It's inspired me to actually get off my bum and put some of my ideas into words! :D Well done.

Ally_H. GOLD said...
on Jul. 13 2011 at 12:12 pm
Ally_H. GOLD, Bridgeport, West Virginia
18 articles 26 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don\'t matter and those who matter don\'t mind.

This was absolutely and completely amazing. I'm sitting here sobbing just thinking about it. Please continue writing :)

Mystiecub said...
on Jul. 13 2011 at 9:19 am
wow, I LOVE how you put this article together, it's really emotional and makes your reader think.

on Jul. 13 2011 at 8:23 am
thecape196 BRONZE, Oviedo, Florida
4 articles 9 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
The problem with not having a goal is you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score

what an amazing article!! very well writin and i like your writing style! if you have time maybe you can look at my work? thanks!!

on Jun. 21 2011 at 5:40 pm
AlyssaFama SILVER, Kunkletown, Pennsylvania
5 articles 0 photos 60 comments

Favorite Quote:
Most people want to be the sun that brightens your day. I'd rather be the moon that shines down on you in your darkest hour.

this is really interesting, the point of view it was written in. great job!

on Jun. 21 2011 at 5:14 pm
penny-writer BRONZE, Swings And Slides Ridge, Illinois
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments
thats simply beautiful. It was so interesting in the way it was executed and how time seemed to be passing... a tear-jerker, but absolutely fantastic

on Jun. 21 2011 at 4:41 pm
Jean16Bean PLATINUM, Batavia, New York
21 articles 0 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writing is not hard. Just get paper and pencil, sit down and write as it occurs to you. The writing is easy-it's the occurring that's hard."-Stephen Leacock

This is really good, clever and interesting!

on Jun. 6 2011 at 4:04 pm
Leena7395 SILVER, Spring Grove, Illinois
8 articles 0 photos 80 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be who you are because those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter.

I like it. Clever, original, and creative! sad, but good :)

on Jun. 6 2011 at 12:40 pm
SmilingJoker BRONZE, Ave, Vermont
4 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
“If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.”-The Crow (1994)

I liked it, it was sad but so original and good.

Author2Young said...
on May. 30 2011 at 8:10 pm
 I'm sorry I could never take thee spotlight away from this amazing story with my crummy one and I apologize to the author I absolutly loved this story, it was an inspiration

niimabear GOLD said...
on May. 30 2011 at 8:01 pm
niimabear GOLD, Wakaw, Other
12 articles 2 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
I don't have a favorite quote, but I do have a standard by which I live. That standard is to follow God's will for my life, knowing that only he can truely make me happy. I believe that God takes the bad in life, and uses it to bring goodness.

Sorry that was supposed to be for author2young.

niimabear GOLD said...
on May. 30 2011 at 7:59 pm
niimabear GOLD, Wakaw, Other
12 articles 2 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
I don't have a favorite quote, but I do have a standard by which I live. That standard is to follow God's will for my life, knowing that only he can truely make me happy. I believe that God takes the bad in life, and uses it to bring goodness.

No offence, but I think it was innappropraite of you to post your own story on this author's story. This page is for (him/her). If you would like to post stories, this is a great sight- you should sign up! But otherwise, it seems rude to take away from this author's moment to post your own story.

Author2Young said...
on May. 30 2011 at 7:06 pm

I don’t look in the mirror and see an inspiration, I see a girl with a terminal disease whose clothes sag hopelessly and can’t keep her own head of full hair. I see a girl who keeps on keeping on just because she doesn’t want to mope around and waste space, not to be seen in every magazine or be the headline or every newspaper. I’m Taylor Harris and I have cancer of the stomach, I’m on chemo which makes me weak, my stomach upset, and other illnesses occur, but the worst of it all is the weakness and stomach pain. I sometimes get so weak I just all together collapse and shut-down. My stomach pains get so bad, that when I try to move, the pain hits in such waves I have to stop, completely, until it passes, which is why people call me a “trooper” because I continue to compete in marathons. They worry because the marathons I compete in don’t generally just have one running event, most include a mile run, a mile swim, then you finish it off with a mile of bike-riding, vigorous and my thing. I did this before I was diagnosed with cancer and I will continue until the day my heart stops beating, which, according to my doctor, may even be soon.“You can’t!”

 “I can.” I reply calmly, “Your body is telling you something, you aren’t physically able anymore, Taylor!” My mother shrieks, I wince, her voice pierces straight through my head, worsening my already pulsing headache. “This could be a huge opportunity for me, mom, I’m talking scholarship possibilities here.”  She rubs her head as if her herself were getting a headache, she looks me in the eyes, “Taylor, honey, enough is enough,” She looks me up and down, shakes her head and walks away. I feel a stomach ache coming on. I head to my room and lay down, clutching my stomach and groaning quietly. You can’t do I my mother’s words come into my head, hauntingly. After several minutes of pure agony I get up, no point in wasting space, I decide. This has become my day, wake up, get ready for school, collapse into either pain or exhaustion, go to school, get told I can’t a few times throughout the day, come home, face another sort of pain, repeat. I run downstairs and get into my Malibu. Driving is tiring, makes me want to sleep. I sink into the seat and turn on the ignition, feeling the engine spring to life. I drive to Starbucks like I do every morning and grab a ginormous blueberry muffin and a vanilla latte. After downing my breakfast I drive to school to face the horror I call a day.I walk into the theatre. Silence. I keep walking, “Good luck tomorrow, Taylor.” A boy, Jacob Harris, calls out I smile, “Thanks,” Whispers now. I plop down next to Rachel Goodlet and Sammy Jacobs, “Hey Rache, hey Sam,”“Hi Taylor,” Rachel smiles and gives me a small, dorky wave. “Are you serious about competing this weekend?” Sammy asks, “Sure, It’s the regionals and if you place in the top 10 you go to state, but is it worth it?” Her soft green eyes tear into mine. I nod my head slowly, “This is what my whole life has been spent training for Sam and I’m not going to let this illness bring me down,”“But it’s not just an illness! Tay, you don’t understand this ‘illness’ can kill someone like you easy!” Rachel snaps, her eyes tearing up, “And I don’t want the last time for me to see you this beautiful, in your prime, in a casket,” she wipes her eyes, smudging her eye-liner. I look her in the eye, “I’m to bull headed for it to bring me down to easy,” I tell her she sighs and looks away the bell rings and I head to my first period class.“Class you have free period next, don’t waste it texting or goofing off, study,” Mr. Grayson tells us with a wave of dismissal. I pull out my phone to see  I have a notification from my trainer.'Taylor, I can’t wait to see you show-off in front of those scouts tomorrow you’ll rock it I trust you babe, sleep good!!!' I smile, one class period until I can go practice. Loud speaker beeps, “Taylor Harris check-out!” I stand in dis-belief why? Ah I don’t care! I think as I run out of the school.“Mom?”

“I only checked you out because you need practice, if you’re serious about tomorrow. “I-I really?!?” she nods somberly, “Go home, practice running and biking, run to the pool and swim a bit, then go to bed,” I nod, “Thank you, so much Mom,” she nods again, “Bye Baby I love you,”BEEP BEEP BEEP SMACK I hit my alarm, no way it’s the day, I get up and shove a sweat suit over a bikini. I don’t have time for breakfast, I grab my shoes and drive off to my destiny.

Author2Young said...
on May. 30 2011 at 7:03 pm
I love it, I'm to young for this site but I have an ok story (in my opinion) I want to share..... I'll post it on this story plzz comment oh and this piece, fluent heart touching and just a piece of pure beauty :)

Hejlna BRONZE said...
on May. 30 2011 at 12:12 pm
Hejlna BRONZE, Portland, Maine
1 article 0 photos 18 comments
Keep writing. You're really good at it. That peace got right down inside of my heart. I could feel it.

on May. 30 2011 at 3:23 am
Saffron_tides GOLD, Dubai, Other
14 articles 0 photos 54 comments

Favorite Quote:
My candle burns on both ends,
It will not last the night;
But Ah! my foes and Oh! my friends it gives a lovely light.

Wonderful!! YOu expressed the emotions just right!! Brought out a difficult feeling beautifully! Keep it up :D

ElmoWrite27 said...
on May. 27 2011 at 10:36 pm
ElmoWrite27, Dallas, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid."
:) RaWrr

This was beautiful..

I love  it and what you write.Keep It up Please(:

on May. 22 2011 at 5:56 pm
Stpaulian BRONZE, Kewadin, Michigan
2 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
Bad Spellers of the world 'untie'.

Thats amazing. I love how each scene is different and a different situation is occuring. Its really sad when its thier mom dying at the end. 

Your good keep writing.

on May. 19 2011 at 11:41 am
RachelHuber BRONZE, Hilltown, Pennsylvania
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Only God Can Judge Me

wow this is so amazing keep up the great job.

you have a talent dont let it go