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.

Meko8195 said...
on May. 11 2011 at 11:17 am
Meko8195, Dover, Pennsylvania
0 articles 4 photos 96 comments

Favorite Quote:
The pressure makes us stronger, the struggle makes us hunger; the hard lessons make the difference...and the difference makes it worth it.

Im slightly crying right now!!!! that was amazing!

on May. 8 2011 at 9:48 pm
Angel_eyes SILVER, New York City, New York
6 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life goes on no matter what so live life with those that truly deserve you."

My point exactly I'm glad someone agrees with me lol XD normally I'd ask you to check out my work but it's still being approved so technically I don't have any work isn't that great!? X)

on May. 8 2011 at 8:19 pm
Krikette BRONZE, Sunnyvale, California
3 articles 0 photos 22 comments
Excellent! Original.

on May. 8 2011 at 6:33 pm
directorchick419 GOLD, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania
15 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'd wanted to stay on that porch with him until the sun shone bright on both of us, but i didn't. I stood up and walked down the steps. I'd rather chase the sun than wait for it." from I am the Messanger by Markus Zusak.

wonderful use of the second person narritive

Aamna BRONZE said...
on May. 8 2011 at 5:24 pm
Aamna BRONZE, Burlington, Other
2 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Happiness come to those who wait"

This is really amazing. I felt all the emotions - you described it very vivdly. It seems like you're writing from some sort of experience, have you seen some die at a hospital? I have and you captured all the details perfectly. It's making me cry inside. AMAZING WORK. Please check out my story called Precarious Puruit. Tell me what you think! :)

on May. 8 2011 at 3:32 pm
I totally agree, second person is complicatedd

on May. 8 2011 at 10:20 am
Angel_eyes SILVER, New York City, New York
6 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life goes on no matter what so live life with those that truly deserve you."

This was really good it takes talent to be able to write in second person especially since most people rarely do


on May. 6 2011 at 8:23 pm
ohsopoisonous GOLD, Salisbury, North Carolina
11 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I don't care if it hurts, I want to have control. I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul. I want you to notice when I'm not around." -Radiohead.

Oh my gosh. That was amazing, and i'm in tears haha.. Keep writing, this is very unique and overall one of the more original i've read. This was great. <3

on May. 4 2011 at 6:34 pm
Savannah.F BRONZE, Valrico, Florida
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, its yours forever. If it dosent, then it was never meant to be."

this is really good :)

your really talented

N.B.44 said...
on Apr. 16 2011 at 10:41 pm
Wow! this is such a great and inspiring short story. Keep up the good work!

JoPepper said...
on Apr. 16 2011 at 9:06 pm
Omg this is so true, Whoever gives you 5 stars is nuts I give you 6 stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :o

on Apr. 16 2011 at 7:58 pm
allybymyself SILVER, Fullerton, California
7 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
And miles to go before I sleep- Robert Frost

My heart was beating!! Very good!

on Apr. 16 2011 at 5:38 pm
dancingluverr BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments
This is absolutely incredible! I know exactly what you mean.

on Apr. 16 2011 at 2:50 pm
H0peF1ames BRONZE, Blaine, Minnesota
3 articles 0 photos 10 comments
Wow! This is a very intense short story! Very sad and touching! But it was a little confusing when you kept switching from death to death.

on Apr. 16 2011 at 11:17 am
AnnaBaldwin BRONZE, Hixson, Tennessee
1 article 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
-- Howard Zinn

wow that was truely beautiful. Very moving, keep it up.

on Apr. 16 2011 at 10:12 am
MadiBird PLATINUM, Warrenton, Virginia
21 articles 1 photo 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hate isn't the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. Because if you hate, you still care."

Oh my gosh....this gave me chills. Very well-written and original! Beautiful job!

on Apr. 16 2011 at 9:24 am
kwuffles BRONZE, Carmel Valley, California
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
That was brilliant.

on Apr. 16 2011 at 9:06 am
rubyrainstorm SILVER, Closter, New Jersey
7 articles 0 photos 275 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Wow...this was a really emotional, really beautiful piece. Is it a true story? Anyways, keep on writing. If you have time, please check out, rate, and comment on my poem, The Girl Inside. Thanks!!!! 8)

on Apr. 8 2011 at 9:34 pm
Untouchable-Summer SILVER, Cranford, New Jersey
6 articles 0 photos 86 comments

Favorite Quote:
Even the best fall down sometimes

Fantastic. It was so emotional for me to read, and it made me realize the huge responsibility doctors have. Thanks for sharing with us.

on Mar. 29 2011 at 7:21 pm
Penfencer BRONZE, Amherst, Massachusetts
4 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I see you have a sword. I have one too. They're very ... manly. And ... tough."

I have to say I disagree. I understand your opinion on it getting a bit smothering, but for my feedback I have to say I thought it was an excellent use of second person. Very powerful.