THE LAST TO GO were the smells. The tangle of tubes, the television screen, the faces of friends and family vanished, of course, as soon as she closed her eyes. The light through her eyelids had lasted a little longer.
She had enjoyed the ride, on the whole. Enjoyed it well enough that she would have liked to do it all over again if she could have. But it was time to move on.
After the beeping stopped, the voices and other sounds faded as well, but the strange hospital scent, that antiseptic astringency, took the longest to go.
Emotions went next. Evelyn found she had no anxiety about the future, or the lack of future. She thought about Norm, and Sally, and how they would get on without her, but the tightness in her stomach and throat which had come with those thoughts during the last few months was completely gone.
Perhaps, she thought, everything would go eventually. Perhaps that was how it worked.
But no. Just when she thought the fading was inevitable, just when she thought that it would finally fade to nothing at all, a very small dim glimmer of light appeared in the distance.
She had thought that distance was one of the things which had gone.
At first she wasn't sure, but the more she focused her attention on it, the more certain she was.
It was definitely there, definitely light.
She found she could move toward it, even though she had no body to move.
Yes, it was getting closer—or, at least brighter and larger. She stopped trying to approach it, and it stopped changing, so she was controlling her own movement.
For a brief moment, she found herself wishing that Norm could be here. Or, if not Norm, then... Someone else. There had been someone else. Her name had started with an "S". Evelyn couldn't remember.
She began to move again, and the light grew larger still. It seemed as though she was moving toward the end of a tunnel, and that thought seemed familiar as well. She had heard it somewhere before, somehow connected to this context.
She would have to ask... What was his name? She tried to picture him, but failed.
She was moving slower now. As she approached the light, she seemed to be getting bogged down, as though she were encumbered somehow.
What had his name been? They had been together, almost one person at times. Evelyn and...
There was a kind of drumming around her now, not so much a sound as a feeling. It was powerful, but also comforting.
The light was very close, she knew, but she couldn't see it anymore. It was somewhere above her head, and she knew, somehow, that she didn't need to try to move toward it anymore—that was inevitable now.
She tried once more to remember. Evelyn and... But it meant nothing to her anymore. She couldn't even remember who Evelyn was.
There was a sudden and violent pressure on her from all sides. Then another, and another.
And then the light swallowed her.
It was incredibly bright.
The scent that assaulted her nostrils was familiar—antiseptic and astringent.
So, too, the sounds. She remembered nothing now, so she didn't recognize them as voices.
"You have a daughter."
"Whoooo-eee! A girl. A baby girl!"
Cold hands—though she didn't know they were hands—moved her around, did strange things to her. Finally she was wrapped and secure, lifted through the air, and held by other hands, more familiar.
She snuggled close.
"Hello, baby," the familiar voiced said. "Hello, little Evelyn."