On the cusp…

Ker-thump. Ker-thump. Ker-thump…


ao_valveThe mouth of the valve strained with every gushing heartbeat as blood cells crowded, one on top of the other, each trying to be the first to squeeze through the newly tightened space. The lethargic aortic cusp no longer opened wide like a hungry fish mouth, murmuring, ready to let everything in, unable to pump anything out. Yet, the sutures strained to maintain the new prosthetic valve’s position, slightly rocking back and forth.

This was the daily rhythm of this place.

Meanwhile, lines pulled tight like sutures around Mrs. Johnson’s mouth, denoting her own heart’s strain in the waiting room. She had long exhausted herself from pacing hours before, the only voices there to comfort her being those inside her murmuring head. She rocked quietly in the ripped Naugahyde chair that hadn’t been designed for (nor was any longer capable of) receiving such blatant torture. But all she considered was whether her husband’s heart was designed for the torture his body was presently undergoing – his chest cavity cracked open, clamps holding it spread eagle style, while a sterile machine sucked the life out of him…and then back in…beat after gurgling beat.

A family nearby gurgled over a baby, over food, over one another. Mrs. Johnson’s heart ached.

“Code Blue,” came the announcement — much too serene for its meaning – over the hospital intercom system, causing Mrs. Johnson’s heart to gurgle and miss a beat. She squeezed her blue eyes tight and rocked harder, a whimper escaping her mind as she heard the chair’s pleather rip. Minutes felt like days with each crack of another knuckle.

A half-hour more passed before a tired white coat entered the waiting area, looking around in dismay. Mrs. Johnson teetered on the cusp of her settled space.

A family nearby slowly stood, wrapping one another in their tears as they watched his face fall and his head shake.

Ker-thump. Mrs. Johnson had to reprimand herself that this was no time for celebration.


Another week, another Trifecta challenge…(but I mean that in the very best way! I’ve come to look forward to these prompts, but moreso to enjoying this writing community). I thought we could take a trip into the cardiac surgical suite this week with the prompt that was offered:

MOUTH  (and, no, not as in “The Mouth of the South”). As in, its 3rd definition:

Here are “The Rules.” Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone.  Please join us.

Trifecta Winner Icon - 300dpi


44 thoughts on “On the cusp…

    • thank you, Sandra – it’s always intriguing to crawl into a character’s head and have that particular experience, isn’t it? Admittedly, I have my limits – I shy away from creepy brains! ha!

  1. This…this is worthy of — of, well, something nameless at the moment. This just jerks your heart right out of your chest! Gave me an inkling as to what my family was feeling as they waited to hear if I was dead or alive…

    • So sorry to hear your family had to go through a fright like that. I tried to imagine how much worse it must be to go through that alone. Hope all is well with you now & thank you for your comments. Peace, -j

  2. That is exactly how one feels. we let lose a sigh of relief when we realize the bad news wasn’t for us. Great story. And I loved the opening lines as well, although I really hope that they don’t put sutures that rock back and forth, in there! 😛

  3. lines pulled tight like sutures around Mrs. Johnson’s mouth – what a great visually perfect line.

    The waiting is the toughest. The patient is unaware of anything . . . it is the family that suffers. You have portrayed this well.

  4. Stealing a few moments, while I should be writing report card comments, to go where I’d much rather be……glad I had a chance to read your work this week. Fabulous job! Lots of great lines throughout. Excellent pacing of the scene and nice twist at the end. Very personal slice of life. As Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sing, “The Waaaaaaaiting is the Hardest Part.” And, with that, back to the real world. Bye for now! 🙂

  5. I am a little speechless at the moment. (actually that’s okay, as I’m alone) First I think I have landed in the ER and have to listen to all this medical jargon. (I’m deathly squeamish hearing such things) Then I’m in the waiting room with Mrs. Johnson… reading some great lines. I was going to list my favorites, but there are to many. I’m glad the Mr. pulled through… your last line was perfect.

  6. Am amazed at how clearly you described the failings of the heart-both as an organ & as an emotional platform!Loved the description of the operation & the agony of the waiting patient-nice vignette of the different emotions of those who come into a hospital-some to celebrate birth & recovery,others to mourn the loss of their loved ones:-)Great weft & warp in this one!

  7. I appreciated this original opening and the small details of her surroundings that so quietly illustrated her frustrations…the happy family nearby…the abused chair.

    I’m new to Trifecta and already enjoying the company.

    • Welcome & thanks for stopping in to pull up an old chair & say hi. 🙂 I haven’t been here for too very long, but find this to be a welcoming and supportive community. I especially enjoy learning everyone’s different personalities and writing styles. -j

  8. Wonderful story.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.

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