After Hours

By Rebecca Turkewitz

November 23, 2020

After Hours

My grandfather wakes, confused and flooded with his body’s toxins. "Sit down," he tells my grandmother. "We’re going around a bend." He thinks they’re on the train forty years ago. He reaches for invisible handholds and says, "It’s bumpy. Will you please sit down, dear?"

My grandmother takes his hand and says, "It’s okay. We’re safe." The ICU is quieter than usual. It’s three hours past visiting time, and I feel a strange sense of privilege in being here so late, like being the last to leave a party or the only one awake in a sleeping house.

I close my eyes and listen to the low hum of the air conditioner. The floor begins to sway and roll—not like an earthquake, nor like a train, but as if the ground were the flank of an enormous animal, uneasy in its sleep. Be careful, I want to warn my grandmother. The world is alive and breathing and about to wake up and shake us off.


Rebecca Turkewitz is a writer and high school English teacher living in Portland, Maine. Her writing has appeared in SmokeLong QuarterlyThe Masters ReviewChicago Quarterly ReviewThe New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, and elsewhere. (


Photo by Adam Bixby courtesy of Unsplash

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