She Knew

By Priscilla Paua

An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul.

Her eyes betrayed her.

She knew.

Her soul lay bare before me, shattered and broken into a million pieces.

Feelings of hopelessness, misery and despair enclosed around her, engulfing her.

She couldn’t breathe.

She knew.

A tear rolled down her eye, she wiped it away quickly with the hem of her meri blouse.

Just one word. Just one word turned her world upside down.

Her mind, unwilling to process what her ears had just heard.


She had seen the news, she had heard stories.

She knew what had happened to other women.

She never thought it would happen to her.

The reasons were the same.

No radiation therapy, no cancer medication, no cancer doctor, no bed space and the list goes on.

She knew what awaited her, her heart heavy, the fear of the unknown threatening to drown her.

She knew.

As she said goodbye, a small smile appeared on her face, but with no support and no hope of treatment overseas, the smile would only be fleeting.

We both knew, no further words were needed.

My heart pained as I watched her leave, walking down the long white hospital corridors, as it cast dark shadow upon her.

She knew death waited for her, lurking in the background, like a vulture after its prey, watching, following, and waiting.

Why, oh, why, are the questions she can only ask, with not a soul willing to answer, not a soul willing to take responsibility and so it seems not a soul willing to care.

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