NaNOWriMo Story 2015
CHAPTER ONE: Solitude
Hello. My name is Sara. That’s nothing spectacular, I know.
I’ve walked these halls for so long I’ve lost track of time. I’ve seen the seasons change, though, and I don’t know how many times. I don’t look Outside so often anymore; except the nights I go out to the roof and watch the stars.
Days pass watching people come and go, live or die. Days pass watching people try to save other people, and sometimes they win and sometimes they lose. I pass the time watching TV with the other patients, talking to the nurses, the other patient’s families. I talk a lot because I’ve come to hate the silence.
Nights are harder. It’s quieter, there are fewer people, and the nurses like to turn off the TV’s so there’s nothing to watch. I end up in the E.R. a lot then, and let me tell you – I don’t like it there at all. The place makes my bones ache in this terrified sort of way. But I go and sit with the people waiting for treatment, and I hear their stories.
I see the emergency personnel bring in the bad cases. I’ve gotten pretty immune to the blood and gore. I suppose I already was, to be honest.
The thing is, for all my talking, they never answer me.
They can’t see me, you see. They can’t hear me. They can’t feel me. I walk around the hospital alone, and pretend I’m not.
Some nights I wander out to stand at that weird space in the E.R. I’m sure you know the one – that space between the sets of automatic doors. I know before all of this I’d see some healthcare places that had benches in there, or wheel chairs, or even people greeters. Mine had nothing. Dark carpet, dark walls, and Outside would be whatever season and time of day I’d once again missed unfolding.
I tried to leave a few times, but I just “woke” back up beside my bed. I hate seeing myself there, pale and … neat. I was never that neat in my life, perfectly tucked in like that, hair just so. No bruises marked my skin, no pen marks or color, no scrapes or scratches. Nothing that hinted of living life marked me anymore. Just tubes and white sheets, hair too vivid against the colorless pillowcase.
I’d stood there and yelled at myself so many times. Wake up, I’d yell. I’m RIGHT HERE! I’d scream. I begged please, please just open your eyes.
I said so many things. I called myself every bad thing in the book, and then some. I promised everything I could think of, and threatened every threat. But still I laid there, still and silent.
They said I wasn’t dead – my brain was still functioning. But they didn’t know why I wouldn’t wake up. I screamed at them, too. Pleaded, begged, screamed, and threatened – all of it, all over again. Nurses, doctors, interns, family.
They never responded. I couldn’t touch them, and they walked right through me more than once.
You know how when you’re a kid in school you feel invisible – these people or those people don’t listen. Your parents don’t notice this or that. The teachers are oblivious.
Well, this is worse than that. At least then, if you screamed until you were hoarse, someone would notice. If you got hurt badly enough, someone would do something. Maybe if you told someone about what was happening, all the things bottled up inside you, waiting to just explode and bleed everywhere… someone would just do something. Except we often fail to realize, in those times, that people are doing things. Our friends are smiling at us, laughing with us. Our teachers are watching us, listening when we don’t think they are. Our parents are trying their hardest to make a life for you and themselves. We think they don’t want us, and our problems. That we’re a burden to their already complicated lives. Or we don’t even think about the fact they have their own lives.
So we wrap ourselves up in ourselves, but still bump into each other. All over the place, hundreds of times a day, we bump into each other. But unless we break that silence, break that self-containment, we just keep drifting. And I swear, it’s just words, tears, or a breath away to break that.
I wish it were still that easy.
Because now I can see all of that. Now that I can scream until my voice no longer works, and no one hears me. I can try to hit people, I can cry…
And it’s nothing to anyone.
So it’s another night of watching infomercials with the elderly woman in room 304, who talks to herself. I answer her sometimes, but she never notices. She doesn’t even notice the nurses, sometimes, though. She was a sweet woman at one point. Has five kids, eight grandkids, but won’t stop asking for the husband who died ten years ago. She sleeps a lot because she’s sick, and one of these nights she’ll stop for good. I can see it coming, slowly. There is this blurriness to her edges, as if she were somehow losing cohesion, and sometimes I see these flickers of light there.
I swear, it’s the times when she’s the most unaware of the nurses – when that blurriness is worst – I swear she looks at me sometimes. She’s quiet then, pale blue eyes watery and wandering, but she focuses them on me and just watches for a moment.
But then, maybe she’s just seeing her past.
Maybe another night spent with the insomniac ten year old with leukemia. He’s pretty interesting. He’s teaching himself Spanish, and turns his headphones up too loud, so I’m sort of learning it too. He draws these wild pictures of dragons and knights, and his parents have turned a few into stuffed animals I sometimes try to take with me. I’ve knocked them over once or twice, and he looks around quietly and gently says “I’m sorry you’re stuck here.” before uttering a prayer for my soul.
He’s not blurry, not anymore. He was, when he first came in, you see. But it got better with time and treatment, and I expect at some point he’ll go home, soon. He laughs more now.
I could go down to the E.R. and see what mess the city has concocted tonight. Another horrible car accident? Just a night of whatever happens Out There? A mass shooting? A gang fight? A child dying of something or another, or …
You see, in the E.R. you get used to these things. It becomes less about what happened and more about the treatment. How do you save the life of the person or people right there, here and now?
I love to watch the E.R. staff work on my good nights. I like to imagine they did this for me, for whatever reason I’m here. I like to think they worried over whatever happened, trying to put the pieces together to keep me alive. Do they puzzle over my silence, my lack of living? Or am I just another phantom – another patient in the long list of patients they see and try to help every night?
Once in a while I go to the maternity ward.
The maternity ward hurts, too, just like the E.R. does – except it’s a sort of pain in my heart and mind. I look at the babies and I think about how they’ll go off and live their lives – with their parents and other people, drifting around and running into them. People don’t start off wrapped in their cocoons of themselves, you see.
Sometimes I say prayers of my own sort, hoping they won’t come back here for anything major.
I have a seen a few who are blurry, even this young. I sit beside them, and I watch intently. I poke their machines, if they have them. I wake them up by bumping their cradles. I try to make the nurses pay attention. THIS ONE, I yell, SOMETHING IS WRONG.
This one needs you, I cry.
This one is special, I whisper.