Author Topic: [story] Passings  (Read 127 times)

Offline Cthulhu

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[story] Passings
« on: January 14, 2003, 05:45:56 PM »
"She was so very quiet," John said.

"I'm sorry?" the nurse asked, distracted from her magazine by his half-whispered words. He payed no attention to her, and she shrugged, returning to her article, detailing the uncanny relationship between wind direction and the sex drive of Your Man. He stared at his shoes, still mud-spattered from the rain outside. In the harsh, flourescent glare of the hospital lights, it looked like blood. Maybe it was; he couldn't bring himself to check.

It was late; the halls were quiet. The only sound was the occasional squeak of functional sneakers stepping on waxed tile floors, or an alarm that would ring from a faraway room, only to be silenced by an unseen switch at the nurse's station, after which one of the worn-looking women would stand, check a seemingly indecipherable screen of names and room numbers, pick up a chart, and go investigate. Every time John heard the high beeping noise, he would flinch, knowing that they had heard the same noise when he had pulled the alarm; knowing that they had sighed, and lazily stood from their magazines, taking their time to find out who it was, searching for their hospital chart, and slowly sauntering down to the room indicated. Watching them move so slowly, he wanted to rail at them.

"Those are people down there, damnit!" he wanted to scream. Wanted to take them by their pressed blue collars and yell into their faces with so much fury that spittle would fly from his lips onto their faces. "People are dying! They're waiting for you to save them! Run!" Instead, he sat on the uncomfortable plastic chair, and held his head in his hands. He watched them go, walking wearily down the hall. Some he saw disappear into a room nearby, others would continue down to the swinging doors and pass through, to who knows what part of the hospital.

"Mr. Madesor?" The doctor said his name wrong, pronouncing it made-sore, but John didn't correct him.

"Yes, that's me," he answered, standing. The young doctor standing before him didn't look up, but kept his eyes on a clipboard he was carrying. John got the distinct impression that the squeaky-clean young man before him wasn't a real doctor at all, but just a young student they used to annoy those people who could potentially make the real physicians uncomfortable.

"We're going to need you to fill out some paperwork, Mr. Madesor. Just some small things, a few signatures." He flipped through the pages on his clipboard as he spoke, still not looking at John.

flip . . . flip . . .

"Signatures for what?" John asked.

"Oh, nothing serious. Just a few small things we need here, just to make sure everything gets taken care of, and the right people are notified."

"I see. Do you need them right away?"

flip

"Oh, no, I would think it can wait a bit, yet. Until you feel up to it, of course. I just thought I'd let you know, so you'd be ready for it. It's sometimes a little difficult for people, you understand."

John nodded, though it was a useless gesture. The young man still hadn't looked up from his clipboard. "I suppose, yes. You have my home number, in case I don't get to it tonight?"

The doctor nodded. "Yes, we have it on file here. I'd rather it all get taken care of tonight, but it can wait a few days if you don;t feel up to it."

flip . . . flip

John hated the way he said that. On file. It made him feel like an experiment in a lab, nothing more than a few columns of interesting data that would be read when they were needed, and serve no other purpose. He didn't like the fact that they had a file on him, period. "I'll see what I can do, tonight, to get it done, then. Do I just go to the nurses station?"

The doctor nodded. "There is one that we will need right away, though, one way or the other. Donations. Would you like to have some of her organs donated? Her liver, specifically, though I imagine a few others could be used, as well." John didn't answer right away. He hadn't thought of it. Of course, they had spoken of it before; who hadn't? But now that the moment had come, he found it difficult to give them permission to . . . what was it that they called the procedure? Harvest. That was it. To harvest her organs. "I understand if you don't want to, it's a very personal thing, but her liver would go to a man in Deleware. He's been waiting for three years for a match to save his life, and judging from even the preliminary tests, it looks like hers will be a good one. We can't be sure yet, of course, but after a while you get a sense for these things."

flip

John recognised the tone. It was a pitch. As much as the doctor was right in what he was saying, he was playing on Johns emotions, trying to sell him on the idea. It was that, that and the term itself. . . harvesting. . . that made up his mind. "No. No, I don't think so. I'm sorry," he said.

The doctor frowned, the first expression he had shown during the entire conversation. "Alright. If that's your decision. As I said, it's a very personal thing, and everybody has the right to say no. But I still have to ask you to reconsider. You'd be saving a mans life, Mr. Madesor."

Like her's was saved? he wanted to ask. "I'm sorry, no," he said instead.

flip

"Alright, I guess that's that for now, then. I'll drop off the paperwork at the nurse's station. You can pick it up there tonight, or come by in the next few days, if you'd like."

"Like I said, I'll see what I can do tonight," John answered.

"That would be great." And with that, the young man turned away, his shoes squeaking on the floor as he spun on his heel. John watched him go, watching as he stopped at the nurse's station about twenty feet away, sliding the clipboard across the desk and visibly flirting for a moment with the young candystriper who was standing there. John watched as the young doctor patted the girl on the ass as he walked away, and disappeared down a side hallway. He sat down again, the small, hard seat surprisingly comfortable in his weary state.

He looked at his shoes again. They were still flaked with mud. He was sure it was mud, now. She hadn't been bleeding enough to stain his shoes like that. Searching through his hazy memory of the evening's events, he thought he pinpointed the exact moment that it had gotten there. He had been carrying her back to the road, holding her unconscious body to his chest as he struggled through the rainy night, when he slipped and stepped into a small drainage ditch in the field. It had taken him several moments to pry his foot free against the suction of the mud, and had fallen when it finally squelched loose, dropping her into the wet grass. It had stained her cheek slightly green, something he had noticed under the glare of the hospital lights when they first arrived and had been unable to explain at the time.

He sighed, and started thinking about heading home.  There was really nothing keeping him here much longer, just paperwork, and the hospital hallways were beginning to feel slightly oppressive to him.  But when he thought of what it would be like to be in the empty house, he didn't want to be there.  To smell her in the air, knowing that the scent would only fade with time, leaving him with only the intangible memory of her presence, slowly dissipating over several days, seemed to him to be too much to handle at the moment.  But he didn;t want to stay where he was, either; in the building where she died, knowing that somewhere nearby they were washing her corpse down, preparing for storage until all of the funereal arrangements had been taken care of.  He felt his eyes watering, the first time they had done so in years, and the helplesness he felt at his own body betraying him to his emotions bothered him.  He hadn't wept since his own mother passed away silently in her sleep, seven years earlier, and despite all that had happened, he didn't want to now.

He buried his face in his hands, trying to stem the flow of tears before they began, breathing deeply of the clinical air that smelled of disinfectant and disease.  The hospital lights hummed overhead, and he was overwhelmed with a sense of emptiness.  Footsteps echoed from elsewhere in the halls, and the muted whispering of the nurse's station seemed to come from miles away.  There was only him, alone in the yellow-walled corridors, weeping quietly into his hands.  Alone.  

so very alone

Unable to stand it any longer, he stood, gathering his jacket, determined to leave.  Not to go home, but to simply be away from this place.  He walked up the hall, striding past the nurse's station on his way out.  "Mr. Madesor?" the nurse asked, reaching for a clipboard full of papers.  He waved her away, and kept walking.  He couldn't sign anything right now.  It would add a finality to the night's events that he didn't want to go through right now.  He walked to the emergency room exit, and glanced around the waiting room.  People waiting their turn, some visibly ill, or in pain, others looking just like he imagined he did, empty, broken, husks of themselves.  Filled with worry and shock.  he turned away from them, and pushed his way through the swinging doors to the rainy night outside.  Pulling his jacket over his shoulders, he strode out into the rain, passing into the night like a ghost, his tears hidden by the rain on his face.
I remember that it rained for years / And the blood, it left a stain