My eyes opened trying to take my surroundings in. People raced along the corridor outside the room. Their footsteps banging on the floor below them. I turned to see if I was alone in the room. I was.
I lifted my arm to find tubes attached to the back of my hand, the cannula inserted into my vein carried fluid through the thin tube to administer whatever it was I needed. The blurriness began to clear and my eyes were drawn to the many monitors recording my vitals. As each of my senses were awoken, the banging of the ventilator pumped oxygen into my nose dominating the room. The sounds of the machines that kept me alive.
I tried to move myself up in the bed but nothing happened. My legs felt like glue stuck to the starched sheets below me. Was I paralysed? I couldn’t lift them an inch. My hand slid down my thigh. Nothing. I felt nothing. First one leg, then the other. Still nothing. My blood pressure rose as the thought of not being able to walk again enveloped my mind.
An old telephone sat on the bedside table beside me too far for me to reach. A vinyl chair placed on the other side disinfected, ready to take the backside of the next worried visitor. The off-white painted walls supposedly designed to be restful for the patient did nothing for me.
My eyes tried to stay open, but my eyelid muscles took over and they closed. Was this really happening or was I dreaming or had I had died?
Two men in white appeared either side of the bed. I hadn’t heard them come into the room. As one rolled my body toward him, I felt the pat slide go under me from the other with the feeling of being dragged from the bed to a trolley. I must have died and I knew where I was going. I was being taken to the mortuary down below in the bowels of the building and placed onto a cold stainless steel table waiting for the funeral director in his black suit and sombre look to come along. His hand would hold his clipboard with his paperwork and name tag ready to place on my wrist from that moment on, making sure I was the right person.
There were others in the room with me, but their faces were covered. Why was it that I could see myself? My colourless face devoid of any life.
Where was that light, the one everyone assumes is going to take you up and away to a better place? I didn’t want to go to a better place. I wanted to stay here.
Further along was another lifeless person, this one stark naked laying on the table, the sheet drawn down to his feet about to be removed completely. His extinct body exposed the result of the endless burgers and fries he’d consumed over his lifetime. It was too late now to worry about that diet.
A tall slender man dressed in a blue gown covering his jeans and tee-shirt walked into the room. His red loafers announcing to the world or at least the other hospital staff that he was trendy. He wheeled a small trolley table over to the deceased man. The mortician picked up his scalpel to make his first cut. Did he not know I was watching?
His autopsy went on without a blink.
“Can you not hear me? Are you deaf or something?”
Nope! I’d yelled, but his disregard indicated I’d made no sound.
Man, this is no good. By the looks of it, I think I’m gonna be next. I couldn’t look anymore, I faced the other direction and tried to block everything out.
All I wanted was for someone to come in and take me back to my room. I didn’t wanna be dead. I was only 47. Who dies at 47? I had a wife and two girls to take care of. How did I die though? I couldn’t remember what I was doing when it happened. I know I went on my motor bike yesterday. Did I drop the bike or worse crash into an embankment? I don’t remember. I don’t think I did. I remember riding along a narrow country road with the wind blowing across my open-faced helmet. Sunnies shielded my eyes from the sun and the bugs.
I know I got home last night though. I remember the girls ran to me as I walked through the door, them yelling ‘Daddy’. They had to beat Deefer every day as he tore through between their legs almost knocking them flying. I remember his furry little body jumping madly up into my arms licking my face incessantly and not wanting to share my love with anyone but him. Then he let Casey and Phoebe hug me. I loved being a dad and I loved being a husband. My wife Raina, would saunter down the hallway toward me allowing time for my hugs with the dog and kids in that order and took her place last. She didn’t mind though. I grabbed her arm to bring her into the fold and enjoyed what I called the Beauty of Life. The Fam.
So why was I here? What had happened for me to lose my life? How could I lose the precious things I loved so much? Tears filled my eyes and my emotions ran wild. My head turned as someone pulled my arm. I tried to pull away.
“It’s OK Mr. Ryan.”
The gentle female voice came from a nurse in white. “I’m just taking your blood pressure. It looked a bit high earlier. How do your legs feel? Are they still numb?”
Glancing from side to side. I was back in the hospital room. “Yes, yes —” I said, as my voice peetered out.
“Don’t worry, that’s completely normal after a hip replacement. It will wear off in a few hours.”
by Sen Mack (1000 words)