Contest #106 shortlist ⭐️

9 comments

Fiction Inspirational Sad

It would be so lovely to go to an art gallery again. To look into the oil and canvas windows framed in gold. My window is framed in plastic, off-white and not quite as clean as it should be for a hospital. At first glance you would think it was fine, but as you keep looking you see that thin trim of dust, slightly too far into the crevice for the hurried cleaners to properly wipe away. The sticky remnants of something that was peeled off years ago in the bottom right corner, attracting fibers, making me itch to rub it clean. That would be weird though and I'm sure someone would tell me off.


The birds are busy today. Building nests? What else do birds do. They swoop and drive in and out of sight with such urgency. It makes me think of the busy city streets in the rain. The speed humans can move at when water is falling from the sky is impressive. I'd love it to rain now, that sound is the closest to romance I feel. I don't so much yearn to splash in puddles but I do love watching them form on the tarmac in the car park. I'm glad I can see the car park from here. People are drawn to car parks and I'm drawn to people. I wish the birds would slow down. Instead of providing something interesting to look at they flit by and momentarily block the sun. The random flashes of darkness are annoying. I'm not really sure why.


A couple are having an argument. If I could hear what it was about that would probably ruin it. I watch as arms are thrown around and they move like magnets to and from each other, drawn in to attack, backing away when challenged. I've watched so many car park arguments. This one seems desperate and hopeless. I don't think they are really disagreeing, just coming to terms with something. When people disagree they stand still, shouting firmly from their spot, pacing says 'I can't do this'. What 'this' is could be anything though. Maybe they are having to make the decision to turn off their child's life support. Maybe they are breaking up after knowing they have been drifting apart for a while. I secretly hope it's the latter. They embrace then both slip to the floor, I can't know for sure from this far away but I think they are both weeping. It's probably the former.


I try to imagine other hospital window views. I'm sure there are windows around the world that look out over oceans and mountains, woodland and desert. I feel thankful for my view. Trees are nice and all, but they aren't as interesting as people. The sea may stretch for miles but it would become a bit samey after a while. People are never samey.


I'm not sure if I love or loathe night time from here. It has it's virtues, the city in the distance twinkles, which is always pleasant to watch. The lights all feel like people, who feel like company. I feel less lonely at night. On the other hand It is the worst torture, not being able to go out among it. I love the crispness and the quiet of night time outside. Night time in here is the wrong side of dim and far too artificial. I imagine myself out there like I used to be, wonder if I ever will again, resolve to dance in the inky blackness if I ever get the chance. Hopefully on that day it will be raining too.


I wish I hadn't seen that. I feel guilty, which I know doesn't really make sense but witnessing indecency will do that to you. He fell hard, the old man. I think it must have been his daughter, the woman pushing the wheelchair and I knew it was going to happen before It did. They were on course to that pothole, the one that is virtually invisible and deceptively deep. I think that's why I felt so bad about it. I knew it was going to happen. I also knew I didn't have the strength to yell out a warning but that doesn't matter, I still feel the guilt. I watched the front left wheel drop suddenly and throw the man to the ground at horrible speed. I couldn't watch. I couldn't look away. His poor daughter, I felt her guilt too. It compounded mine. If I had been able to warn her none of us would be hurting. It really was vulgar to keep watching as a crowd gathered, a stretcher was bought. It became clear there was no way old man was getting up of his own volition. Whatever reason he was already heading into the hospital, was it now secondary to these new injuries he had suffered on my watch?


I woke up to the birds eclipsing the sun obnoxiously again. Too annoyed about not being asleep anymore to go back to sleep I ask the nurse to close the blinds. He does and now I'm annoyed again. I think I now understand that weird cat behavior where they meow and paw at the door until you open it and once outside immediately want back in. I spend a while wondering if reincarnation is real and decide that if it is I want to come back as a cat, bonus points, I can catch and kill those damn birds.


My favourite thing about my window looking into the car park is being able to see patients leave. It's not always obvious as people returning to their cars could just be visitors that I didn't see arriving but sometimes you can tell. A slow labored walk, on the arm of a loved one, pausing every few steps to steady themselves. A child skipping along, hand in hand with a relative it's clear they have missed and are excited to welcome home. Balloons tied to wheelchairs pushed by staff, exited tentatively at the car door. Men carrying a brand new car seat with a precious load inside and an exhausted woman in sweats waddling at his side. At the beginning of my stay seeing people leave felt like salt being rubbed in my wounds, but over time jealously subsided to hope and an admiration for all the people that managed to leave this place. Every one of them I see go gives me strength. I think about all the other windows above, below and adjacent to mine, looking out onto the same car park. One day, hopefully, I will be watched by someone in one of these windows as I move across that rain soaked car park. I promise myself that if that day comes, I'll make sure to look back and find that face at the window. And I will send them all the love and hope I have within me.

August 13, 2021 00:10

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9 comments

A.Dot Ram
01:46 Aug 21, 2021

And congratulations!

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Imogen Bird
11:33 Aug 21, 2021

Thanks! Congrats on your win! I didn't have much time to spend here this week so I need to catch up and get reading.

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Amanda Lieser
22:35 Aug 20, 2021

Imogen, I was entranced by this story. I thought it was such a great twist on the prompt. I particularly loved the description of the couple. You did such a great job capturing your character’s experience. I was absolutely fascinated by their backstory, too. Thank you for writing this story and congratulations on getting shortlisted.

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Imogen Bird
11:35 Aug 21, 2021

Many thanks 😊 I'm so glad this one captured something that seems to have resonated, must try and replicate!

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A.Dot Ram
04:34 Aug 18, 2021

Just wanted to express how much I enjoyed this. I admire your use of the word "samey". The way you observe people here is wonderful.

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Imogen Bird
11:32 Aug 21, 2021

Thank you so much! I wasn't very inspired and then I looked out a window and felt that's where I should go!

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A.Dot Ram
19:15 Aug 21, 2021

You've mastered the trick of writing when not inspired--using what you have and making it work.

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Alice Richardson
01:17 Aug 16, 2021

What a beautiful story. Well written. Enough emotion to keep interested but not too much to make it soppy.

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Imogen Bird
10:23 Aug 17, 2021

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. 😊

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