“You don’t say much, do you?”
He sat on the edge of the hospital bed and smiled politely at the efficient looking nurse, who stood clipboard in hand at the foot of the bed.
“Alright, Mr…” She flipped the pages back, “Mr Grey, the doctor will be along in a couple of minutes to go over some things with you.” He smiled again. The nurse clicked away and soon he heard her friendly voice buttering up another tremorous patient.
Idiot! Where was all the nice polite and friendly chit-chat? Man alive. And she was pretty too and nice. Brown eyes like a deep pond. Man! You could have said thank you at least or something. Thank you, nurse, for your help. I was quite nervous coming in today but you have taken away some of the nerves. Oh, and I like your eyes. I mean that would have been better than nothing?!
The orderlies wheeled him along the white-walled corridors - sweep shish- the wheels trundled along efficiently from tiles to carpet to elevator floor and then back to carpet to tiles. The large windowless doors of the theatre swung open. The smell of disinfectant and cleaning fluid smacked his nostrils harder than before.
This could be your last moments Grey. The last entry in your thoughtful journal. How does it feel to be thoughtful but talk-less? Frustrating. Gosh, I wish they’d push slower, I’m not in a hurry to get sliced open; that’s the third time they bumped into a corner. You know what they need is one of those large mirror things that they put on weird angled roads - so you can see what's coming before it actually comes. Good one.
“Alright Mr Grey,” the orderly on the side of the bed grinned at him, “I’m going to need you to get onto this bed.” Jack slipped out underneath the covers, his hands grabbing the hospital gown to make sure he was decent.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered from this angle,” the orderly grinned. Jack sidled onto the hard plastic covered board ’ and smiled cheesily at the orderly.
This guy grins too much. His face muscles must be really strong if he grins at everyone like this every day.
“So I’m just going to put this needle here into your arm,” the orderly grinned again. “I hope you don’t have a fear of needles.”
No not usually, but now that you mention it… Rats and bananas, that's a spear!!
Jack glanced down at his arm and watched fascinated as the long glinting needle dipped beneath his skin. “All good,” the orderly muttered, glancing at some monitors and drip bags behind Jack. “ How are you feeling?”
How am I feeling? Man! You just stuck a spear into my arm. Oh my… gracious goodness. I am burning! My arm is burning!! I could punch you right now. Hard.
Jack smiled weakly and the orderly grinned “Okay, that is good, alright see you in a while, sir.”
Jack settled back as best as he could. His eyes roamed over the white walls, the hospital gown, his large bare feet (were his toes turning slightly blue? ) and then focused on the large white clock ticking deliberately on the wall. 1 second. 15 minutes. 7h00 hours. 2 seconds. 15 minutes. 7h00 hours. 3 sec-seconds. 15- 15 min-minutes. 7h00 h-hours. 4-4-4 seco-deds?
Where am I? Wait, who am I again? What am I? Why do I feel so weird? Oh goodness, those lights are really, really bright. People, please stop talking - I’m going to be sick, yes I’m going to be sick. Nooooo don’t move me. Not so fast! Stop, please. Stop moving. Stop the lights. Stop talking. Stop. Stop. Stop. Please just stop.
“Hello Mr Grey, I'm just going to check your blood pressure okay?”
The world seemed hazy and surreal Jack leaned forward trying to decipher the voice - trying to, trying to-and then it clicked.
“You’re the nurse that was here before right?” His own voice sounded alien to his ears: high pitched and horse. “Yes, you were here before and I was an idiot and didn’t make nice polite small talk. I’m so sorry. Sometimes my tongue and brain don’t seem to connect and I just sit there and smile. Like an idiot. I’m stho sthorry. Youth so nwice and purdy. I sthorry...wike an idiot.”
The nurse stared at him, cuffed him and took his blood pressure.
“I’ll be back to take your blood pressure again later. Would you maybe like something to eat sir?”
Jack grinned big and wide. “Nowth that’s a good idea. Youth are just the type of person to have good ideas. I luf a grilled cheese and ham sandwich. White bread. Theddar cheese. Thmokey ham. All thoasted in one golden thandwich.
Jack settled back into the high but hard hospital pillows. The sandwich hadn’t been excellently good but not damnably bad either. He muttered and clucked away to himself, “ No, no they just need more time to toast the bread. Such nice people here. So nice and friendly. Professional and kind. You don’t get that everywhere.
“Hello! Thlovely thay in the thospital isn’t it?” The cleaner burned down with ‘cleaning stuff’ turned to look at Jack who grinned with a laughing light in his eye. “I’d guess so Mr,” the cleaner growled and began to move on. “Packth all your troubles in your cleaning bag and smile, smile, smile!” Jack sang after him. The cleaner stopped and turned around again, looked keenly at Jack, shook his head and kept on moving.
It was the efficient nurse’s voice that called Jack back from the blissful realms of sleep. “Yes mam, he went in quiet enough… No… But he came out very chipper.” The rest of her words were drowned out by the torrent of words coming from a voice too familiar to Jack to be mistaken.
“Oh, he’s always been a chipper -healthy boy. Quiet, but definitely ALIVE and chip-per!”
A cloud seemed to have fallen over the ward; the room became grey, oppressive and stifling. Suddenly the curtain was whipped back, screeching along the metal ceiling rails. Through his eyelashes, Jack met the bright eyes of his sister, Nancy.
“Come on Jacky-boy, rise and shine. I’ve come to rescue you from this ‘vile place’. Haha. Get the joke?” Jack glowered.
“He’s always been so, so afraid of hospitals. Isn’t that right Jacky-boy? Absolutely loathes them. I had to drag him- yes drag him here this morning. But here we are, all hale and hearty. And they said you were a good boy? Good, good. Ready to go? Do I need to help you?”
The nurse stood there for once her efficiency swept away by the inexhaustible torrent spilling from Nancy’s mouth. Jack lay there unsmiling.
Why won’t you just shut up Nancy? And stop bossing everything, including me around. Just give people a chance too, won’t you? Gosh, I could die right now. Her voice. Oh and that chewing gum. I should have wished to die when I was going into the theatre instead of clinging to life. God, I’ve changed my mind, I’d rather die than be here right now.
And then out of the corner of his eye, Jack caught sight of the cleaner. He was leaning on his mop, a slight smirk overspreading his face. Jack saw the look and promptly sat up.
“ Nancy, shut up.”
The spewing of words from his sister’s mouth abruptly stopped. Jack looked at her in wonder, “ I should have said that years ago. But to the point. I can do my own talking. I am quite alright. Just a slight headache from all of your talking. I shall be ready to go in a few minutes if you will just give me some privacy. Please go and wait in the car. And please stop chewing that gum, its disgusting in a grown woman.”