For the first time in our lives we can afford to go private. I expected to be eaten up by guilt, knowing how bad the other system is. But being in this room is like walking into an expensive New York coffee shop.
There are flowers, beautiful paintings, leather chairs and soft music. On the wall is a plasma screen and the bed looks so comfortable. Just one foot in the door and I'm as relaxed as I would be in a hotel.
The hospital room is more like a garden, how many things have changed in the past thirty years. The roof is clear giving an impression of being outside and once in a while a butterfly will alight on a nearby leaf.
I could feel my blood pressure dropping and my eyes swell up with pain; suddenly I collapsed on the nearest chair. Moments later, I wake and see a doctor tending to my wounds.
“Hi my name is Dr Jack Cartwell and I will be looking after you for the next few days” said the doctor. I could see his jet black hair, which swept across his face, his big hazelnut eyes radiating compassion.
Jack Cartwell, that name sounds familiar. Suddenly, I remember where I had heard that name. Panic overwhelmed me. Oh no. It can’t be.
This can’t be happening
I remember the day as vividly as anything else; I was around 18 years old and studying in Memphis College of arts. It was a day off and I was home alone because my parents had gone to Miami
Running towards the door, I saw a young boy on the front porch. Holding a worn out plate he was covered in grease and soot like he had just been down a chimney. His hazelnut eyes shone agony. Tattered like scrap paper, his shirt was ripped apart.
The blood stains on his fingers screamed with pain. His forehead was crinkled up like an old newspaper. Wailing furiously, the scars dug deeper into his skin. His black hair was smothered with ash.
I opened the door.
“Hello I’m Jack Cartwell; I’m hungry please can I have some food ma’am” said the young boy.
Tears started running down his cheek mixing with the soot and ash; his lips trembled. Pervading into his skin like poison, the cold was piercing into his skin. Shivering wildly, his body couldn’t stop himself as cold struck his feeble body like daggers.
However, I didn’t feel any compassion towards him; he didn’t deserve any food. He should work hard for his food like all of us do.
No” I growled “you don’t deserve it”
“Please ma’am” he whispered quietly. Tears started flooding out of his eyes; his body trembled with fear.
At the time it seemed like the only thing he did was beg for food and he should work for his money instead of asking it from other people.
I wish I would’ve helped him.
I slammed the door right in his face; his eyes gave a sign of hatred and pain. That was the last time I ever saw him.
There are times my brain fries up; I just wish it wasn’t today. There are no excuses I know; I own my behaviour.
Regret washed over me like the long slow waves on a shallow beach. Each wave was icy cold and sent shivers down my spine. How I longed to go back and take a different path, but now that was impossible.
There was no way back.
There was no way to make it right. I know that remorse would eat at me up every day of my life. I envy the pebbles, hard and lifeless, unable to feel the torments of life. I tried to forget. Leave the past behind. But I couldn't do it when I saw him from the distance walking towards me; I don’t think he forgot who I was.
That was how I felt at that very moment. I wished for a Time Turner so I could go back; rectify the mistake - the worst of all I had done.
However, I could not.
I had to live with it. Remorse etched at my heart. Guilt gnawed like a worm at the core of an apple. A tear trickled down my cheek, memories flooded into my mind.
I couldn’t bear the guilt any longer; it was swallowing me up.
“Do you know who I am?” I stuttered.
His face lit up; his eyes darted and examined my whole body. His shallow breathing echoed in my ears.
“Yes” Jack mumbled quietly.
I clutched onto the nearest chair and held myself steady.
Selfish. This is how I would describe myself.
“Please come and take a seat ma’am” he uttered.
Why was he being so nice to me?
I sat down without any hesitation; his office was lit up and I could see a photo of him when he was young; I couldn’t control myself and tears started to flow through my eyes like a river escaping a dam.
He crouched down next to me. His hazelnut eyes stared into mine. They didn’t have any anger or hatred in them; instead they were compassionate.
“I’m sorry. I should’ve given you some food that day” I sobbed
“Its fine” Jack responded.
Then, he started telling me about his life. How he used to be a poor, malnourished boy who would work at the diner till late; he didn’t get any food because his dad was an addict. The scars on his arms show when he was beaten up by his dad. He showed me a scar from when he didn’t get enough food and his dad started beating him up. Unfortunately, his mother passed away when he was young and there was no one to protect him from his cruel father and on his 20th birthday his father passed away from lung cancer.
I feel terrible.
“Is there anything that I could do to make amends for my mistake” I asked
“No” he answered.
After doing my check-ups he told me to wait outside. Then I suddenly remember that I would have to pay my bills; they would cost me a lifetime salary.
I ran outside and collapsed on the nearest chair. Regret engulfed me. His face was spinning in my mind. My limbs went numb and my face started to tense up like I had aged about 20 years.
“You can go now” said a nurse. “All your check-ups have been done”
“What about my bill?” I asked
“That has all been taken care of” she replied.
“Please can I go and see Dr Jack Cartwell” I asked
“Yes” she replied
I ran toward the room and saw him.
“Why did you do it?” I questioned. He immediately understood
“I did what I had to do. I don’t hold grudges nor do I do things out of hate” he said
“I’m so sorry” I stammered.
I ran towards my car not looking back; I couldn’t bear to see his face.
I never forgot that day ever.
After that I went to the homeless shelters and donated food to the poor; their faces lit up with joy. All the time I couldn’t stop thinking about the boy on my porch. His hazelnut eyes were looking at me whilst his scarred hands were begging for food. As much as I tried I couldn’t forget that moment; it was going to haunt me forever.
I have to make this right and I have to pay my debts.
I have to make amends for my mistakes.