a required taste for the pretentious as all get out





you are here
July 28, 2004, 11:04 am

You don't like hospitals, but this one isn't so bad. It isn't the hospital you were born in, but it isn't the one where most of your family has died. There is a pleasant nautical motif with stenciled blue herons and Maryland crabs and murals; if you look out the window, you can see the Pat Sajak building, and whatever it's worth, that makes you smile.

What you're holding is a plastic container shaped like a lima bean; in it is about three tablespoons of bile. The bile is a deep, gorgeous green; the same green of a marble you had as a kid. It (the bile) isn't yours, but the woman's in front of you that is spitting into the lima bean container. You're holding it because your aunt can't bear to do it anymore, but you'd rather be watching Amazing Race so you can tell the woman spitting up bile how it ended when she's conscious tomorrow.

Nurses come in and out; they are clad in brightly colored scrubs, they have pleasant voices, and they are used to having to change the sheets when there's been an accident, or the sight of blood. They are patient and kind and demonstrate the type of cheerfulness that you have outside of this room that you can't show now.

You are shown how to operate some weird type of sofa-bed thing that is a far cry from your bed at home, but, you reckon, the bed this woman across from you is in is far less comfortable. She has wires in her nose and her arms and she can't talk too well.

You are left alone with her and the sound of the machines beeping, counting out her heartbeat. The beat is steady, and it reminds you of trains clacking in London where she has taken you several times in your past. Her legs raced yours down the Champs-Elysses in Paris; her waddle preceded yours in Hong Kong. These are the parts of the world she's given you, along with the Austrailia and Greece she gave your sisters, Japan and Jamaica to your cousins, and the home you live in now all together.

You haven't slept. She has barely slept. She once kept you awake in Hong Kong because she was talking in her sleep; now she cries out in pain or because she doesn't know exactly where she is, so you have to reassure her that she's okay, even though she isn't.

She tells you that she's so grateful to you when you give her a sip of water. She says you're so special for being there. You know it is and isn't true, but you're sure you'd give back the world and home if she could stand up on her own again; after all, wasn't it she that taught you to stand up for yourself?

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