The hospital was loud this night, probably an accident. As I walk through the halls like a ghost, I realize this is a terrible place to be. All the chaos that ensues, quiet frankly, is too much for anyone one person to endure, and yet, these people do, all the time. I feel a pull towards the room to my right, and know that I must enter, no matter how badly I would like to walk in the other direction. Placing my hand on the door, I see a glimpse of my reflection, a dark grey suit with a lighter grey shirt.
The door opens and the bed comes into view, a child in the bed, couldn't be more than 14. As I walk over to the end of the bed, my presence has grabbed the girl's attention.
"Who are you?" she asks curiously, a little maturity in her voice.
I grab her chart from the end of her bed, and look it over, Paige, not even 14, I sigh as I place the chart back on the end of her bed. I make eye contact with her, she has very beautiful blue eyes, and she brushes her blonde hair to the side as I make my way to the side of her bed.
I'm struggling on where to begin, "my name is Felix," I say with a small smile.
"Hi Felix, are you a doctor here?" she asks looking at my suit.
Obviously not, "Of sorts," I say, half truths, "What have you been told? About your illness?" I ask, hoping they have been truthful to her.
She looks out the window, "That I don't have long," she said.
Not much emotion, "Paige, you need to express emotion, otherwise people will believe you are actually doing fine." I say, hoping not to upset her.
She looks down and fakes a smile, "Its all I can do, I don't want them to worry about me, since I'm gonna kick the bucket anyways."
I look out the window, "acceptance is good, but how can they not worry. Regardless of you outward expressions, they are worrying; it might make them feel better to know that you haven't shut yourself away. That you are still alive, that you are afraid."
She looks up at me, and I turn to meet her eyes, "we all die alone, that doesn't mean we have to live alone." I say to her, hoping she understands.
She is tearing up, and nods her head. "Is your mother around?" I ask standing up, "I'm sure you two have quite a bit of talking to catch up on."
She smiles, "She went to the cafeteria."
At the door I turn to see her, "Would you like to tag along? Or shall I bring her to you?"
She nods no to the former and yes to the latter, her gaze shifts to the window. I walk out closing the door behind me. The walk to the cafeteria seemed longer than I thought it would. Upon entering the cafeteria, I spotted a woman sitting alone.
"May I join you?" I ask, placing a hand on her shoulder, with as kind of a face as I can manage.
She looks up and shrugs. I take my seat across from her; her food has all her attention. I take the time to observe her; Paige looks just like her, blonde hair, blue eyes, fair white skin, but the mother's skin is full of worry, bags under her eyes.
"My name is Felix," I say to her, hoping to get her attention.
She tilts her head; as if she is trying to remember something she had forgotten. "Why does that name sound familiar?" she looked up at me, I now have her full attention. In the few moments it took for her to look at me, she made a realization.
"I knew your brother Ryan," I said to her, "we were good friends."
Her head sinks again, "right."
"We need to talk about Paige," I say to her, grabbing her attention once more.
"What about her?" she asks, defensive.
I sigh, "She needs her mother," I say, stating the obvious and standing up. "Can you walk with me?"
The mother feels to heavy, and I help her up. She gasps as she looks at my hands, pulls her hand away. "What… What are you?" she screams looking at my face.
I raise my finger up to mouth, asking her to be quiet. She closes her mouth, "please relax," I say, understanding how impossible that might be. "Come," I say motioning her away from the cafeteria. Surprisingly she follows, "I will explain everything, in time," I say to her as she stalks slowly behind me, "But for now, just trust me."
"Alright," she says, now walking beside me.
We make it to her daughter's room, and enter. Paige is standing by the window, not noticing that we have entered the room. Paige turns around to see her mother she runs and hugs her.
I walk outside to leave to two alone. While I wait outside I look at all the people standing around in the hospital, wondering about their stories, about their lives.
The door opens, and the mother comes out, "Thank you," she says.
I nod, a motion towards the bench right outside the door of Paige's room. "I am, different," I begin to say.
"You're all bone!" she finally says. "In a suit! What is not different about that?"
I sigh, "As I was saying, I'm different, most of us would just drag you people along, I try and help, make the passage lighter, easier."
She looks confused, "I don't understand."
"Look around," I say, motioning around us, "This is a hospital, a very busy place, but…"
"No one is moving," she says covering her mouth, "Oh I gotta be dreaming."
"I'm sorry," I say lowering my skull head, "This is very much real. You've died Debbie, down in the cafeteria." I say sadly.
She is in shock, "No I, I just went to get some food, and…"
"You weren't hungry were you?" I say looking at her, hoping not to put fear in her.
Her mouth was open, but no sounds or words came out.
"She won't be alone, she has family, friends, she will be alright." I say to her.
She seems like she got punched in the face, "She's dying," she started to yell after standing up, "What part of that is alright? And now you're telling me I'm already dead?"
"Calm down Debbie," I say while standing up to her, "I'm giving you a chance to say goodbye, and I am telling you that she will be alright."
She takes it in, and calms down, "Can I?" she asks motioning towards the door.
I nod yes, and hope for the best.
After what seems like quite a while, Debbie comes out of the room, eyes red, but filled with relief.
"Come," I say to her as I motion back towards the cafeteria.
I open the cafeteria doors to the sounds of people rushing. There is a crowd around one of the tables. The doctors and nurses are trying there best to save a woman, trying to save Debbie.
"They can't save me, can they?" she asks sadly.
"Sadly no," I say to her with a heavy heart, "You died five minutes ago, in this hospital cafeteria, and nobody noticed until a minute ago."
"This sucks," she says tearing up as the doctors give up and pronounce her dead.
"Only because you don't know what happens next," I say, hoping my skeleton mouth could smile. "Come," I say to her with my boney hand outstretched.
"She will be alright, right?" she asks, looking for certainty.
"As alright as you can be, without your mother," I say to her, making her feel sad, "But alright nonetheless."
She forces a smile. "Time to go," I say. She nods, and I wave my hand, like pulling a curtain aside, a trail is there, dark with light at the end of the road.
"Can you tell me your story?" I ask her as we step onto the path. The curtain closes behind us and the cafeteria fades away. She takes her first step, "My whole story?" she asks quizzically.
"It's a very long road," I say to her, watching her notice my hands and face, lacking bones, and present with plenty of skin and hair.
"All right Felix, where should I begin?" she asks sounding almost carefree.
"From the beginning."