First Draft Theater – Hospital Rooms

All the hospital rooms began to bleed together in Lee’s mind.  They all the same aggressively beige color scheme with the pale blue, green, and pink accents.  The all smelled of medicine, bodily fluids, and disinfectant.  Donna lay to his right sleeping, occasionally muttering to herself.

How many times have I seen her sleep?

He kept his eyes on the vitals monitor on the other side of the bed.  Lee had little idea what much if any of the numbers and little squiggles meant.  It still comforted him somehow.  As long as the monitor was active it was not over yet.

Another in a line of nurses came in to check Donnas IV and monitors.  She hovered for a few minutes checking, adjusting, and tweaking only acknowledging Lee with a nod just before leaving the room.  He wanted her or her eyes to tell him something, be it good or bad.

It was the waiting, the certainty of the uncertain that wore on him. They all knew the end was coming.  The doctors couldn’t tell him when and the nurses wouldn’t even if they could.  All that was left was the waiting.  They watched it come towards them, but they didn’t know how fast it approached.

He needed to call her kids.  Lee needed to tell them how close the time was now.  Jaime and Carl both lived a couple of hours drive away and would be here as soon as possible.  Donna actually talked to them last week.  Lee watched and listened to the conversations from her side.  She avoided telling them exactly what the doctor had said the day before.

“What did you want me to tell them?  They already know enough to guess.  Believe me, when you call them, it won’t be a shock to either.”

Lee didn’t know how long he had been asleep, but the monitors were screeching and nurses and doctors were rushing in to the room.  He stood from his chair and was shuffled out to the hall.  He watched them work for a few minutes before wandering down the hall.  He drifted past the nurse’s station and found the stairwell.  He turned to look back and could see the urgency at Donna’s door had quieted.  He opened the stairwell door and stepped inside where the faint smell of stale cigarettes and compressed moist air greeted him.

The only direction he could go was down and he took every step deliberately keeping his cell phone in his left hand and his right hand on the railing.  He lost track of the floors.  He just stopped at one to get some fresher air.  He came out of the stairwell and looked around.  It was like a version of hell.  The floor looked exactly the same as the one he left.  He quickly went back into the stairwell and looked up and down to be sure he had come from somewhere.

He continued his decent until he reached the lobby floor.  He walked out into the small lobby of the hospital.  The lobby desk was unmanned and it was dark outside.  Lee realized he didn’t know what day it was. The window in Donna’s room looked out onto another building blocking the sun.  The front door was locked.  If you were in, you were in until the morning shift started.  He looked around and saw the little garden area off to the left of the lobby and the chapel on the right.  He headed left and found himself standing outside under mercury lamps.  He looked up and strained his eyes trying to see the stars through the glare.

His right hand ached.  He was still squeezing his cell phone.  He turned it on and found Jaime’s number.  He would call her first.

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