A Hospital Bed

Posted: August 12, 2011 in #fridayflash, Short stories

He awoke to the noise of sirens, yet again outside the window, his eyes unfocused and adjusting to his surroundings.  He could hear a commotion outside the bedroom door, the clattering of a trolley and footsteps rushing down the corridor.

He lay still for a few moments, allowing his ears to do the work of all his other senses.  He listened as two female voices; nurses he suspected; stood nattering by his door. 

“Well Dr Jones said it didn’t look good.  He said it was only a matter of time.”

Toby listened carefully.  Were they talking about him, he wondered?

He heard the other nurse sigh, “It’s a shame and so young too.”

Toby turned over as best he could in the old creaky bed, nestling his face in the pillow.  It wasn’t as comfortable in here than at home.  The pillows were soft but dense, making his nuzzling unfulfilling, nor comforting. 

He’d arrived in the A&E less than twenty four hours ago and had already witnessed a man pronounced dead on arrival after a collision with an oncoming vehicle and a small baby born prematurely, ripped from its mother and put straight into an incubator, unable to breath by itself. 

He was glad they’d found him the room to himself, but with the commotion outside and the added furore in his head, he had about as much chance of getting any sleep as he did winning the lottery, which was a slim possibility considering he’d never bought a lottery ticket in his life.

He looked down to see blood stains on his gown, which made his stomach lurch.  He felt a sharp stabbing pain from the emptiness; not even his stomach lining had managed to survive that last eruption of his abdomen.  He hadn’t been able to keep anything down all day, not even juice. 

The unnatural light, from the busy cubical areas outside, shone through the internal window to his room.  It felt probing and intimidating.

The longer he lay in the foetal position, the smell of clinical antiseptic, fresh bandages and old cotton sheets filled his nostrils, the nausea and dizziness began to erupt in his throat.  A metal tasting salvia filled his pallet.  As he reached for the kidney shaped bowl, made of recycled cardboard, the door opened and in walked Dr Ashton.

He was a tall man, with freshly shaven face and short charcoal coloured hair.  His face was almost lemon shape, with a well proportioned nose, green eyes and perfectly levelled ears.  Toby assumed he was in his late forties, as he had mentioned earlier that day of having worked in the hospital for nearly twenty years, starting off as a third year student on working experience.  His stethoscope looked slightly lost hanging round his flannel shirt collar.

“How you feeling Toby?” Dr Ashton asked quizzically.

“Rough!” Toby said squinting from the penetrating added light, blazing through the open door.

“I think you’re one of the most extreme cases I’ve ever seen.”

“Its not good is it?” Toby said gradually sitting up in the bed.

“No not really, but as I said earlier, we can support you here if you want to fight this.  But only you can make that decision Toby.  We’ll respect whatever you decide.”

“I think I want to go home,” Toby said looking at Dr Ashton for reassurance.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t do more Toby.   If you change your mind, come back and see me.”

Toby nodded and turned his body round so his feet dangled down the side of the bed.

The Dr patted him on the shoulder.  “Go home and think about it lad.”

Dr Ashton and the Nurses were all bustling around the admin desk, as Toby emerged from the room.  He said goodbye and walked sluggishly out of the double doors from the Emergency room.

“Well there goes another one,” the nurse said to Dr Ashton, as she stacked up a pile of patients folders.

“Yes.  It’s a shame,” Dr Ashton said as he looked up from the computer screen, as Toby got into a taxi waiting for him outside, “I thought that one had real potential.”

The nurse laughed, “It’s one thing to be a high flying-academic in medicine; it’s a completely different story when you begin the practical side of things.  Wanting to get into emergency medicine and suffering from Hemophobia are not a good combination.”

Dr Ashton shook his head, “Surprised it’s taken until now to realise how severe his condition is!”

  1. John Wiswell says:

    Huh, I’d never read it “foetal position” before, but the dictionary backs it up! Neat.

    I wonder what he’ll do with his realizations.

  2. xoxowords says:

    i really like your style of writing. (:

  3. FARfetched says:

    Quite a twist there at the end! All along, I was wondering if he had stomach cancer or bulimia, and he just can’t stand the sight of blood. That *was* strange, that he’d manage to get so far along in his medical education before realizing it.

    A&E, is that the UK equivalent of the ER (Emergency Room) in US hospitals?

  4. Helen says:

    I thought he was ill right up until the conversation with Dr. Ashton, then I guessed – still a good twist to a tale nicely told.

  5. Sonia Lal says:

    Good story! Though he had some serious illness or something! LOL

  6. ~Tim says:

    There goes a man seriously in need of career counseling.

  7. Chuck Allen says:

    Poor guy. I thought he was deathly ill or something. Time to find a new career to pursue, huh? Nice twist!

  8. Tony Noland says:

    Ouch. That’s like a wirewalker being afraid of heights. I would have bet you were going for a zombie angle… nice twist!

  9. ericjkrause says:

    Good twist! That’s why I never even considered going into the medical field. Enjoyed this one!

  10. Agh! Got me again! I was coming up with all sorts of odd theories what the twist would be this time, from Toby not being human (early on I was going to guess dog at a veterinarian instead of human at a hospital) to the doctor somehow being responsible for his condition, but never once guessed he wasn’t mortally ill. Really amazing work how you can give us the perspective of a character that knows they’re going to live and leave us surprised when that fact is made clear at the end.

  11. This made me snort for a long time.

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