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Hospital Room

Never before has he seen the pristine white of a hospital room. He opens his eyes and closes them again. There’s so much white, too much white. He associates white with purity and this makes him uncomfortable. He moves his eyes without moving his head, taking a quick look at the woman next to him. She lies there, pale with a soft red scratch on her face, if scratches can be soft. She looks helpless, almost like those bunnies he encountered on his morning jogs. She looked like a baby. This made sense, because he thought of her as a younger sister. Unfortunately, she was in love with him.
Something is wrong, but he does not know what. It is like that specific word that cannot be remembered in conversation – everything goes on normally, but there’s a feeling of uneasiness until someone remembers that word. “Oh, I remember! I was trying to say ephemeral!” It had happened just a week ago, and as soon as the word was remembered there was comfort again. But in this instance, what he is searching for does not come to him. He lies there feeling incomplete, not even attempting to move.
He finally paid attention to where his eyes were gazing. Camilla shuddered slightly and woke up. His mind eventually made its way to the obvious question. What was he doing in the hospital? This was what he was searching for. He just knew that if he found out he would feel complete again. He attempted to ask Camilla, but nothing came out of his mouth. He tried again, and this went on for about two minutes until he heard her whisper.
“Are you feeling okay?”
He knew he could not answer, so he did not say anything. His eyes just stared blankly ahead and she was worried. Well, she was always worried. She squished him. Not literally, but he felt contained when he was with her. The saddest part of all was that he knew she loved him. He just chose to let it go, giving her the details of his latest conquests and watching as she smiled and nodded, pretending not to care. It was easier that way, pretending he didn’t know. It was easier for both of them. He was a horrible person; at least, he thought he was. This was perhaps why the white of the room bothered him so much.
When he saw and heard the doctor, he immediately knew why he was lying down in that irritatingly perfect bed. Camilla sat up, but he could not and, again, did not try. He heard the doctor tell Camilla the details of his condition but he only listened for a few key words. He heard car accident and paralyzed, and that was all he needed to know. He would never walk again. He would not be able to take care of himself.
The doctor asked Camilla about Jacob’s financial condition. Jacob…the name felt so foreign now, like that feeling he got when he put on a new jacket for the first time. Even though it was his, it felt stolen. Camilla corrected the doctor with a smile. “Jake,” she said. That was better. It felt less foreign now, more like he was borrowing the jacket of a friend. He did not need a name anymore. He knew he could not move, and it was not as if he’d be meeting anyone new. What would anyone even use it for? Jake. He was useless.

Jake’s mind slipped to his girlfriend at the time. The moment he knew he couldn’t talk might as well have been the moment they broke up. His mind, sharp as ever, flashed back to the doctor and Camilla.

“Well, that’s it then?” the doctor said. “You’ll have to take classes, you know. Are you positive? You’ll have to do everything for him. You won’t only have to spoon his oatmeal into his mouth; you’ll have to help him swallow it. You have to dress him, bathe him, and he becomes your fulltime job. I understand you have more than enough funds for both of you – that’s fortunate.”

Camilla nodded again without hesitation, not even looking at the now nameless entity lying helplessly in the bed next to hers. He was the baby now.

Any other doctor would have asked her multiple questions. Any other doctor would have questioned her motives. This doctor was different, though. She had picked up on Camilla’s slight smile when she mentioned the word “paralyzed.” There was a reason that there were no tears coursing down Camilla’s cheeks. As sick as it may sound to those that will never understand, this was her dream. Camilla watched the doctor leave the room as the nurse entered.

The doctor’s heels clicked on the elevator’s floor. Most others would have judged Camilla for what she had just observed, but the doctor understood. She had been in love once.




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