Passing the Baton

December 25, 2008
By Naomi Hernandez, San Diego, CA

He could remember nothing but the girl that he had sat next to in the hospital the last time he had been. He did not remember why he had sat there, or why he was in the hospital in the first place, but he remembered the girl with such acuteness that he could describe it as if it had been mere hours rather than a few years.

He remembered the bright eyes of that girl, it was the reason that the memory of her was there in his head at all. She stared at him with huge doe like eyes, and he just stared back. They were so bright, like lamps with stars in them. No. Rather, they were stars that were very far away, so far away that they were in their own galaxy, away from this world. Stars could not see so far as into this world, he had reasoned, so they did not see him. She was blind.

“Hullo,” he had said, his voice raspy and unused-sounding.

She stared unseeingly, and he continued awkwardly, “My name is Jacob, what’s yours?”

His question had been met with silence and he had frowned at the girl’s unresponsiveness.

“Hey,” he was again met with silence, in which his frown deepened into a scowl.

“I know my voice sounds funny but that’s no reason to ignore me!” he had snapped.

The girl turned her head away and smiled serenely, much to his irritation. He had pulled his arms back in preparation to shove the girl cleanly off her stool to pay for her rudeness, only to be stopped midway by an understanding nurse.

Clad in her white uniform, the nurse had kindly explained to him, “She doesn’t mean to ignore you, she lives in her own mind most of the time.”

His eyebrows had wrinkled up in confusion and he had replied, “Excuse me, but can you face me. I usually can read lips very well, except that your head is turned at an angle like that,”

The nurse had apparently looked taken aback, and answered, this time facing him fully and mouthing each word clearly, “She cannot hear you, that’s why she‘s in her own world a lot of the time.”

He nodded in understanding. She was also deaf, just like him. Then he watched as the nurse took her hand and traced words upon it with her finger. The stars in her eyes seemed to fly closer to where he was, and looked at him for what seemed to be like the first time. She had stuck her hand in his face, in which he had flinched away, and stared as her fingers started wiggling into odd positions. The nurse had taken in his confusion and gently pulled the offending hand away from his face. As rapidly as she could she traced words across the girls palm, explaining that he did not understand the strange hand language. Upon that, the girl fumbled with a pink bag that lay at her side, pulling out a piece of crinkled paper and a pen. Writing on it for a moment, she silently handed the paper to him. It read in messy scrawl in which some letters overlapped slightly or seemed much to far apart:

Hi Jacob M y name is Melody Its nice to meet you.

He had grinned in satisfaction, and the nurse smiled and said kindly, “Now that you’ve met I’m sorry to say that Melody has to go now.” He saw the nurse trace the last words into Melody’s palm.

Melody nodded and hopped off her stool, but not before scribbling some last words on the crinkled sheet. She had received one last smile from him, a smile playing of her own face, the two stars dancing and twinkling. The nurse gave one last sympathetic look toward the two of them, before guiding Melody away.

It was at this part of his tale in which he had stopped speaking completely, and merely smiled a tired grin. His voice was at its end, I suppose, so I just looked at him with a sadness in my eyes, but he was not done in yet. He shakily held out to me a piece of crinkled paper, he was not sure if it was there at all, and just grinned. I took it from him, and he closed his eyes and sat back in his hospital bed with a serene expression.

I spread out the crumpled paper and read the faded ink in which the messy scrawl had some letters overlapping and some very much apart:

Hi Jacob my name is melody its nice to meet you

Today is my last day in the hospital im glad I made at least one friend before I left don’t forget me ok I’m melody the girl that’s finished with this disease!

Underneath her writing was what I recognized as Jacob’s handwriting from all the times where he signed his drawings:

Im so happy, my last day is this Friday., I hope I see melody wherever all those kids whose had their last day go! Whoever gets this next can you pass it on, don’t forget melody and jacob!

My eyes softened as I looked back up at Jacob. He was done with this disease, too. As I stood up, a nurse bustled in looking melancholic.

“Another one gone,” she sighed, “This disease has no mercy, stealing away the children’s senses then shutting down the brain completely…It happens so fast that the children almost don’t know its happening,” she sighed again.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” I said softly, “Children are much more than we see them to be,” I took another look at the paper clutched in my hand, “Do you know another room where a child is afflicted with this disease?”

The nurse looked surprised, “Yes, but why?”

“I’d like to pass the baton…”

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This article has 1 comment.

on Jan. 3 2009 at 6:54 am
Just a bit of typos and fuzzy-ness, but overall it was a great, sentimental story. I find your descriptions very...uh, descriptive and they paint nice pictures for the reader. nomhnomi


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