Holden With a Twist

“Are you a relative of Mr. Caulfield’s?” I could hear the nurse ask someone down the hall. I tried to get up and see who it was but there were no goddamn windows in my room. All hospital rooms have windows because after all, we are specimens. Sort of like helpless animals caged behind bars at zoos. We had gone to the zoo together once, me and Jane. It was kind of a date, but we didn’t call it one. I even bought her a hot dog, but she still hadn’t shown up yet to see me. The point is: patients are objects of pity and amazement, neither of which I want to be.
     So I sat there, looking stupid with my arms full of stuff phony people who didn’t even care about me had bought - flowers that were probably extra when they were buying for their daughter’s Sweet 16 or placing vases around the house, and store-bought get well cards with cheesy puns and cartoon animals, and I realized that I don’t want to be “Holden Sickness Caulfield”. And you want to know what sucks? Once you fall “sick”, you’re not a person anymore - you ARE your illness. No one wants to have a normal conversation anymore, it’s all “see him” and “check up on him”. Not that I’ve never been disrespected before, oh I have, but this was different. And I wasn’t sick. I didn’t have a “condition”. I told the nurses and the doctors and my parents that I was fine, but every time they told me to stop talking and get some rest. That’s another thing - if you’re on a hospital bed, they don’t believe you.                     At some point, all the thinking about this world and its stupid people made my head start hurting and I decided I needed a smoke. My pack was hidden under the mattress, and the nurses weren’t supposed to check up on me, whatever that means, for another hour. Just as I was lighting the cigarette I heard the faint squeak of the sterilized handle turning, and before I can put everything away I see two pairs of shoes. The sharp, black formal shoes approach me and say “Feeling better, buddy?”, and the whole time I’m staring at his feet but I know exactly who he is, and I know exactly who she is too. Purple, thick-strapped sandals and a silver anklet. I’m still looking down, waiting for her to say something. He proceeds to tell me about how great their goddamn lives are and how happy they are together and all that bull, and just like that, they’re gone. Stradlater and Jane were gone.                   How I wished I hadn’t heard that. You know, even as a kid, I always locked the door of my bedroom. People say there are two types of people: glass half full and glass half empty, but I say there are three: open door, closed door, and locked door. Open door people are fools really; they let people into their lives without any judgment or evaluation, setting themselves up for heartbreak, and no doubt these Stradlaters, sorry I mean strangers, disappoint them the next day. Closed door people, like Phoebe and Jane,  are smarter - they put some thought into their relationship with you but they still end up hurt sometimes. And well, locked door people are the wisest in my opinion: if you don’t let anyone in, you won’t get hurt. Plus people aren’t worth it anyway.






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