Hospital Bed This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

August 31, 2011
“You have grown up to be so beautiful. When I look at you, I am reminded of the sweetness of youth. I lived in the city with my mama and papa, and I was beautiful too. I truly was. Do you believe that, darling?”
“Yes, I’m sure you were… radiant.”

The old woman continued staring at the young lady sitting in the chair next to her bed. She glanced at the young and uneasy hands, curling and unfurling in her lap. The old woman took her long silver braid and ran her fingers down it, recalling her chestnut waves and how they looked in summertime. She unwound the loose twists and reached for the silver brush on her bedside table. As she reached for it, her hands shook clumsily, knocking the green and orange bottles of pills to the marbled linoleum floor. The woman at the bedside carefully rearranged the medicines on the table, making it look as if nothing had fallen. Putting the pieces back together. She gave the hairbrush to the old woman, noticing the surprising baby softness of her hands as they brushed against her own. She thought how softness of that degree could only be achieved at either the beginning or end of one’s life. She looked down at her own hands.

As the elderly woman began to work the brush through the silvery threads draped down the front of her nightgown, the young woman glanced down at her clipboard and made an effort to discretely leave the room. “Well aren’t you going to tell me how Dorothy is?” The young woman stopped in her tracks and apprehensively swiveled around to face the hospital bed. The patient’s eyes were wide with confusion, as if she could not believe that the other woman would possibly try to leave her alone.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Oh, don’t be shy! How is your Mother? Dorothy?” The young lady stuttered and pretended to be searching her clipboard for information while her mind rushed. She had to leave before things got worse. Beatrice’s medicines were fine and that was all she had to care about. She glanced at the windowsill empty of flowers or cards and the picture frame next to the bed containing only a pre-packaged photograph of a haunted-looking bear with the frame dimensions printed below. A tear fell from her cheek and hit the rose-tinted tile. As if being torn away by some curious invisible force, she turned and walked out of the room at an alarming speed. The nurses chirped worriedly as she broke into a run and pushed open the emergency exit at the end of the hall.
Anne had only been trying to make her rounds. It was her first day on the job.





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