Higher than the sun.

July 9, 2014
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Higher than the sun.

I stood there, with my hands on my hips, a broad grin on my face and a twinkle in my eyes. This had to be the craziest idea I ever came up with, but in that moment I was invincible.
We were invincible.
All of us.
In this crummy, sweaty, hot, tiny nursing floor. We were invincible by having fun. Finally, death was on a holiday. Finally, we were allowed to be who we wanted to be, to pretend. Finally, there was no more crying, but smiles and cheers. Even Jeremy Fincher, nicknamed toiletface, was all smiles.
For a minute, I couldn’t say anything. I just stood here, watching the madness rave on.
Someday it would end, maybe even tomorrow, but for now we were higher than the sun.

“How’s this-?”
“What?” Nurse Kimmerine turned her flushed face in my direction as she searched for Jeremy’s pin through my closet. Jeremy stood beside her, arms crossed; face a bit red and glaring at me as I sat on my bed, leisurely.
“May I finish? Gosh! I just love your enthusiasm, Kimmerine dear, but let me get to my newest and finest proposal first.” I smiled keenly at her.
“Don’t listen, Kimmy,” Jeremy glowered at me, “He’s a spoiled brat whose crazy about the fungi that grows in the trash can down the hall and midnight TV. And I know he took my pin!”
“Uh, did not,” I simply said, “Anyway, let me go on with my letter: Dear Townsend-Rose Hospice for the weak and sickly, we the adolescence of the 7th floor demand a pool party right here in our very own home and glory. Signed Alan Timothy, which would be me, and friends. Then I would get everyone to sign their names here and we’d- Kimmerine, I think we could send this one all the way up.”
“Yeah, why not,” She muttered tiredly to me, and then turned to Jeremy, “I don’t think he has it, Jeremy.”
“He’s got to! He’s the only one doing things just to spite me and I hate his rotten behind for it! Just yesterday he froze my gold fish and the day before that while I was asleep he and the guys slipped my bed downstairs into the psychiatric unit-oh, it was just a nightmare to wake up to Bulky Betty and her smelly teddy bear and before that on Wednesday he locked me in a room with her! Kimmy-” Jeremy started anxiously.
“That’s nonsense. Everybody just knows that Jeremy told you to come here, because he wanted to see you again. He’s infatuated with you.” I winked at Nurse Kimmerine proudly.
“You take that back!” But his cheeks flushed.
Nurse Kimmerine simply smiled at the antiquated news and pinched his cheek softly as he gazed into her eyes.
She walked over to my bedside and ran her fingers through my hair, “I’m sure that pin will show up later today. I’ve got to go, alright? I’ll be down the hall if you boys really need me.”
“Wait! I want you, I need you!” I expressed.
“Oh, you just want feedback for your little letter.” She read through the disguise.
“Little?” I questioned.
Impatiently, Jeremy tapped his single crutch to get our attention, but I ignore it and so did Kimmerine. Nosily, and with his nose definitely in the air, Jeremy stood at my bedside to see my letter.
“Do you really think this will pass?” Kimmerine flipped her dark hair back and asked me cautiously.
“I don’t see what’s wrong with it.” I shook my head.
“A pool in the middle of the hallway?” She questioned me disbelievingly
“They went for happy hour every Friday and cigarettes after dark.” I reasoned.
“Alan, you’ve got to be more considerate. Not everyone thinks and behaves like you do.” She told me gently.
“Yes, the rest of us are sane.” Jeremy inputted.
I rose out of my bed and rolled my eyes, “Of course, what was I thinking? No one would like to do something stupid like that. It just wouldn’t fly. I don’t really have throat cancer, I just like to visit a whole lot. Death and dying fascinates me.”
Kimmerine rose and rest a hand on my shoulder, “Oh, Alan. I know the heat is intense, but summer just arrived. You’ll get use to it.”
“Of course, it’s the heat.” I mutter.
“Give this place time. You’ve only been here for 2 months. Don’t let this place adjust your life. You adjust it.” She told me.
I paused and looked over my shoulder, “Are you coming on to me?”
She threw her head back and laughed out loud. She continued as she walked out of my room. I glanced at Jeremy, who’s been quiet for a few seconds and saw him still digging through my closet with his crutch. When he saw me watching, he stuck his tongue at me and shuffled out the door.
I watched him with a smile for a minute then crossed my room. I went to the bathroom we shared and picked his Honor Society Pin out of the toilet with a cup.
“Guess his radar wasn’t on.” I remarked and set the cup on his desk with a smirk.
I turned when I heard someone playing the piano and limped out of my room following the easy, soft melody.
I see the head nurse of the floor and yell out, “Hey! Hey, Linnet! Nurse Linnet where’s that coming from, huh?”
She frowns at me, but replies, “The dining room.”
As I near her, I poke my head into the dining room and sure enough there stood a crowd of kids. Jeremy was closest to the entrance, he looked bitter and again his arms where crossed.
It was Sara, she was in the last stages of AIDS, but she was just admitted here a week ago. She was a pretty, pale girl of 17 from what she claims a family of none, but her dog. He died just a year before.
I walk through the crowd and sit at the bench with her.
Michael taps my shoulder, “Don’t disrupt her singing.”
Offended, I say, “I wasn’t gonna. I just wanted to know if I knew the song.”
“It’s by The Carpenters. It’s called ‘We’ve only just begun’.” She plays a fragment of the tune on the piano.
I watch her bony fingers glide magically over the keys as she closes her eyes.
I admire it, then say, “Well, I always liked B**** Don’t kill My Vibe by Kendrick Lamar, you know?”
“Are you serious?” Michael frowned at me.
“If you don’t like that song, something’s wrong with you.” I point my finger at him and say.
“No, it’s cool,” Sara defends me, “Music is here to reach out and touch you. Whatever it is. Sometimes I feel like I’m not here, this isn’t me and then other times I am, but I just don’t want to be bothered with.”
“Poor Jeremy, he hasn’t been touched by anything at all. No wonder he’s so heartless. Aren’t you, Jeremy?” I kid with him.
He growls at me as Sara begins to start up the song again. I elicit a great, big smile in encouragement and she starts to sing:
Before the rising sun, we fly
So many roads to choose
We start off walking and learn to run
And yes, we’ve just begun.
Sara resumes to simply playing the melody when Jeremy raises his voice at the sight of Nurse Linnet arriving.
“Oh, you’re here! This is the most terrible thing! Just listen, first, Alan, I know he did it, stole my pin! Everyone knows I just love that pin! Next, he goes out here with the rest of these kids and their disrupting everyone’s peace with that music! And he’s also planning to have a pool party next week in the hallway! Isn’t that hazardous!” Jeremy quickly snitches then sticks his tongue at me.
“Oh, thanks Jeremy, what would I do without you?” I rest my chin in my palm.
“Give me back my pin!” He snaps.
“Maybe you should join the nurses’ staff since you just love talking ever-so much. I’m pretty sure they have your dress size, your white stockings, the whole gear.” I roll my eyes at him.
“And about this pool party, Timothy,” Nurse Linnet strolls over to me, “Hand it over.”
“Hand what over?” I straightened my posture with my hands behind my back.
“Hey, you’re having a pool party next week? Can I come?” Michael asks me excitedly.
“You’re all invited.” I rise and announce.
The room fills with cheers as Linnet tries to silence us, tiredly.
Sara rests her arms over mine, “Hey, I would like to come, too, but when is it? I’ve got an appointment with my doctor-”
“There will be no pool party in the middle of the hallway in this Hospice.” Linnet puts her foot down.
“That’s not fair. The weather is right.” I challenge.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s dangerous and we can’t just all skip work and do it.”
I folded my arms, “Well, then you’re not invited.”
“Oh, come on, Linnet! It’s the perfect time to pull a stunt off like this! Everyone wants to. Everyone’s in a good mood and I’ve never been in the best health in my entire life! Besides, Rodney finally let up stuffing Jeremy’s face in the toilet. You don’t want to get him angry by this heat.” I reason.
Jeremy looks over at Rodney and scurries quickly away from him.
“Nurse, I have a say in this matter,” Jeremy starts.
“Well, don’t.” I roll my eyes.
“Yeah, Fincher, I’ve got a floor to run. Another time.” Nurse Linnet snatches the letter out of my hand and turns to walk away.
She pauses at the door, “Under no circumstances will there be a pool party in this floor period! If there is one, any participants and their leader-Timothy-will be dealt with consequences.”
She stepped out after that. We all sighed and groaned, tiresome. I was doomed to dwell in this heat for seemingly forever.
I just had to have that pool party.
Something inside me said we should.
The looks on everyone’s faces when they realized it wasn’t going to happen pushed me to do so.

It wasn’t a go, but that didn’t mean the plan was entirely over. Since the men in black wouldn’t fund our small pool party then things would just have to change.
In the wee, small hours of six in the morning the following week several gloves and plastic, head caps were stolen and filled with water; Michael sneaked into the engine room in the basement; stretchers were removed from their rooms; and 3 hoses were held captive by me.
Our party was a go.

I led the crowd of teens to the main hall on our floor in a pair of trunks at the stroke of 3 p.m. as a towel loosely hung around my shoulder. Confidently, my head was held high as I watched the nurses glanced at me oddly and what I was up to.
When we started to pass the main desk Nurse Linnet stopped me.
“And where do you think you’re going?” She asked me.
“Nowhere.” I shrugged.
“That’s right.”
She looked down at me, “In a pair of trunks?”
“Uh huh.” I nodded.
“Alright, where’s Fincher, he’ll tell me what’s up.” She demanded and marched down the hall.
“Good luck untying him, I did a first-rate job.” Rodney replied.
He set the stereo on the main desk and turned it on. The music flared throughout the hall and people started to groove and dance. Kimmerine popped up, flushed, but with a sly smile on her face.
Nurse Linnet narrowed her eyes into slits, “What the hell is going on here?”
I paused with a mischievous grin, “Okay, I’ll give! I’ll give! I’m just tragic with secrets! …We’re all planning to-”
“Don’t give it away!” Rodney shuts my mouth and I shrugged.
Linnet warned me with a finger and rushed down the hall.
“Okay, she’s gone! Let’s go!” I shouted out. The crowd cheered as warily the nurse aides’ began to move away from the hall.
I pulled out the hoses as Rodney got out the buckets and buckets of gloves and caps filled with water. One by one people began to grab them and have a water balloon fight.
I switched on each hose and began to fill the hallway up with water as Keera and Jamal ran down the hall covering the floor with a thick plastic covering, laughing.
Our party was in full effect when the sprinkles up above turned on.
The cool water splashed on my face as I shut my eyes and took a moment to bask in it. Somehow, the music slowed down for me and I saw everyone.
I saw them laughing their head off as they tried the water slide on their bottoms or with the stretchers; I saw them dance in the rain with their beer cans; I saw them throw water balloons at each other. Through the sprits and sprays it all seemed surreal.
And then I was crazy and I just had to join into all the fun.
We couldn’t be controlled, there was nothing they could’ve done to scare us in that hour and thirty minutes we had our party.
For a brief moment in our lives we didn’t worry about anything; we didn’t sigh when asked if we were feeling okay today; we didn’t get fed up with our guests when they wished they were in our shoes, because of the grants we often get; we didn’t worry about the bad news or good news that would at one point turn into bad news.
We were free.
I was soaking wet when the elevator light dinged and turned green and out came a few men in suits. We didn’t stop the music, but we did stop our playing to watch them.
At first they looked at us, confused, at all that was happening, but then they entered the closest room, Sara’s, and began to file through her stuff, picking it up and cleaning it out.
It was worst than a slap in the face, being reminded of where we are and of course…who we are.
Rodney punched the stereo and it stopped.
A minute passed.
Yet it seemed the time that elapse was stolen from us. We had realized something we didn’t want to admit.
One by one, soaked, we all returned to our rooms.
I paused at a picture of Sara by the trash can. I picked it up and pulled out the photo from its frame. I walked passed Nurse Linnet who fell silent with my head down.
This picture of Sara is so beautiful.
It would go nice with my collection.

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