Blue-Tinted Rooms This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 20, 2017
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The room was tainted blue with silence. An old man sat in a waiting room chair too small for him, his back straight, his ocean eyes trained at the beige walls. This man’s name was Patrick. Beside him was his son, Matthew, with the same sharp eyes, tapping his foot nervously. They were waiting for Matthew’s wife.

The doors to the hospital wings opened wildly like unhinged shutters in a storm. Matthew stood up quickly. The man stared at the wall.

“The baby’s okay,” Diane whispered, breathless as if she has been running. “You hear, that, Matt?”

“We’re going to be okay?”

“We’re going to be okay.”

He pulled her into her arms and held her tightly, so close that she could smell pine on his shirt. Matthew smiled into her hair.

Diane took a step back, her right hand still loosely intertwined with his, and held out a photo.

“Oh,” Matthew said, his voice shrinking into his throat. “I’m going to be a dad.”

“Yeah, you’re going to be a dad.”

Matthew sat next to Patrick, in the too-small seats, and pressed the sonogram into the older man’s sun-worn hands. “Look, Dad. I’m going to be a dad.”

“Yeah,” Patrick answered. He rubbed his thumb over the swirling white lines of the photograph that resembled hurricanes. It was strange, to think that it was the first glimpse they would ever get of a human being who wasn’t even real to them yet. “What are you going to name the baby?”

Matthew looked over at Diane. “Patrick, for a boy. After you.”

“And for a girl,” added Diane. “Her name would be Siobhan.”

The old man sighed. He tried staring at the beige wall to stop the tears, but his eyes kept finding the sonogram again, and he began to cry.

“Siobhan,” he said finally. “That’s a beautiful name.”

They all fell into silence, Diane staring at Matthew, Matthew staring at Patrick, Patrick staring at the photograph of a girl who would one day be known to the world as Siobhan.

Only Patrick knew, as he cried in that blue-tinted room, that the cancer was spreading from his stomach to his lungs to his brain, and he knew that he would only get to see his granddaughter in a foggy, unclear sonogram.

He cried and cried and cried, because he knew.

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