From Fearing to Hearing

December 1, 2010
His mocking tone is unsupportive; efficiently multiplying the humiliation she already feels. His lips open to expose his teeth as his eyes track her movement down the hall. The man’s laughter is an attempt to ease her stress, unintentionally pushing her heart to the edge from embarrassment. Her guardian angel has appeared in the form of a nurse; a young spirit with graying hair and gorgeous mahogany eyes. The angel’s skin riddled with dots and crevices shows years of dedication to her work. The hands are still diligent and careful, the arms still strong, the torso still flexible, and the legs still sturdy. The nurse’s uniform is a simple blue, practical and efficient with small pink stitching around the wrists and ankles. This is her guardian, her leader through what awaits at the end.

She assists the timid child steadily down the hall, offering forth whispers of comfort and a firm arm. A subtle English accent mixed with a calm demeanor is the only indication of her childhood. The girl’s legs are bare and her back is visible through the untied opening in the gown behind her. The exposure to so many people is unnecessary as her heart thumps in her chest. As the nurse leads her down the hall her gown trails softly behind her. A sudden breeze flutters her dress. Preoccupied, she grasps the edges and continues her search. The gown is the standard, stiff, grey material that itches around her neck. The polyester was not created with comfort in mind. Her delicate feet are padding softly on the freezing ground as she makes the painful journey down the hall.

Every one of her frail limbs yearns for the comfort of her mother’s arms. She feels like a baby bird, pushed from the nest for her monumental first flight. Her wings are not ready, and her head is not clear as she thinks back to her mother and father. Their wishes of good luck and reassurances have no lasting effect in her ears. They are skin deep, only scratching the surface of her worries. Her worries leak down into her core, as her insides form a knot. The fear she feels is eating at her stomach, burning deep inside her heart, as her thoughts race. Her mind is uncontrolled as she walks down the hall, eyes darting from every object.

This hall is large and wide with beds lining the walls on both sides. Even the width could not account for the presence and placement of so many mattresses. They have offered her one of the many wheelchairs, but she prefers to walk and count her steps like she has for so many years. Mind games, that is what her mother has called them, counting steps and tracing lines, distractions, what she would do for a distraction. A diversion from her thoughts, something that could serve as a place of haven. Eyes darting from white wall to white floor, everything is white, brutally plain. The walls are fresh snow without a smudge of dirt, sterilized by robots moving up and down the corridor. A conundrum to her thoughts, perhaps she has found the distraction she craved. White is the color of snow she has never seen; white consumes her every thought as she looks down. The floor is tiled, white clean and efficient to allow for maximum success. The linoleum is frozen ice under her feet, making her wiggle her toes. The machines are white with small lines and lights she could never understand. There is a repetitive beeping sound continuing as if its wish is to give her heart beat a voice. This sound does however bring some comfort; it is a sound she can hear in a tone she has not lost awareness of. If this works out she will be able to communicate with friends and family; she will be able to learn what she never could.. She wants this to work so much; she wants to be able to hear the birds in the morning. Her restriction has affected every aspect of her developing life; this curse has changed her life.

This walk has lasted an eternity, fear courses through her veins. There is a change, an unwelcome shift in color, as her guardian leads her into the room of metal. In the middle of the room is a metal table, a firm crucifix prepared to lift her up during the operation. The straps and restraints are unnecessary for she will not be awake. She trembles, finally allowing the tears to flow over the curves of her face. The room is changing before her eyes, taking on the images of her fears. The light is a spider prepared to drop over her; the monitors are robots waiting for the signal to attack. The number of nurses is increasing exponentially, warm bodies in the cold atmosphere. She presses against her nurse who unceasingly pushes her forward. The stagnant air tastes similar to vinegar, unforgiving and clean. There is a smell of blood and cleaning alcohol that will never be removed from the walls. The walls are painfully shiny and closing in on her as she makes her way hesitantly toward the table.

They hoist her up onto the platform and begin placing cold circles on her. The doctor enters in a slow procession, venerable and confident. He has taken on a new form, a white ghost covered from head to toe with a new skin of rubber and plastic. He is calm while she is stressed. He is assured while she is confused. He is comfortable while her skin is exposed to the unbending metal. Her only brace is a mere white towel to support her neck without impeding the doctor’s progress. To her left is a table of tools, sharp, menacing, and prepared to stab into her delicate white flesh. Needles of all sizes look over at her, sending shivers down her spin at the thought of them entering her skin. On her right is a man with a large white mask that smells vaguely of vanilla; her favorite scent. He has told her that she needs to breathe in deeply when he puts the contraption to her delicate lips.

By her side her trusted companion rests, fluffy and worn from years of playing. If her dog could talk it would tell tales of fields and sunshine, not the metal it now sees. She is terrified as she grips the familiar fur, they will not be separated. The small memento is the only thing she has as the magnitude of people shuffle about, gliding across the floor in anticipation. Their eyes show sorrow, as if they have already begun to mourn the small girl’s loss. She concentrates on a spot above her, one small dot on the ceiling, an imperfection to ponder while she waits. Her final moments are a flurry of activity; the vanilla scent enters her nose as the shapes morph together like a swarm of dark bats wings. Her hearing is already gone, now she has lost her vision too as the wings form a shield over her restless eyes.

She awakes with a ringing in her ears, and a brilliant light shinning down upon her as she struggles through the haze. Instinctively she cringes away, shielding her face and moaning at the unwelcome brightness. Her lungs are angry, pushing against the powder that once calmed them, forcing her to fight the dizziness as she sits to cough. At any time she will throw-up, it is inevitable, the only guarantee she receives. The guardian has returned, talking in soft tones as she pushes the child back against the bed. She has brought a peace offering, a Popsicle and some water.. The patient is allowed a moment alone to prepare for her journey home. As she hastily dresses she forgets to stop and listen with her new ears. The moment of truth has arrived, but she is still suppressed by the drug haze. She stops when she hears a soft sound. She hears the ticking of a second hand from the black clock, a sound she has not heard in years. The tears flow down her cheeks and she sits back against the bed relishing in the sound. She smiles to herself as her mother rushes in to help her get dressed.

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