Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

It Takes A Hospital To Kill A Child This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

You should be used to the smell of hospitals by now, but you’re not. Even though your mother is a nurse, even though your father is a paramedic, even though your grandfather spent the last five years of his life moving from hospital to hospital, even though you were raised by an emergency room, you aren’t. Hospitals still smell sharp and acidic, like too much disinfectant trying to cover up the smell of dying, of flesh rotting off bones, of blood staining white coats, of open wounds. But they will never really be able to hide all of that, and you will never be used to the smell of hospitals.

You should be used to people dying, but you’re not. The first time you see someone die you are five years old, and you don’t really understand whats happening. You just know that your mother told you stay at the desk and color, you just know that she is helping people, you just know that she told you not to look, you just know that five seconds ago that man was breathing and now hes not. The second time you see someone die you are eleven years old. You are sitting at that same front desk when a woman is wheeled by on a stretcher, thrashing back and forth and gasping for breath. A nurse is shouting something about open heart surgery, your mother is attempting to hold back a screaming man, and suddenly everything stops. The woman stops moving, the nurse stops pushing the stretcher, the man stops fighting, the people stop staring. The third time you see someone die you are sixteen, and you are wandering around the emergency room trying to forget the sound of your grandmother screaming. You look up to see a man take his last breath. You don’t know what was wrong with him, you don’t know who loved him, you don’t know why he had to die. And somehow, this hurts even more. You feel like you should not have seen this private moment, this silent loss of life. You feel like you owe it to him to do more than just watch him die and then leave. But that's what you do, because leaving is all you know how to do these days. You will never be used to people dying.

You should be used to how haunted your mother looks, but you’re not. You should be used to the look in her eyes that says someone died today, to the tired slump of her shoulders, to the tremor in her voice, to the way she blames herself every time. Almost every day for the past ten years she has come home looking broken, looking lost, looking hopeless. But for so many people, she is the only hope they have. She saves so many lives, but she can’t save them all. And she is crumbling under the weight of the people she feels she let down, but every morning she goes back. Becasue there are more people to save, there will always be people needing to be saved. You wonder when someone will save her. You wonder when someone will tell her that its okay, that she can rest for a little while, that she’s done all she can. You would tell her yourself but your voice is too small to reach her anymore. You will never be used to how haunted she looks.

You should be used to the sound of a person breaking, but you’re not. You still flinch every time someone starts screaming at a corpse, every time someone starts sobbing like they will never be whole again, every time a doctor tells a family someone has died, every time a nurse says there’s nothing more they can do. You still cry every time you hear a child asking someone to just open their eyes, their voice so confused and innocent and hopeful. You still have to leave the room every time a mother finds herself holding the lifeless body of her child. Some things just never get easier. You will never be used to the sound of a person breaking.

It will take you an entire piece to realize that you are constantly being broken and haphazardly stitched back together, that half the time you smell like a hospital, that you are slowly dying, that there is nothing more they can do, that your mother will never stop blaming herself for not saving you in time.



Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

perpetuallydancing This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm
I'm so glad I found your work. This gave me chills. It is beautiful and tangible and it cut through my heart. Thank you for this.
 
Laugh-it-OutThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm
Omg i am sorry but you are amazing. this is simply, purly, wow, i am speechless. i felt every word. perfect structure, rawa and so filled with emotion. you have a gift, a talent, a blessing. I would love if you could take a look at some of my work because you are amazing and i would love insight from smeone as awesome as you thanks! and again 5/5 stars!
 
Site Feedback