The shallow pale linoleum floor reflected the room with a hollow faded glaze as the world beyond the doorway appeared to fall back into dark depths of white and beyond that all I could do was imagine. I pictured the same blank corridors running on and on but never leading anywhere.
I had spent the last four months isolated as a prisoner between my bed sheets as I had been diagnosed with a rare heart defect, so rare that according to my doctor, there had only been roughly five cases ever reported. He seemed amused to have been the doctor who would be reporting the sixth. Unfortunately I didn’t share his enthusiasm towards the likely conclusion to my life.
Day after day I’d lay restless cradled by the glowing walls that surrounded me. I was constantly contemplating the probability of my life after the operation. I had never been able to find comfort in the expression of my emotions and had therefore managed to detach myself from almost anything that came my way.
I found the hospital ceaselessly humbling as I watched lives, minds and families fall to pieces all around me. I could imagine the victims that lay suffering around me leap at the opportunity that had been forced upon me. The opportunity to die.
I had been on the heart donor list for three weeks before I was at the receiving end of a situation involving a bullet and a teenager who shared the very same blood type that I did. I decided to worry about the end of his life after I was sure I wasn’t about to join him.
I felt like a piece of machinery as I was hooked up to a symphony orchestra of monitors and life support machines. Each and every metallic box gave off its own individual click or beep allowing the atmosphere to accelerate my detachment from civilisation. I stared blankly toward the surgeon as he explained the procedure. He had done so each day for the past week which was reassuring because he seemed to know what he was doing. Eventually once I was ready to go under, a mask was placed over my face and I was asked to count back from ten as somebody flicked the switch allowing the gas to enter my system.
Ten, I had to force my eyes closed as it appeared my body was reluctant to let go. Nine, I began to feel pins and needles surge through my body from head to toe. Eight, my eyes were getting heavier and no longer fought to open. Seven, I could no longer feel any attachment to the operating table. Six, the noise around me died down to a gentle hum. Five, I felt increasingly comfortable and found impossible not to smile. Four, I felt as if I had left the hospital, the atmosphere around me had completely transformed. Three, a warm light fell upon my eyes, making them reluctant to open. Two, was it over? Had it all passed that quickly? Was it a success? One, was I still alive?
I opened my eyes to find myself staring into a serene sky hanging above me. It was illuminated by a beautiful sun and iced with the lightest clouds I had ever seen. I was hesitant to climb to my feet but eventually I did. The world around me was full of colour and life, the earth was coated in emerald green grass and was peppered with beautiful flowers. The scene was vaguely reminiscent of a painting that had hung over the fireplace in the house that I grew up in. I didn’t understand what was happening to me or where I was but for once in my life, I had no questions to ask. I allowed the atmosphere to seep into me as I surveyed the landscape. No words could do it justice. I couldn’t help but feel at home as the garden seemed to welcome me in all aspects.
My gaze flitted helplessly across each unique creation of perfection until it was caught on something occupying the ground before me. I took a step back from what appeared to be the shadow of a figure but there was nobody there to cast it. The figure lay motionless.
After what felt like an eternity of silence I heard a soft gentle whisper, “You should not be here.” The words echoed within my mind sliding back and forth, resonating throughout me as they became louder and louder. It felt as if they were pounding the walls of my skull, struggling to break free from me. The sound tormented me to the point that I collapsed to my knees holding my head in my hands with my eyes pinned shut and let out a scream for mercy. I forced every last breath in my body into my plea for freedom from the torture until I lay breathless upon the now unforgiving barren rock earth.
The sound lead me right to the brink of insanity and just as I braced myself before falling out of my mind, it all froze. It all died down to nothing more than a scar upon my thoughts.
I once again opened my eyes to find myself somewhere new. I was sitting in a blank room occupied by no more than a table and two chairs. The white glowing walls gave off a soft hum as if the entire room was constantly vibrating. “Hello?” I called out, only to find myself unanswered. There was no door to the room, no sign of entrance or exit so I gathered that whatever had brought me there was sitting across the desk from me, watching and waiting.
“I know you’re there, I know you can hear me.” I said gripping a tone of conviction within my words as I stared into the air above the chair opposite me. Once again I received no reply initially but after a moment of silence, the chair budged slightly, letting out a painful squeak across the floor. Suddenly I could hear footsteps pacing the room in front of me. Eventually they stopped and the following silence left me hanging from the gallows waiting, almost begging for this to end.
What had begun as a feeling of freedom from complexity was beginning to feel more like isolation from answers. Answers to the questions that at first were meaningless to me but now they had become my reason to hold on. They were the only thing I could be certain of because everything else had fallen between the cracks of reality, lying hidden beneath the surface of what I could smell, hear and feel.
Before I had time to reflect on anything the floor opened beneath me and I was left descending into darkness, into emptiness. The void I had been caught by reminded me of my life and how I had allowed it to release everything I had ever been given a chance to hold onto. Regret swam through my body as if electric current was coursing through my veins. I’d be lying if I had told myself my life was perfect but I had never considered it entirely empty, never, not until that moment and it was at that very moment that out of the darkness beneath me appeared a solid linoleum hospital floor rising rapidly towards me as I fell.
I closed my eyes and felt silk tears glaze my cheeks as I heard myself whisper, “Goodbye.”
As the ground hit me, it sent shockwaves throughout my entire body squeezing a gasp from my body and forcing my eyes open. I found myself staring at the end of a hospital cot, surrounded once again by blank walls.
At the foot of my bed was a bouquet of flowers that appeared to those I had seen earlier. Attached to them was a piece of white card, upon which I saw no signature or sign of who had sent them but then I stopped and felt myself overcome with feelings that I could only describe as indescribable as upon the centre of the card lay the words “Something to hold onto”
I allowed a smile to break across my face as I lay back into my bed with no thoughts of confusion, merely blissful clarity. I couldn’t begin to understand what had just happened but I didn’t need to.