I thought I’d post another of my Meandering Thoughts – a short piece of writing that has never before been seen outside of my living room:) This piece, which I call Castles in the Air was written a few years ago as an exercise in free writing in present tense. I hope you like it!
CASTLES IN THE AIR
He stirs as awareness returns but he simply rolls over, sliding further under the covers. Then he thinks he hears a sound and slowly he peaks over the top of the bedclothes.
“Hi there, sleepyhead,” the man says – John says.
He’s fairly sure his name is John. He likes to think of him as John. For a moment he’s happy, he’s always happy when John is there. But he never stays. If he closes his eyes, John will most likely be gone when he opens them again. So, not surprisingly, he is afraid to close his eyes. John rises from the chair by the window and walks over to him, smiling.
“It’s okay, I’m here. You know I’ll always be here for you.”
“If only that was true,” he says. John takes his hand and squeezes.
He can feel it, John has to be real if he can feel it, doesn’t he? Providing he is real of course.
His eyes feel heavy. No! He doesn’t want to sleep, not so soon. He tightens his grip on John’s hand.
Drifting awake again, he wonders how much time has passed. He realizes his hand feels cold. It lies outside the covers; he’d been holding John’s hand. Gingerly he opens his eyes. There’s no one there. He feels tears prick his eyes. He should’ve known. Damn it, he had known; that was why he ‘d tried so hard to hold on to John’s hand. John is his only anchor, without John’s strength he is adrift.
The door opens and the nurse asks breezily as she sweeps in, “And how are we today, Martin?” She takes in his appearance and clucks at him. “Come on, things are not as bleak as that.”
How would she know? It is so easy for her. She takes his temperature and checks his blood pressure. The door opens again and a tray of food is shoved onto his overbed table. He turns away, ignoring it. The very idea of food makes him feel sick.
“Come on now, you know you have to eat,” the nurse coaxes.
“Don’t want it,” he mumbles into his pillow.
With a theatrical sigh, the nurse says, “You know the Doc will not be happy with you.”
He just shrugs.
“Well, I did warn you. I’ll have to put this on your chart for the doctor’s round later.”
He just snuggles lower and lets himself drift. Perhaps John will come back.
He hears the rustle of paper and quickly opens his eyes. John is sitting in the chair by the bed reading a magazine. When John realizes he is being watched he drops the magazine and, smiling, takes hold of his wrist, absently rubbing it.
“How are you feeling now, Martin?”
The love he sees in John’s eyes warms him as nothing else ever can. His eyes dart to the door; surely it must nearly be time for rounds and visitors can’t stay during the doctor’s round.
“It’s okay,” John says softly, “It’s almost half an hour until it’s time for her rounds.”
He sighs with relief and holds on to John, afraid to let go.
“I miss you,” John says, “It’s too quiet at home.” The smile fades and John looks very serious. “Say you’ll try, do what the doctor tells you. I know it’s hard but please…” John stops speaking and lifts his free hand to wipe the tear that has spilled onto Martin’s cheek. “Don’t cry Marty, I’ll wait for you, however long it takes, you know that. I just want things back the way they should be.” John caresses his cheek and he leans into the tender touch.
“I will, I promise,” he says. “I’ll do anything for you, anything to get my life back and spend it with you.”
John kisses his temple and says, “Rest now, you look tired.”
He wakes when the door opens to admit the doctor. Other than the two of them the room is empty. He feels bereft.
“Don’t be upset,” the doctor says softly, obviously recognizing the signs. “What is troubling you?”
The nurses always talk about the doctor in a threatening way, but he always finds she is gentle and kind with him. Perhaps it is because he is so ill, he ponders.
“John never stays long enough. I miss him all the time. I feel so much better, stronger when he is here,” he admits.
“I know. I understand how much you need him. But, Martin, you must understand that as long as you allow yourself to rely so greatly on another, you will never really be well. As wonderful as it must seem to be able to lean on someone as caring as your John, you need to find the strength in yourself, to figuratively stand on your own two feet so you can walk out of here. Surely John wants that? For you to be able to go to him on your own?”
“Yes.” He smiles. “So I can go home where I belong.”
“That’s right,” she says, stroking the hair back from his forehead. “You need to let him go, so you can find your way home to him,” she adds softly.
She moves back a pace or two and slips the hypodermic needle into the port on his drip, watching as his eyelids begin to droop and finally close.
He feels reality slip away and he smiles knowing he will dream of the time when John comes to visit again.
The doctor watches the once brilliant, charming man fall asleep, suspecting he will dream yet again of John, the man he loves.
She sighs thinking how sad it is that Martin feels so lost, so alone that he has to create an imaginary companion, someone who has become so important to him that Martin can no longer separate fact from fantasy.