The Day You Should Have Died

Enter the man in the coat with the flowers. He's not supposed to be a man, but you can't control the way things work out. So this man comes up to the girl, and you can tell she works there 'cos she's wearing one of those outfits like a candy cane. She's a bit confused when he walks up, but like I said, nothing's going the way it was planned. She knows it can't be that Queen Supreme Brandy Alexander; that would require too much work. And it definitly isn't one of the Rhea sisters on their day off as they never take days off, and once again, that would require too much work. She takes one good close look at him and walks away. This is a hospital, after all.
This is one of those dyads when you wake up confused like you don't know where you are. You know you're not in a dream, but you can't figure out how this could possibly be reality. And when you do figure everything out, you wish you were sleeping.
This is how her day is going. She turns on her heels and a question is raised by each sharp click of her steps down the dirty linoleum hall floor. That is, until she reaches her first patient's room. Then it's proceedure. No time for thought.
There is a lady lying in the bed, frail and withering awaY, sunken-in eyes and wispy hair, just a hollow in the matress. The girl reaches into her apron pocket and settles into the chair beside the bed, preparing to feed the woman a cup of vanilla pudding. As she peels back the lid and digs the spoon into the disgusting creame-coloured mess, she says, “Your son is in the hall, waiting to see you.”
“Are you crazy?” explodes the woman. She sits up in the bed and pushes away the hand with the spoon. “How many times do I have to tell you, I don't have a son? I've never been to Italy. I'm not supposed to be a patient here! Look for yourself!” The woman shakes her empty wrist in the girl's face. Wrinkled and ugly. “There's no patient bracelet there! Nothing to keep me from opening the doors and leaving!”
The woman isn't supposed to be here, and she knows it. This doesn't pose any help for her, though. Who knew eveywhere was going to have a bad day? Her sad tale is she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Word of advice? Never hang around when you see escaped patients wandering about. Your credibility goes right out the window.
The girl looks at her with a confused expression on her face. It's her eyes. You always know if someone is crazy by looking at their eyes. The woman's eyes are deep in the hollow of her face and the girl's eyes are shaded by her cap. Her hands move to her apron pocket. The first thing she notices is how out of place she feels. And also that she has a face.
“But…I brought you Darvocets. And…and…plumbago lipstick… Her speech falters when she realizes she doesn't know what she's talking about. After all, there is no realtor, no sweet-talking Alfa Romeo, no Mona, no… leather-bound red journal.… But she does have a brother. This is why she can't figure it all out. She's still lost in teh confusion of when you wake up suddenly.
So she gets up and walks out of the room and down the hall. And there he is again. The man. With the flowers. As she looks at him in a dumb stupor, she hears one of those radio programs where people call in with their problems.
“'Your perception is all messed up'” the voice says. “'All you can talk about is trash that's already happened. You can't base your life on the past or the present. You have to tell me about your future…When you understand that what you're telling me is just a story. It isn't happening anymore. When you realize the story you're telling me is just words, when you can crumple it up and throw your past in the trashcan, then we'll figure out who you're going to be.'” There's no doubt. It's Brandy Alexandar's voice on that pathetic little radio from the ninety-nine cent store.
All of a sudden, the voice stops. The rustle of muslin ceases. The crackle and static of the radio continues, but life on the other end of the dial stops. The girl looks up quickly at the man. He's just a visitor…or is he? He's sort of tall, brown hair with sideboards and shaggy bangs, a solid frame…nothing out of the ordinary. His hand still holding those repulsive flowers in the same position is starting to unnerve her, though. She walks closer to him and looks into his eyes. She doesn't raise her head, but she looks into him. And suddenly she knows. She understands.
“You have the lullaby, don't you,” she asks. “The culling song. The one that kills everyone when read or thought. That's what happened, isn't it. You thought it and they died.”
“You do catch on,” he says. He tosses the bouquet of flowers to her and her reaction is slow, but she catches it, flower petals gliding to the floor. She never notices his eyes are normal. “I brought you these for your funeral. It wasn't the least I could do.”
“I don't understand…“ she says. Her voice is faltering. She's lucky she has a voice. She should feel special that by some rebound miracle, she's not one of the patients herself. Too many nuns trying to couple all the cripples together. Now she notices the white suit bleeding on the floor over by the door. Brandy Alexandar. Or at least an expensive knock-off.
“Apparently so,” he replies. “Look, I hate to be the one to break it to ya, kid, but you're not supposed to be here. You know too much. You've seen too much. You've inferred things no innocent person should even think of. So…here's to you, kid.”
She looks at him for a moment, not comprehending. She never notices Brandy Alexandar's life story written on the wall. Maintenance will have to pain over it, which means Juan and Chrystione, the maintanance boys, will be coming. Tell them “hi” for me. She falls to the floor and her striped outfit is a nice effect next to Brandy Alexandar's white suit. Like I said, nothing is going according to plan. Then again, does it ever?

Samantha Conner ©2005