C3, a sere riverbank of the River of Life. The old women abandoned fish groaning, gasping for a last breath, minute by minute losing moisture, lustre dimming, lie abandoned in the ward-room. Water, tepid in plastic carafes, is available on their bed-side tables but largely untouched – doled out by an attending nurse, whenever and if she remembers they are unable to pour a cupful for themselves. The vases on the windowsills contain disheveled flowers and need their water changed, their shrivelled offerings removed.
First order of my chores this morning – remove the vases from the room, then remove and replace the water jugs with fresh ones. I move along the aisles between beds with a rolling cart collecting these. The lady who sings every morning sits on the side of her bed, her spindly white legs swing in tempo with “Camptown Races” she warbles in her reedy soprano. She grabs my hand and makes me dance beside her, swings my arm up and down, smiles and looks pleased with this contact. I grab her carafe with my free hand as she lurches me around like an unwilling dance partner. Then she releases me and grabs an end of her bed-sheet which she swishes like a trailing large scarf. I like her. She brings a note of life to a largely passive group of unidentified women huddled in their uncomfortable hospital beds.
Mrs Mah, some distance away, seems more faded today. She looks smaller than she did yesterday,her already tiny arm seems ready to lose her increasingly large plastic bracelet. i know her name. i have checked her chart hanging from the foot of her bed a couple of weeks ago. She doesn’t speak English, but seems to want to say something to me whenever i come nearby, whether to wash the floor, tidy her rolling table or change her drinking water. Increasingly, daily, she has yellowed, her fine pocelain skin has become wrinkled parchment – yet her eyes, clouded as they are by the morphine she is given, shine like polished black pebbles at the river’s edge. She reaches out to be touched. I hold her hand, although i am not supposed to touch patients. i hate the thought of coming in one day and not finding her steady gaze on me as i work near her.
Unedited, but such a challenge to write. This prompt, like all of the others posted on Red Ravine for practice, can be revisited many times and is a good way to explore possibilities in writing practice. Thanks for the opportunity, Red Ravine!