I never liked hospitals. It wasn’t just because of their harsh disinfectant smell that burned my nose every time I breathed in. It wasn’t the fact that nothing good ever happened when you were there. It wasn’t because my father had died in a hospital. It wasn’t the doctor’s and nurse’s ability to act nonchalant while people -the people they “treated”- died under their supposed care. It wasn’t the ever-present feeling of death and despair that hit you like a wall once you set foot into the hospital. It wasn’t that, even though there were hundreds of people in the building, there was no sound, no proof of life, except for the occasional baby crying. It wasn’t that. It wasn’t any of that.
It was The Look that they all gave you. I would know. I had been a regular client at the hospital ever since I remembered, and I saw The Look everywhere. The Look that said, “I’m sorry, but I’m glad I’m not you”. The Look that said, “That’s the poor little girl who lost her father in a car crash with her in the passenger seat”. The Look that has them think that they’re being all selfless by giving her The Look, but in reality, they’re only doing it to make themselves feel better. The Look that, no matter where I went, followed her, haunted her.
I’m sitting on one of those hard, cold, metallic examining tables, waiting for the doctor to return and tell me what would happen. I picked at her blood red nail polish. Was it pathetic that the nurse at the reception and I knew each other and were on first-name basis? I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t living like any normal person, although it might look like it to anybody else. On the outside, I was fine, nothing new, nothing changed, nothing different, nothing abnormal. But the inside was a whole different story. I had Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, one of the many diseases acquainted with Autoimmunity. Her defence system was attacking her own body. Her own body was killing itself. Her own body was killing her. The meds I took calmed down the process, but it was accelerating quickly.
Just then, Doctor Smith, who’d known and treated me since I was a child, walked in. I couldn’t tell by the look on his face if the news was bad or good. How long did I have left?
“How long?” I asked aloud. I was surprised with how strong my voice sounded.
Dr. Smith looked down at his hands, then back up and into my eyes. “How long?” I asked again.
“I’m afraid it’s down to three months, Hazel,” his words punched a hole through her chest. Three months?
“Are you sure?” I asked, her voice again portraying more confidence than she felt.
He nodded gravely. She should have expected it, the meds she was taking were getting stronger, but it still hurt to know that in three months, she wouldn’t exist. After a little silence, he spoke again.
“Hazel, are you sure you don’t want the treatment?”
Dr. Smith looked surprised at her tone of voice. It was easy for him to judge her so fast. He didn’t know that, after her father died and her mother realized that he didn’t have as much money in his trust fund as they thought, Hazel couldn’t waste the little money her mother worked hard for on a high-priced treatment that might not even work. Hazel would have helped her with the money but, with having a skull-splitting headache every half hour, she couldn’t do much.
“Are you positive? It’s not too late to try the treatment.”
He just wouldn’t understand, would he. Hazel thought.
“No, I’m fine. I do not want the treatment.”With that, Hazel stood up and left the room.
She walked down the well-known hallways into the reception room and nodded at Kristy, the lady at the reception desk.She’s pretty much the only person Hazel knew who didn’t give her The Look. Kristy was a Leukemia survivor and she knew how horrible it felt to have The Look given to you. Kristy had once told her that she was about to die when she was brought to Oak Hill, the hospital where she was cured and also the hospital Hazel is currently being treated at, and she was so grateful for her life, that she wanted to do something for the hospital herself, so she applied for a job there.
Hazel walked out of the hospital, past the other patients waiting in the room, some of which she knew and had become acquainted with, and through the tall, glass doors. She walked along the side of the building, stopping under a tree a little ways away and took out her cigarettes. She took one out and the lighter she had with her and brought the cigar to her lips. She lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply. She had taken to smoking after her father died in the hospital after the car crash, trying to find why he had smoked. After a short while -she wasn’t big on smoking- she stubbed out the cigar and threw it in the trash can that was oh-so conveniently right next to her.
Wrapping her jacket around her, she started towards the parking lot, but stopped when she noticed Xander Parker walking quickly towards the hospital. She’d seen him in the hallways of the hospital occasionally, but he always looked upset and broken and Hazel wasn’t the type to try to comfort a stranger, so she’d never confront him and he never noticed her, so all was well.
After Xander got into the hospital, Hazel walked out of her shelter of trees and made it slowly to her car. Well, her mother’s car. After turning it on, and the radio right after, she sat there, staring at the clock as song after song rolled over her. Her mother believed that she went to school, but Hazel had stopped going a while ago, and had tried for a job. And, though she couldn’t do much, she at least had a little bit of money saved in a large wine jar in her closet for emergencies.When the clock hit 3:45, she started to drive home.