The hospital room was designated for specific types of patients. That was the first thing the two men had in common. Their illnesses, although extremely different in their makeup, were classified as terminal. Edmond, the older of the two by a decade, was positioned upright in bed by the nurses for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His was the bed was next to the only window in the room.
The man in the other bed, Rudolph, was forced to remain on his back. An uneasy relationship at first as was the norm when strangers in pain were thrust together, the men slowly opened a line of communication and soon they began speaking for hours. They spoke of their ex-wives and estranged families, their homes, their jobs, the exotic and less so places they vacationed. And every afternoon when Edmond could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to Rudolph all the things he spot outside the window.
Rudolph lived for those hour long breaks where his life was broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
“The view overlooks a park with a spectacular lake, Rudy,” Edmond said. “Ducks and swans are playing on the water. A father is actually sailing a remote controlled boat with his son. A young couple is kissing on the benches beside the flower bushes…”
“What about the city skyline, Eddie? Can you see it over the trees?” Rudolph asked.
“In clear view.” Edmond replied. And as he described the outside world in exquisite detail, Rudolph closed his eyes and imagined the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon Edmond described a parade passing by. Although Rudolph couldn’t hear the band, he saw it in his mind’s eye just as clearly as his roommate portrayed it in descriptive words. Then an unexpected and sinister thought entered his mind.
Why should he get to see everything while I’m lying in bed dying, unable to see a goddammed thing?
It didn’t seem fair.
Almost as soon as the thought hit, Rudolph felt ashamed. But as the days passed into weeks and he missed seeing more and more sights, his envy eroded to resentment. He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep.
I should be by that window!
That thought and that thought alone now consumed the entirety of his being.
Then late one sleepless night as Rudolph lay staring at the ceiling, Edmond began to cough, choking on the fluid in his lungs. Rudolph watched in the dimly lit room as his so-called friend with the widow view groped for the button to call for help.
Listening from across the room Edmond never moved, never pushed his own button which would have most assuredly brought the night nurse running in. Although it seemed longer, it was a mere five minutes before the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of labored breathing. Now there was only silence. A deathly silence.
The following morning the day nurse discovered Edmond’s lifeless body when she brought in water for their baths. Rudolph resented the sadness displayed by the nurse and the hospital attendants as they took the body away.
Rudolph forced himself to be patient and when it seemed appropriate, he asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to turn and looked out the window.
It faced a blank wall.
Later, Rudolph asked the nurse what could have compelled Edmond to lie about the wonderful things he saw outside this window?
The nurse replied, “You mean you didn’t know? He couldn’t have described anything outside the window, not even the wall. He was blind. Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
Sally forth and quit being envious of what other have and start being appreciative what you’ve gottingly writeful.
— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys