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Room 401

By Dee Kay & Roy

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There is always an unspoken heaviness in the hospital corridors. I step in one such corridor of life and death – of prayers answered and ignored – of hope and despair. The fluorescent tubes blind me for a moment before the eyes adjusted to the brightness, or maybe I was just too used to the darkness within. The weight of the past dragged along for years has, at last, slowed me down as I took another step forward with great internal conflict. The neutral – white smoke – color walls reflected a familiar calmness alike the mask I wear to hide the chaos dwelling in the deepest corners of the soul.

Can I help you?” An attendant enquired. I looked lost while still trying to gather my thoughts. He asked again as I cleared my throat – unlike my mind – and spoke

“Room 401?”

“The visiting hours are over for ICU.” His voice demanding authority while his words expressed facts.

I… I am… the patient’s… FA… FA…” I tried to speak but it has been years since I used that ‘F’ word for the patient of room 401. The attended quietly awaits an answer while my mind rushes into piecing together the alphabets to follow the ‘F’.

*** ***

“You are good for nothing. All you do is waste money while tarnishing the reputation I have earned. Do you even know what they call you in the real world?” A momentary pause before the ‘F’ word dropped.

“They call you a FAILURE”

*** ***

I am FAILURE” I spoke as I let the words from the past travel into the present.

“What?” The confused attendant spoke a bit loudly as if momentarily concealing the wormhole of the past. I gain my composure and spoke sharply.

 “I am the patient’s FAMILY” The unconscious emphasizes on ‘family’ felt like a burden being lifted off the soul.

“The patient never had any visitors before… especially FAMILY” His emphasis was sarcastic yet true. I never had come to visit the patient in room 401.

“BUT… I guess a visit from ‘family’ would do him some good.” He concluded with emphasizing on the ‘F’ word – again. I gave a dishonest half-smile as he gave me the directions. A strong sense of overwhelming emotions gathered like the grey clouds of a storm encircling the conscious mind. The hiking pace of heart accompanied by the trembling of the limbs made the sweat roll down the face even in the air-conditioned corridor. By some means, I manage the way to the elevator. I step into an elevator with mirror walls as the door closes and I find myself staring at the reflection.

*** ***

“You’re DEAD to me.” He said without a hint of regret, or even doubt. The surety in his voice felt like the hammer hitting the last nail in the coffin of this relationship. I stood there staring at the reflection of myself in the mirror behind him. I was hurting yet I didn’t cry and walked away forever.

*** ***

The sword of words from the past kept slashing and thrashing my soul as I just relived it without letting the echoing cry of pain be felt. It was then that I notice the dampness on the face, I imagined to be sweat, turns out to be tears. I had been crying without realization as the emotional storm set out the rain work without any warning. The wounds resurfaced through the montage from the past – only this time it came with the demand to be acknowledged. The door opens on the ICU floor as I wipe the tears in a hurry as if the mask that was partially lift was forced back on. I walked towards room 401 with so much internal conflict that the real struggle became moving forward.

‘Room 401’, the sign on the door read. I stood there trembling – like a scared prey in front of the predator – as the heaviness took the conscious mind hostage again. The pandemonium thoughts insisted on walking away yet there consisted a single reason to stay. It is time for me to be at PEACE. I reached the doorknob and slowly pushed it open.

The loosely lit room was struggling to keep up with the growing number of machines to fit in as they overshadow the bed. The beeping sound of the machines let me know that he was still alive as I step closer to him. There he was – the oppressor, the disciplinarian, and the man – my father.

I pull up a stool near the bed as I observe the fragile being on the bed with a web of tubes and wires consuming the major portion of what is left of him. He was in a coma yet the mind saw him as he was and not as he is at this moment. I took a deep breath. It is time for me to say my piece so that I can let the past go and be at peace with who I am – his son.

“Hello… DAD… It’s me… Your SON…” I struggled to speak just like the day I left him.

“I am… nothing like… you said I am… I am not… a failure nor am… I useless rather I am more than what you could ever see in me. I AM WHAT I WANTED TO BE – I am not YOU.” I finally utter the one thing I always wanted him to know – I am more like me and less like him. 

“I am a famous artist now. I speak to millions but am mute to you because for you I never even existed. I was never your reflection but rather was an extension of you, which you could not understand. Thus, you pushed me away but here we are in this hospital where I am speaking my heart and again you’re not listening.”  I broke down completely.

“I never… asked for anything… other than your approval… of me… I just wanted you to accept ME even if you couldn’t understand me…” I took his frail hand in mine.

“I came here due to the love I have for you because you will always be my father irrespective of any and everything so I want you to listen as I say this once and loudly – I FORGIVE YOU.”  I put my head on his hand as I collected the broken pieces of the soul. A tear rolled onto his skin as if trying to speak to him in silence. I thought I came here to let go of him and be at peace but I think it was more about letting him be at peace. He was who he was because of his experience in life just like I am who I am because of mine. The heaviness that I felt entering this building was nothing more than the baggage of the past that I chose to carry – the baggage that I finally am letting go at ROOM 401.

*** ***


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