The girl who sat beside Andrew in the waiting room was ugly. There was no better or softer way to put it. Being the cool and friendly person he was, Andrew did not want to conclude that she was ugly. And so he tried to look for something, something beautiful about her no matter how small, but then, there was nothing. Not even one particle of beauty. It was as if the Creator was sleeping while moulding this one and before he woke up, the clay had solidified. Poor girl.
The hospital was a big one. The last time Andrew came here was a month ago when his asthma hit him hard. For three consecutive days he was rushing for his inhaler. Until the third day when the thing refused to calm him down. He inhaled and inhaled and it seemed to only worsen the situation, as though he was inhaling death in a gaseous form. Andrew lived alone so he had gathered all the life left in him and called his sister. And then he passed out.
He woke up in the hospital. The room was a small one. It had an appealing look. The blue walls warmed his heart and the pink curtains reminded him of love; a forgotten phenomenon. There was only one bed in the room and that was his. There were two windows, one by the door and the other opposite the door. It took him a while before he noticed his sister on the chair by the door.
‘Cheri,’ he called.
His sister looked up and rushed to him. ‘Andy! Andy!!’ she was crying. She dropped her head on his lap and Andrew stroked her hair. He missed family. He missed love.
‘Cheri, what’s up? What is the doctor saying?’
All of a sudden, darkness swallowed Cheri’s eyes and her face was covered in gloom. Her hands were trembling seriously and then she began to sob.
‘Cheri? Is everything okay?’
‘It’s not, Andy. It’s not,’ she sobbed and sniffed. Andrew gave her time to pull herself together. And then he spoke.
‘How many days do I have?’
‘You don’t…You don’t have days, Andy. Hours. The doctor had given up already. We didn’t know you were going to wake up. You’ve been unconscious for three days. They said…They said your lungs are gone.’
‘I… I just had asthma, Cheri. Just asthma. What is all this you are talking about?’
‘It was not asthma, Andy. We.. the doctor explained it all to me.’
‘So I have just hours left?’ Cheri nodded as tears streamed down her face.
Andrew sighed. He never prepared for this. He had always thought he was going to win this war. And now, here he was, hours away from death, with several tubes and drips attached to his body. He removed them all and got up from the bed. He felt a certain weakness in his bones. He found it hard to believe that he had been on this same bed for three days. He stretched his legs and arms and leapt forward. He almost fell but he gathered himself together.
‘Where are you going?’ Cheri asked as she aided his movement.
‘Nowhere. I just want to see the sun before I die.’
The door opened to a long passage. He walked it all down until he got to the waiting room and took his seat on one of the pews.
The girl who sat beside Andrew in the waiting room was ugly. There was no better or softer way to put it. Being the cool and friendly person he was, Andrew did not want to conclude that she was ugly. And so he tried to look for something, something beautiful about her no matter how small but then, there was no nothing. Not even one particle of beauty. It was as if the Creator was sleeping while moulding this one and before he woke up, the clay had solidified. Poor girl.
‘You’re okay?’ She asked. Andrew swallowed. Her face was horrible. Her skin was thick and squeezed up. She managed to smile but it only made it worse. Andrew wanted to throw up. ‘You’re okay?’ She repeated her question.
‘No one here is okay, girl.’
‘Well, yeah. That’s true. We’re all here because we’re not okay,’ she said and shrugged. She talked fast, as though she was in a hurry to get some information across to him. Andrew looked into her eyes. She looked back.
‘Why’re you looking at me like that?’ She asked, squeezing her already squeezed face.
‘Is it my face? Everyone always wants to know what happened. Well, it all doesn’t matter, does it? They say I’ve got only a day.’
Andrew swallowed. All his previous thoughts about the girl melted away like ice. She was almost gone too. He moved closer to her and put his arm around her.
‘I’m sorry about that.’
She shrugged again as though it didn’t matter. ‘You? How many days more?’
‘Not days. Hours. Just came to see the sun before I die.’
Her face was expressionless but she did not shrug. She looked at him and held his hand. ‘It all doesn’t matter, does it? It’s the useless things that matter now; like the sun, the fresh air, the little conversations with unknown people.’
Andrew nodded quickly. Tears were forming in his eyes. He looked away.
‘You believe what they say? You believe death is just a bridge to another life?’
For a moment, he wanted to say yes. But he wiped his face and looked at her. She deserved better. ‘No. I believe death is a storm. You’re caught in the waters and then you are washed all the way down to somewhere you don’t know. And then you come ashore and start life again, a new being.’ He smiled, at his own story and this creativity he never knew he had.
She smiled back at him and released his hand. ‘Better get going then, new life is waiting,’ she said and ran towards the passage. Andrew waved and smiled. He wondered how such an agie girl could have just few hours left.
As he sat down and waited for his time to run out, he meditated on her last words: new life is waiting.