Each story on her blog has a reflection in her book series “The Last King of Legends” based on King Baldwin IV of Latin Jerusalem between the Second and Third Crusades. Book 1 will soon be available!
By Serafia Cross
You never liked hospitals—then again who ever does? It’s a business where people make money off of others’ suffering—for the most part. There is some good in them, some miracles that do occur, and some very pleasant people there, but you’ve never liked hospitals, so there’s no reason to start now.
You walk through those sliding glass doors and feel a weight drape upon you. It’s the smell, you try to convince yourself, the light colored walls in an attempt to brighten the atmosphere, all these strangers—most of them in pain or fear.
You don’t want to be here, but you know you have to, so you drag your feet across the floor to the receptionist’s desk and ask for the room number of a friend. She tells you it’s upstairs third door left of the elevator. You offer her a tight smile then pull yourself away from the desk to the elevator and punch the ‘up’ button.
It opens as if waiting for you, and you step in and survey the extra long elevator. The only other time you’ve seen an elevator so deep was when you were in the student center at university, and the ballroom was upstairs while the kitchens and cafeterias were downstairs. Your friend commented on the depth of the elevator, and you told her, “It’s so they can get the carts of food upstairs to the ballroom when there’s an event.” It made sense then, and it makes sense now; these elevators are extra deep so the stretchers with patients on them could get in and out. You refuse to compare the patients to food carts but can’t get off the elevator quick enough. Once it dings and the doors open, you step out and realize you went right instead of left and turn around, ignoring the closing doors of the elevator to walk to your friend’s room.
You find the room. The door is ajar. You lift a palm to push it open but freeze when you hear a bout of laughter inside the room. Of course he’d be laughing now—he didn’t comprehend the full extent of his situation.
Almost angry you push open the door and stop at the sight of your friend sitting with his nephew playing speed chess. Hands move across the board—giving or taking an opponent’s piece, advancing forward, pulling back, always moving. Grins on their faces. Eyes bright with excitement. You don’t think either one is breathing—they’re so caught up with their game, and you most certainly know they don’t notice you.
“Ahha!” The boy throws his hands up—victory.
His uncle chuckles then looks your way. He says something to the boy too soft for you to hear, but it sounds something like ‘go find your mother’. The boy nods, gathers the chess set against his chest, and you sidestep him, so he can leave the room.
Once he is gone you look back to your friend and see him reclining in his bed. He appears exhausted but has a faint smile on his face. “You look awful,” he observes, “Like you ate something bitter and can’t decide to spit it out or swallow it.”
“I don’t like hospitals.” You refuse to get comfortable by sitting down but cross your arms instead. “Thought you could use a friend—didn’t realize you already had a visitor.” You jut your chin over your shoulder to the door. You came to the hospital almost out of guilt, but now you realize something you already knew about your friend–he always made the best of the every situation.