Hello and this time we have something that bends the fabrics of time. Not in the sense of literal space warping, but in the sense that the main character is out of time. And in fact, not very much within a contemporary realm. This much can be cindered out with enough investigation, though that does not constitute much of what this piece is about. This is very much about the contrasting generations as it is about the concept of getting through a disability. Once you have a grasp of the main character and who she represents, It becomes a little clearer what her words represent. It’s not just herself speaking out in helpful counsel, but a mindset of living life to it’s best and not letting the modern stigma affect oneself. In this sense, it’s also about age gap, and the difference of thinking between them. Or it’s about the fragility of life. Here you go, “Broken Bones”.
I woke up seeing a world filled with white. My eyes adjusted, and then I turned my head forward, and everything filled around me. I was sitting on a white bed, with a wire leading from my hand into a bag beside me. The bag was empty, and so I took the needle out of my arm. I used all the strength I could muster to sit up. In the corner, was a wide rectangular container with glass seemingly centered into it. To my right, a window with the curtains closed, and beside my bedside was a small tabletop with flowers and a strange rectangular contraption. My body seemed all too fine for me to be sleeping in such a place, but I didn’t deny it. I tried to wrap my head around my circumstances, but ended up drawing on blanks. The more I tried to remember, the more my head began throbbing, like an incipient buzzing had been planted into my brain. I sighed, and then got up from my bed. I walked to the door of my room, and slowly turned the knob, expecting a man in a white suit on the other side waiting for me. There was no one.
I walked to the hallway and looked at the colored lines on the floor and walls. It seemed that this was a built in guide. It saved money, time, and headaches. Though for me, I still had issues with all three. I couldn’t tell north from south, my twelve to six, nor my up from down. I wished I had a compass. Though, even that much wasn’t going to do much. A map might have also been well appreciated. I looked at the lines, and in the hall I was in. Just rows of doors, and a pernicious silence. I trusted my instincts and began walking aimlessly, following no line in particular.
Eventually, I made my way to what seemed to be the glass doors to the courtyard. I still hadn’t bumped into anyone yet. No other residents of the hospital, nor staff. Though as I brushed my hand across the walls and opened the glass doors, the thought of it all being a fabrication seemed too implausible. I stepped onto the grass, and breathed in the air. It all felt much too real for me to be still dreaming, or for me to have long since lived. I took more steps, and felt the weight of my body crush the grass beneath me, and the sun above pressing my face with rays of heat. Every so often, small gusts of wind would wrap around my face, and give me a silent enshroud. The aroma of the flowers littered among the courtyard threatened to cajole me into a deep sleep, but I pressed on. I had no reason to, but I kept walking forward in the courtyard, towards the towering trees that seemed to hide something from me.
I entered through the trees, and pushed past the branches that clipped my face. It was at this point that I waited for a small search party to jump out of the nearby brushes. It never happened. I walked until I stumbled upon a small clearing. It took my eyes time to adjust again to the new light as I left the trees. In front of me now was a collection of gray slabs jutting out from the earth. I knelt beside the closet one, and looked at the engravings. Couldn’t read a lick. I wasn’t sure whether it was due to the language being apart from my mother tongue, or if I just forgot how to read. Or maybe, I never could read. My mind began buzzing thinking about it, and so I stopped.
I went to the next slab, and the next, and the next, and on the fourth, I began to realize that this place wasn’t just for decoration. I felt inclined to dig my hand through the earth, but knew very well that doing so would unearth all kinds of ghastly omens. That much wasn’t something I was prepared for.
I got up from the earth, and brushed off the dirt from my white gown. I noticed now that I wore a white gown, and as I looked down, I am reminded of what I am. Not who I am, since my memories were still a charcoal haze, but what I am. I was relatively tall, I think, and my chest slightly strutted out. I brushed my hand behind me, and noticed my hair was flowing behind me, just below my shoulders. It was a nice black.
“I thought I saw someone here.” I turned towards the voice. And, to my surprise, the person who uttered that voice, was barely a person.
“Broken bones?” I asked.
“Paraplegic.” For some reason, I registered that word without hesitation, almost as if I owned it.
“How about you? Don’t tell me you’re a ghost.” He pointed towards the slabs in front of me, and I smiled. He smiled back, and I nodded, “Could be.”
“If you were, it would explain a lot.” That caught my attention pretty quickly. I tilted my head at him, and I think I gave him a dirty stare.
“Only a ghost would be roaming around a graveyard.” He rolled his wheelchair up to me, and looked at the slabs.
“Relatives? Or you?” I shook my head, “Can’t read.” He looked at me with glaring eyes. But, that was all. I didn’t know whether he actually judged me, but he dismissed the thought pretty quickly.
“You at least know your name?” He asked. It strained me to think of it. I shook my head once again. He rolled away, and began treading the other rows of slabs.
“Okay. Then, do you know why you’re here?” I didn’t want to think about it. So I didn’t.
“Nothing as serious as what you have,” I said, not knowing. He didn’t say anything at this point, but simply went about his way reading the slabs. Once he was done a row, he turned around, and made his way down another lane. He stopped mid way this time, and I walked up to him.
“How about you? Any relatives on here?” I didn’t expect an answer. Just mindless bantering, between two people who just so happened upon this quaint enclave of history.
“Not yet, at least,” he answered. He turned his wheelchair to face me, and smiled, “Do you know what it feels like to be paralyzed?”
“Strange question. No,” I answered with a slight smile. He chuckled, and then turned his wheel chair back, and began rolling through the rest of his lane. Once he was done, he began on another, and this time, I began to walk behind him, looking at all the slabs he did, unable to read.
“Actually, I don’t know. I can guess,” I shrugged. But he never replied, and so I continued.
“Being paralyzed must feel like the weight of the world is on your back.” I looked up at the sky. It was a clear day. Not a single cloud in sight, and not a single bird flying above to indicate a sign of life. The only thing here was the bodies below. That, and a wheelchair, and I.
“Everything around you starts caving in, and despite you wanting to stop the subjugating masses of reality, you can’t.” He stopped, and looked upon a single slab. His eyes were fixated on it. His hands were restless, tapping on the arm of his chair.
“To me, accepting your paralysis means giving up.” He looked up at me, smiled, and then looked back down with a sigh. He wheeled his way off, and I followed. We never said anything until he finished looking at each row. When we were done, he stopped at the spot he came from.
“To me, it means not being able to do what I want to do. Because I’m just a disabled, pitied being,” he said with a short wistful air to him.
“And what do you want to do?” I replied as I walked towards him.
“I want to live life. Without broken bones.”
“Why can’t you?” He stopped, his eyes fixated on the earth below us. I came to, and with the same white gown, that was now browned at the hems, patted him on the shoulder. I shrugged and added, “Nothing wrong with being different. Right?” He looked down, didn’t even bother to shrug me off, and just smiled as he brought his head up, “Yeah. You’re right,” he said. And then, added, “It’s just… It’s hard to think about that. I can’t even begin to imagine living like this. Can you?” I shook my head. I couldn’t. I couldn’t, but I knew that at one point in my life, I could have sympathized. For some reason, it didn’t hurt me to think about it. I was just like him.
We walked back to the hospital, and along the way, I saw a patch of flowers that were beginning to wilt. I stopped him and pointed it out. It was a group of yellow petaled flowers, and one that was oddly blue. I couldn’t discern a name for them, but I knew that the blue flower was special. Yet, no matter how different it was, it still lived a life among the rest.
“Just like you,” I said out loud, “Minus the dying part,” I quickly corrected. We laughed. Once we got back to the hospital, I wheeled him inside, back to where I came out. The hallway was still empty which made me feel oddly comfortable. I followed his direction and brought him to his room.
“I hope you do well. You still have the rest of your life ahead of you,” I said.
“Yeah. I do. I hope you find the rest of your life too. ” With that, we waved, and I was off. I wandered down the hall, with each step echoing in my head. I walked, and followed no particular line, but I found my room. I couldn’t read, nor did I know my name, but I knew it was my room. It drew me in. I opened the door, and stood in front of my bed. It was just like I left it. Messy. Then, it hit me. Hospitals usually have a name plate for their patients in front of the bed. I crouched down, and lowered my eyes to the name plate. Then, I realized I couldn’t read but maybe I would remember the words anyway. I could still match them visually. As I scanned the plate, I noticed that there were numbers on the plate. Date: 1976. I looked around and went outside my room, looked at what was written on it. The letters were all different. Strange, I thought. I went over to my bed, and then looked at everything around me again. Except, the flowers were wilting, just like the ones outside. It made me want to cry. I crawled into my bed, and then covered myself with the white sheet. I then closed my eyes, and waited for the world around me to stop.