Originally broadcasted 9/27/05
Monday, July 25, 2005
The regularized pulse of electronic equipment: Beep. Beep. Beep…
Then…soft, slow breathing…
Hospital Room – Day
A clear plastic tube dangled freely. The background behind it, a sterile off-white. A slightly yellow liquid flowed through the tube.
The tube carried a liquid into a small, fragile-looking hand lying on top of the bedcovers. The hand belonged to a small, blonde-haired boy, no more than ten years old, sleeping uneasily in a hospital bed.
The young boy was in a fully-equipped hospital room, sleeping beneath an oxygen tent. The shades were drawn, as though to protect the boy from the harsh midday sunlight.
Oxygen and heart monitors were working nearby. The sounds of the monitors beeping and the boy’s breathing faded into the background as a man’s voice, already in conversation, began to rise.
“…think he’ll eventually be all right. But you need to remember what you’ve been told regarding rejection. I can’t predict whether or not that will happen.”
The boy made a soft sound in his throat and took a gasping breath.
“That’s up to…whatever God or power you believe in,” the doctor continued, looking down at the boy. “Right now, he needs as much sleep and as little excitement as possible.”
The room was silent for a moment, and the beep-beep seemed even louder than before. The doctor, a clean-cut man in his mid-thirties, smiled at the boy’s visitor.
“He’s a fighter,” the doctor said. “Doesn’t look like it, I know. He’s so small and – well, to be blunt – fragile. But he’s got a lot of piss and vinegar in him. If any child could make it…”
The boy made a low sound in his throat, and his eyes fluttered open. He stared out blankly, as if unable to focus.
The doctor waited for the boy’s visitor to speak, but there was no word of encouragement or care forthcoming.
The boy made an effort to speak. At first, a very thin sound came from his moving lips. He shifted his light eyes, trying to find something to focus on. He saw the doctor smiling down at him.
“Welcome back,” the doctor said warmly.
The boy turned his head a little and saw his visitor decked in a surgical gown, cap, gloves and mask, standing quietly at the foot of his bed.
“Mmm,” he almost hummed. Then, with a great effort he called, “Mom?”
The doctor looked over at the woman. Only her dark eyes were visible. He watched them flicker in one brief wave of defiance. Then they softened, looked away, and looked back again at the boy.
“Mom…” The boy’s eyelids fluttered and then shut. He was asleep once more.
“Yeah,” the woman answered in a barely audible voice. Then she swallowed and let out a sigh. “I’m here,” she added, a little more loudly. “Just relax.”
She avoided the doctor’s knowing gaze, but when he did catch her eye, she gave him a dirty look and left the room before the redness rushed into her masked cheeks.There was a whoosh of air from behind her that blew a few strands of dark hair forward as the door automatically closed on the pressurized room. She leaned back wearily against the wall in the busy corridor. Sighing ruefully, she struggled with the hospital gown in an attempt to pull something from the zippered pocket on her pants.
An old, craggy-faced nurse pushing a cart interrupted her quest. “You can’t light those here!” she barked, pointing at the pack of cigarettes. “Go outside!”
The woman glanced around the nurse as if looking for the nearest waiting area.
“The building,” the nurse added rudely, before continuing on with her pushcart.
The woman pulled off her cap and mask with one fluid movement, her dark hair falling forward.
“Yeah,” Faith said under her breath. “Thanks, Nurse Ratchet.”
End of Teaser