“The Day I Survived” / Memorable Fancies #2556

I’d been lucky with my health, but that day (“That Day” I call it now, both syllables louder than I usually speak) a car hit me as I was crossing a street in one of those cheap suburbs. I had time only to shout “Crosswalk, you idiot!” I thought I’d be roadkill for sure.

But then I woke. I could pretty much guess, finding myself in a bed with white-smocked people around me, mumbling to each other, that I’d survived and was now in a hospital examining room that you see on one of those TV shows. That guess turned out to be – close.

One of the whitesmocked noticed I was awake. She turned to me and said “Mr. Harlow, I’m Dr. Daniels, and I’m afraid that I – and my colleagues here” (gesturing with head and one hand) – have saved your life.” She smiled. The others turned toward me and stared. “But now you need more rest,” she continued, pushing a needle into my shoulder.

#

Some day, maybe the same day but probably not, I woke again. This time, I was in a much smaller room. No one was in it but me. I tried to sit up but was hit by enough pain that I immediately lay back down, shaking and gasping. After a few minutes, I gingerly reached toward what seemed to be a nurse-call button, careful not to move any parts of me I didn’t have to move, touched it, grasped it, pressed.

Nothing.

Wait.

Wait.

Finally the door opened, a male head stuck itself inside, smiled, and said “You’re awake! I’ll call Dr. Daniels right away!” Head withdrew, door closed.

A few minutes later Dr. Daniels entered, smiled. I think they teach them to smile, especially when they’re about to cut something out of you or insert some foreign object into you.

“And how are we today?” she said, tilting her head and beaming.

Hearing that, my first impression was that I was either in Hell, or a Hollywood cliché factory. I frowned and didn’t answer.

But she approached me anyway, lifted up my sheet, and examined what seemed to be the injured area, because wherever she touched, it hurt.

“Good,” she said, standing back a foot or two. “It might take a week or two, but then you can go home and…” she stopped, looked a question mark at me.

“Paint,” I said.

“So you’re a painter! Oils? watercolor? gouache?”

“Walls,” I said. “Doors. Ten percent off for the second side.”

That stopped her cold.

“Ah…”, she said, frowning. After a moment she recovered most of her professional composure. “Well,” she said, “well.” And stopped. Frowned. “I have to tell you something.” She took a step back and a breath a little too deep. “First I have to ask you a few questions.”

“All right.”

“Have you ever had a physical? Exam, I mean.”

“No, not really. My folks were poor, and out in dirt country you don’t go to a doctor unless something hurt, broke, or bleeds and doesn’t stop.”

“Ah,…”

“So no, but I’ve been fine. Until now.”

“So no one ever told you …?”

“Told me what?”

“That your body – inside, I mean – is unusual. Very unusual.”

“How?” I said, and I knew I must have sounded scared.

“Your blood circulation – muscles contract to move the blood along – there is a kind of purifier thing to keep it healthy – but…”

“But what?”

“This isn’t a hospital, although they’re having physicians like me in to see you; it’s the university’s biomed lab. You have no heart!” and she gave a kind of jolt as if she hadn’t meant to sound so blunt and unprofessional.

“Oh is that all?” I breathed long and deep with relief. “My wife tells me that all the time!”

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