Wednesday, July 2, 2008


He wakes up at 3:30 in the morning in his sterile white bed in a sterile white room, and he writhes around in restlessness. He has no rest.

Eventually he wanders out to the cafeteria but he only nibbles at bread and sips some very weak coffee. He knows his stomach will hurt all day afterward but he still chooses not to eat.

His eyes are barely open and he looks sick.

Facing east he watches a sunrise through closed curtains in the front room.

Before everyone else wakes up he is back in his room, sitting at a small wooden desk in an old yellow chair, scribbling short phrases and single words onto sheets of paper, which he keeps in a manila envelope at the side of the desk. Sometimes he will take one of the pieces of paper and add a phrase or a word, and sometimes he will pull a fresh sheet out from the drawer of his desk and start new. The ream of white copy paper and box of pens were the only things he'd asked for the entire year.

Looking very fatigued he brings the folder to a close and lies down face up on his bed, waiting for the nurse to come in and do whatever it is she needs to do. Shots, medicine. He rarely says anything in protest because he's well clear enough to know it wouldn't help.

Sometimes he spends the afternoon lying there until he falls asleep. When he can't sleep anymore he'll wander out and around the halls, looking through the windows, wondering at the conditions of other people. He walks slowly because there's only so much to see.

This is cyclical.

Once a nurse watched through his window, unbeknownst to him, while he gazed at a wallet-sized picture tacked above his desk. A picture of a woman, the only thing he'd brought with him from the outside. And he said softly, bringing his face to rest in his hands, "I've got to get better, for you—"

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