Hello everyone! Hope you’re enjoying the daylight on this beautiful Monday morning, and enjoying a coffee to go with it. As for me, I’m getting some work done on my various writing projects today, and looking forward to sharing more about my upcoming radio play Something in the Nothing very soon. In the meantime…
Gabriel woke up in bed. He stretched out his stiff, aching arms, feeling years of trivial injuries, hey-this-will-get-better-soon wounds, and supposedly healed muscle tears ripple throughout his entire body. The years went by so fast. One day he was young, strong, and athletic, and the next, he woke up in a place like— Wait. Hold on. Where the hell was he?
A sky-blue curtain hung on his left, blocking off the other side of the room. A bulky television set was suspended from the ceiling. The walls were the same color, and he caught the faint stinging odor of antiseptic. To his right was an open door exposing a hallway, from which came the sounds of sirens, loud voices, and beeping.
He carefully rolled over onto his side. His aching muscles resisted the turn, and his bones weren’t much friendlier. His back immediately felt as though it had been exposed to dry ice. He realized that he was wearing a bare-backed johnny gown instead of his usual pajamas.
Tied to the railing of the bed was a vine-like wire, with a red push button on the end. Oh, no. He was in the hospital. But how? When? Was he sick? Had he gotten into a motorcycle accident?Why couldn’t he remember?
Gabriel panicked, breathing heavily. His heart raced. His skin was coated in a hot, syrupy sheen of perspiration. He struggled to sit upright, but his entire skeleton felt so stiff that it might snap at the slightest strain. He was trapped. He threw off the blanket and examined his body for wounds.
Instead, he found wrinkles. His thin, nearly transparent skin had become a crumpled-up piece of tissue paper. Liver spots. Reticular veins. Painful varicose veins on his ankle.
Oh. That’s right. Slowly, tentatively, Gabriel’s memory volunteered its services to him again. He wasn’t in a hospital. He was in a nursing home in New Hampshire, the same nursing home where he’d lived in for five years. Bright New Day Skilled Nursing Center. Yes, that was it.
He frenetically cycled through his usual checkmark system. His name was Gabriel Schist. That part was easy. The president was Bill Clint… no. George? No, Barack. Barack Obama. Wait. Was that the last one? Well, how about the year? The year was 2018. He knew that, at least. As far as his age, he was… what, seventy-five years old? Seventy-two? Seventy-three?
Well, his age had never been important to him, anyway. As long as he remembered the sequence, he was still okay. That was the most important part, the only way to determine if the gears of his mind were still turning properly.
“Zero,” he whispered. “One, one, two, three, five, eight, thirteen, twenty-one, thirty-four…”
Finally, he felt strong enough to pull himself up into a sitting position. He shivered, his bare feet resting on the cool linoleum floor. He waited for the sharp lines and blurry geometric figures of the world to come into sharper focus.
“Fifty-five, eighty-nine, one hundred forty-four…”