Fresh-Pressed Linens

As I lie awake in unrelenting pain, I begin to let my mind process the events of the day that landed me in this unblemished environment. I glance around my temporary home and take it all in. I know it must be the middle of the night behind the drawn plastic curtains, so I angle my head in an awkward way to glance at the mechanical clock to my left—it’s the kind that my elementary school had, with the constant hum of the mechanism relentlessly working inside. There is no break in the second-hand, there is no familiar tick tok but rather a murmuring buzz, the clock reads 1:53 in the morning. I let out a sigh in painful agitation; there is no way I’m getting any sleep tonight.

I shift uncomfortably on the unyielding mattress, which has been dressed in fresh-pressed linens, so stiff and scratchy, there’s not a single wrinkle to be found on them. Their sterile scent of antimicrobial detergent and Lysol acts as a barrier to all the death that has inevitably occurred on them. I wonder how many have laid on these barren sheets before they found their way to me. How I miss my own warm and inviting bed, with its down comforter and well-worn, loving sheets. I find it hard to believe I was there a mere 24 hours ago, taking its luxury for granted—had I even made my bed this morning?

The insistent beeping brings me back to my bleak reality, as if the sound is mocking me in my current state of displeasure. I stare at the green line, with its peaks and valleys with every purposeful beep beep, watching my own life—my own heart, beating in front of me. This persistent machine, monitoring my very life, cradled in its hands, is my only companion at this hour—my God I am tired. I position myself to view the clock again, 2:01; I breathe a sigh of relief as I fumble with my one decent hand for my injection pen. (Though, I am convinced the pen does nothing to aid in the burning sensation I feel—there is too much damage to bring any sort of relief.) Once I feel the cold morphine enter my vein, I wait impatiently to feel any kind of reprieve from the agony. I struggle for my cup desperate to feel some sort of familiarity, I take a large gulp of the ice cold water the nurse brought me moments ago, but for whatever reason the water does not quench my thirst. Instead I am met with a strange metallic taste, as if I were sucking on a spoon instead. I glance at the clock, 2:03. I’m never getting out of here.

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