Thirteen Hours

Sandy Boucher

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Like a mist curtaining from the surface of a black deep pond, I rise up into voices, slabs of hard sound, scrapes of metal, thuds, and clinks. I realize I lie on my side. And just across from me, on another wheeled table (we are like two reclining figures on a tomb) in this huge brightness that allows us no modest hiding of blemish or sag, there looking back at me is a man whose skin gathers the light at his naked leg. He is trying to pull himself to a sitting position, elbows jabbing air, the hospital gown falling back from his wrinkled thigh. No one comes to help us, we’re utterly alone with each other here in the bowels of Highland Hospital, the long crowded corridor and warren of rooms that is Emergency. This is the classic county hospital - last resort for those without insurance or money - crowded, understaffed, and noisy.

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