A lot of people are immensely fortunate. I long for a way to get any sense of responsibility and organization off my mind, like those happy people I've seen people watch in television commercials. I've gotten used to reading facial expressions, and those characters always have this oddly fake smile painted to a fleshy canvas. It's a kind of joy I only catch glimpses of, but I feel like that's the case for most people. It's an ignorance that I crave. You have to really focus to just enjoy the moment, to relax. I find it superbly impressive, really, when someone can blur out their life and enjoy each second. Weird, but impressive, nonetheless. I've always got my job rattling around my skull. I'm always travelling for it. Not exactly to sunny resorts all the time, but I've seen some hauntingly beautiful scenery.
Have you ever heard the waves crashing on a French beach? Like really listened to the pattern of each tide, or the crunch of the searing sand beneath people's feet? I've been there a few times, but not for a while. I'm an older fellow, you see, so I'm itching with thousands of sand-grain stories. I've walked and hitchhiked all through Europe back when I first got hired. It's amazing, the rugged history in each little town and hamlet. The lights in the big cities are mesmerizing and all, but it's the quaint towns that got me. There's not many left anymore, but they're always so special. There's so much life there, despite near non-existent populations. I can hear life in the swaying grass in the pastures, the mosaic trees rustling off waltzing leaves. Even the animals. My God, the animals. Quiet beings they are, but their eyes show more spirit than most humans. Each ring of colour on twin eggshells a portal into their minds. You can see real happiness in pigs when they hear their food being slopped in a trough. It's all in the eyes.
Travelling can be lovely because you develop a sense of detail of the world you find yourself in. At least, I did. Sometimes I feel like the world is moving slower, just for me. Just so I can get my mind off the hustle and bustle of my life and wonder at life. It's quite sweet, thinking about it like that. I wish that's what I could do all day, but I move around so much I never soak it all in enough. I went to Japan, for example, I flew there. I was thrown back by the culture, the pride they all had. But, before I could enjoy myself, I was gone in an instant. Life is so beautiful to me, I just wish I could spend more time doing just that. If I could've I would've walked the cobblestone roads of Dublin for days on end, until my feet bled. I would sit on top of mountains and just stare at the sun, letting the cold whisper silence in my ear. I would've spent so much longer watching people in Pompeii take bliss in their everyday routine. Even the roads there have grooves for carts. It was so wonderful to see the controlled chaos. I haven't been back since. Not very much, anyway. The ancient cities are the best. So much history. People long since dead still have a presence, a real moving presence.
It's hard to find some place I can't appreciate. However, I hate hospitals. I absolutely despise them. The Clorox scented halls are too clean, too false. Almost identical to the chipper advertisement actors. It's a sculpture of happiness with no real meat to it. No cheering, or dogs yapping, or life just existing. I would say how many times I've been to one, but I prefer not to. I feel rather guilty about it. I often reflect on something I could've done to help those poor, poor bed-ridden patients. I wish I could lie to myself and say that there is. Then, I'd feel as though I'd done my best to help them. I remember this one time, I was in this hospital in Canada. I believe it was Toronto.
It was the usual amount of upsetting, to say the least. Babies crying, the stomping of running footsteps. I passed this lady at the front desk who was too glued to her smart phone screen to notice me coming in. Her blonde bangs sort of cascaded this curtain over her eyes. I glided through from room to room to check for the one I was looking for. I flew by walls of gateways to, what I can assume, are personal hells for people. I kept my eyes down and counted the tiles as I made my way down. They were these almost factory-fresh vinyl tiles. I missed the natural grass from those towns in Europe. Even the parking lot out front, that searing hot stove, was better.
Finally, I found it. I gazed into the door's window and saw a reflection of myself. Through the vapour that was my translucent image was a small boy in this odd bed, his father, and a therapy dog. I entered, the dog staring me down. I saw fear in her brown eyes. Of course, I was a stranger, but dogs usually never like me. Her yellow fur stood up a bit, her ears matching it. Such beautiful, big eyes. I felt bad for coming and scaring the poor soul.
The father was asleep. The beep of his son's life support worked in tandem with his snoring to perfect this morbid melody. I've heard it many times before, but each time is a kick to the gut. Each time's a new family, a new experience. Nothing's the same except the look on the person's face when I get their attention. I silently hovered to the boy. His name was Matt. I'd been with him when his grandpa passed, but he wouldn't remember. He was a sweet kid. He loved Spongebob. Actually, he was coddling a Spongebob blanket.The absence of his innocent, bleach yellow tussle of hair put a lump in my throat. I saw it in framed pictures on this baby blue nightstand he had beside him, but I couldn't get passed the reality of it. I never can. Nobody does, actually. I poked Matt on the shoulder, waking him from his own sleep.
"W-what... who are y-"
"Matthew Chester?" I cut him off, my voice shaking a bit.
"Um... yeah?" He sat up in his bed without a sound. He was as shocked by the situation as I was.
I sat down in this chair he had next to him, unknowingly on his copy of I'll Love You Forever. The beeps still persisted. The dad was still asleep. The dog eventually waddled over to my side, sat, and tried to scare me. Teeth glaring, slight growl.
"Matt, I like your choice of books."
"Uh, thanks," he muttered, "My dad reads it to me." He was nervous, but they all are. I tried to ease him into it all.
"I'm not a stranger. I'm a friend." I assured him.
"Who are you?"
I inched closer to him. My hand, pale as a ghost, held his. I ran the other through my wavy, onyx hair, uncomfortably. The dog came closer, lying down between Matt and I.
"I'm here to, um, well.."
"You don't look so good." He said, staring at my white arm. He swung to his nightstand to grab a cup of water, but froze when his hand passed through it. He sat there for a second but to me, and I think to him, it was like an hour went by.
"Matt, do you remember your Papa much?" I rubbed his back and moved strands of his returned hair from his eyes.
"A bit. He's... Am I...?"
"He's a good man, Matty. I met him when you were little."
The room was quiet. Almost peaceful. But, each beep was a canon in the silence. Slowly, each one grew closer together. I always hated seeing children the most. I tried to think, but there wasn't anything I could do to save him. I was stuck by his side, like God had glued me to that damned chair until I did my job. I should be used to that part by now, but I'm not.
"He's always going on about your lovely pictures you draw." I pointed to the one he had taped to his wall, by his window. To this day, I marvel about how much life was in that drawing. The radiant green trees, the popping yellow sun. The clouds above the grey jungle outside made it really hard to enjoy the view, let alone see the sun. He stood up out of his bed in front of me. I saw his knees get shaky so I held him in my arms.
"What's happening?" He collapsed and sobbed into my body.
"Matt, I'm so sorry. I really am." I paused and looked into his eyes. I felt this mutual understanding and we both welled up. He looked upon his reflection on the bed.
"I know, Matt."
"It's not.... It-it's-"
"No, it's not fair, buddy. It never is." I shifted to the right of the chair, and he fell apart beside me. I remembered the beaches in France at that moment. The memories, like a family photo album, flipped through my mind. Then, screams of young men cut through them. The waters turned red and guns began crying. The beeps grew more frequent, like mines on a crowded beach. "You know, Matt. I really hate what I do."
"Hate's a bad word." He protested. I smiled.
"Oops, I'm sorry," I smirked and squeezed his shoulders together. "It's never fair when the world loses a life. Nobody should have a time limit to live, especially not such a great young man like you." He smiled. I think he enjoyed me thinking of him as a 'young man' and not a kid. "On my way here, I told your Papa you'd see him. He's very excited to see you again."
"Really?" He began to cry, not from sadness, but joy.
"Yes, really. You don't need to be afraid, Matty. You're safe now."
He started staring at his sleeping father. He was blissfully unaware that his son had passed in his sleep. I could feel Matt's emotions, and they tore me apart. Every time I take a life, I hurt their loved ones more than them, themselves. I hate it. I hate everything about myself, my job, hospitals. I just wanted it to be over. I could feel his emotions, but I can't read minds. I don't know whether he was still frustrated, or worried for his dad. Probably a depressed mixture of both. I felt a sort of buzzing in the air. An alert, if you will. My hands tensed.
"What's wrong?" He asked, voice shaky.
"I have to see somebody else now."
We sat in silence for what was like hours. I then stood up, Matt following me. I watched as he gave one last loving pet to the dog.
I walked him to his father. He gave him this great, big hug. It was quite something. The love between humans is one thing I, well, love about souls. Even in a room faking happy, they find comfort.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
His father slowly began to open his eyes.
"Everybody dies, Matt. I'm sorry." I began to cry as I watched him say goodbye to his father.
"I know. But, why? Why can't I be with my family?" Our emotions over took each other.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
"I... I don't know, Matty. I really don't."
We stood there, witnessing his father wake up in slow motion through burning eyes. The silence was demolished by a last, ear-splitting beep. It filled the room, flooding my head.
"Is heaven nice?" Matt whimpered. I sniffed back sadness, thinking of the beauty I'm about to show him.
"Everything is. Just you wait. You have all of eternity to enjoy it all. Don't be afraid." I spoke through my sadness. He hugged me, quite hard, really. I took his small hand in mine and we flew passed running nurses, the tiles I counted, and an empty front desk. I took him to his grandpa and went on my way. My eyes were still wet when I got to my next location. The whole trip was blanketed in bittersweet moments. I screamed because I took somebody's son, but that boy now has forever to enjoy the beauty I ramble to myself about. I don't know what he's doing with his grandpa right now, but whatever exploration they take part in must be filled with love. That's something I wish I could indulge in. I would clean my thoughts with a shower of souls I hold dear, and visit all of my favourite towns. Not for my job, but just to relax and unwind. Maybe we'd watch the grass grow.
Some people are immensely fortunate. It must be Heaven on Earth to live without a care, to not reflect on everything around you. I am not one of those lucky few. I am flooded with wondrous detail until I tear up, only to have my pristine beaches invaded with blood and bullets. I'm the one who takes the beauty away from people. I'm the one who takes a son from his father. Enjoy the beauty with your own eyes. I know more than many that it all breaks down in a second. I know the marvel of life, for I'm who ends it.