Eavesdropper: Create a poem, short story, or journal entry about a conversation you’ve overheard.
I am writing this in the latter half of an evening. Exhausted. I attended an autism related meeting this afternoon. For autistic people mainly. I wanted to be there even though a situation such as that is difficult for me. Having slept very little I spent the morning filled with anxiety and trying to stave off panic attacks that got worse as the time to leave got closer. That meant that my morning plans to write had to be cancelled. I did make it through the meeting. But the effort of it left me much more exhausted than I was to start with and I had to spend hours at home half-recovering from being there. I'm not going to write tonight about why such meetings are difficult for me. Not tonight. Tonight is for attempting to write something.
Well hey, I've done that already! All the books on developing writing skills say that a writer should write something every day. It doesn't matter what. The above paragraph is writing. It's just not the writing planned.
Here's some planned writing. Happily shorter than some of the stories from the past fortnight. It's based on two conversations overheard yesterday. Loosely based, although at least three things in this short piece are accurate. I'll leave it up to you to answer the final question. Somehow I know this man was divorced three years ago. I know that. But I don't know the answer to the question.
|Found art. Unrelated to conversations or stabbings.|
"Stabbed five times. ... Brutal, yes. ... A horrific attack."
A nurse was talking further down the hospital corridor. Her voice carried as far as me with clarity and I wondered whether she should perhaps talk a little quieter. A young woman had walking home through the park when she was attacked, stabbed repeatedly, and left for dead. I didn't know that I wanted to hear all the details, not in my condition. The nurse said she had been brought here and it was touch and go. As I continued to listen I learned that she was in surgery suffering from internal bleeding. It was hoped that no organs had been seriously damaged. I guessed the nurse was on the phone to someone in another part of the hospital as I couldn't hear any response. Silently I said a prayer for the stabbed woman, whoever she might be. The nurse vented her own frustration and sorrow, asking "Who the hell would do such a thing?"
I said a prayer for myself too.
It wasn't the first time it had happened. I'd been getting dizzy spells more and more frequently of late. To begin with they weren't much of a worry and I'd only got round to visiting my GP when I'd had to sit back down and my vision had blurred. The doctor put it down to low blood pressure and gave me some pills and said to come back in a couple of weeks. But they didn't help and the dizziness continued to get worse and when I returned she referred me to a consultant and said she would make it an urgent referral.
I waited with some anxiety for the appointment because things really were getting worse. A couple of times I blacked out for a moment and found myself on the floor. When it happened in the street I was taken straight to A&E in an ambulance, the first time I'd ever ridden in one. It would have been exhilarating with the siren shouting out an emergency had I not been the emergency. They kept me in overnight for observation, changed my medication and then discharged me the following morning with an appointment with a specialist a week later.
The specialist confessed that he didn't quite know what was going on. If it wasn't blood pressure then it could be several other things and he began the process of sending me for tests to rule out one thing after another. I'd been dead scared of it being a brain tumour. He told me not to worry about that but sent me for scans anyway. The results came back negative so I was referred on for more tests and given yet another set of medication.
It was while waiting for the tests that things got a whole lot more worrying. During a particularly bad dizzy spell I remember falling. When I came round from blacking out several hours had passed. I was three miles from where I'd fallen. I had the worst headache I'd ever experienced and when I wiped my face with my hand discovered that my nose had been bleeding. I was scared but there didn't seem to be much to do about anything so rather than rushing to the hospital I called a taxi and went home. I could discuss this new development at my next appointment. Only a few days to wait. Surely that wouldn't make any difference.
But here I was. Just two days later. Lying on a trolley in a crowded casualty department. I must have blacked out again. Couldn't remember a thing since getting myself ready to go to work that morning until I'd woken that night in another ambulance. This time I'd been found unconscious in a park by an old woman, badly cut along my arm and covered with blood. The paramedic told me the woman had screamed when she saw me, thinking I was dead. I still felt dreadful. My head was pounding like there was an angry gorilla trying to escape from my skull and when I'd tried to sit up I felt like I was going to vomit.
I was worried. I'd never been more scared in my life. What if they couldn't find what was wrong? What if they couldn't fix me and I just continued to get worse? What if the next old woman did find my corpse in the street somewhere? I discovered in that moment that I was far more afraid of dying than I'd thought. And I felt alone, so alone. I hoped my wife would arrive soon and wondered what she had been doing all day. What could be keeping her away so long?
I prayed for myself again as I thought about my situation. If only it wasn't all so uncertain. And then I looked at my hospital gown and remembered my clothes. And I pictured the blood that was caked on my hands so deeply.
And then I remembered the woman in the park and for the first time echoed the question, "Who the hell would do such a thing?"