#113; fiction — excerpt from ‘life support’

Original Piece: Life Support
Title: Flood
Summary: We all look so pale.

I pick up my rental car at the airport in Austin and make sure to order a GPS system to go with it; not only having been out of the city for nearly ten years, but also having never needed to visit the hospital downtown.

I got into the Aveo, a bright yellow eyesore, and made my way out of the garage without noticing beforehand the downpour that sheeted through Austin.

The water had all ready pooled deeply in the streets and so they were practically deserted. My GPS sputtered, trouble connecting to the satellite through the thick gray clouds that obscured the sky. Thankfully, the hospital turned out to be a large, looming building – foreboding looking in this unexpected spring storm – right downtown. It wasn’t hard to find, even with the GPS on the fritz.

I pull a newspaper out of my carry-on bag and adjust it over my head, my pale blue button up not being something I want to get drenched in. I adjust my khaki’s quickly with my free hand, and make the dash for the visitors doors, arriving much like a drowned cat loath to come in from her adventures.

“Hi, I’m here to see Pete Michaelson.”

The nurse at the desk pointed a chubby finger. “Right down the hall there, visitors have another half an hour or so, I think there might be someone there now though.”

“Thank you.”

“Amy Lou?” Manuel Morales looked up from where he seemed he’d been speaking to our friend, who’s eyes were closed. Machines were attached to nearly every inch of exposed skin.

“Manny.” I nearly sighed his name.

“What are you doing here?” He sounded tired.

“You don’t honestly believe you would call me with all of this and I wouldn’t come down? He looks so pale.”

“Hasn’t gotten much sun lately, what can I say? Rain hasn’t stopped in the last few days. They think it might have had to do with the accident. I’m surprised you’re here.” He looked back at Pete and stood, made his way over to me and hugged me in a polite, strange way. Manny had never been one for pretense.

“How’s Mrs. Michaelson doing? She must be… preparing herself?” I imagined they would unplug the machines once everyone had come to peace with the loss, but Mrs. Michaelson wasn’t one to let go easily.

“She’s been here about every day, just sitting outside, doesn’t seem able to see him. You’re soaked, do you have a change of clothes?”

“The rain…” I said, as if it explained things completely; my visit, the state of me.

“Here,” he rummaged through a bag and pulled out a large gray-green t-shirt. “I’ve been staying, so I’ve got extras around, bathrooms through there.” He pointed me in the right direction and, surprising myself, I went to change without question.

Refreshed and swimming in the man’s shirt, I came back out, putting my hair up in a haphazard bun, glad for the dryness of the room. I sit at the end of the bed and don’t know what there is to say next.


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