The Lost Hour

Less than twenty minutes ago, I had been incarcerated by my own woollen jumper, head rattling around inside it, seeking liberation. On reflection, my melon had tried to birth itself through the arm hole. Distressing—yes, but not the pinnacle of my troubles. That came when my little finger snagged in the jumper’s heavy knit. If it was lighter, I may have been able to tear my finger free.

Blindly flailing, I took a stumble of steps to recover my balance, only to falter on discarded high-heeled shoes. Ironically, I always feared falling while I wore them. But, barefoot, I plummeted, only air and a solid wooden floor beneath me. My finger—still caught in the jumper—won the race to the floor, followed by the attached bag of bones.

It had been a sickening snap. Not loud like my scream, but impressive.

And that’s how I came to be in this ER, limp hand in lap, surrounded by the whitest of walls and wafts of imitation-citrus cleaner. There is nothing to do but wait and watch the clock. It ticks over 11:00 am.

“Someone will be with you soon,” the nurse says without conviction.

I don’t believe her. But I wait. The people dwindle. Finally, the nurse heads in my direction.

Before she succeeds in her purpose, a high-pitched bell announces a new visitor. The ER doors slide open. A young man gingerly steps in. His right eye is swollen like a balloon about to pop. In contrast his face is hospital-wall white. A wadded up black t-shirt is forced against his left temple.  Blood trickles down his cheek, soaking into the front of his rugby jersey. The mess mottles the sponsors logo. Surely, it’s not the advertising they were hoping for.

The nurse moves towards him, or more importantly, she moves away from me.

The poor man has been beaten black and blue, yet I am still green with envy as he is whisked through to a bed for treatment.

I wait.

The bones of my bottom ache from the anti-ergonomic plastic seat and, to add to my discomfort, I’m freezing, having never managed to get that blasted jumper on. Impatiently, my foot taps with the ticking clock. It clicks over 12:00 pm. One precious hour lost from my Saturday is all I’m willing to sacrifice, despite the pain.

The doors slide silently open as I slip quietly out. Fresh air greets my sullen face. Right then, the high-pitched bell announces my departure like a banshee’s farewell.

I leap out of my skin.

The sun assaults my vision.

Blindly flailing, I take a step. My foot comes down on the curb’s curved edge. I’m falling. All that is beneath me is air and concrete. Experience has educated my reactions. My hands move out of harm’s way. Bad idea. My face wins the race to the ground. The bridge of my nose gushes blood.

The tired nurse appears in the doorway, smirking.

“The doctor is ready to see you.”