I walked down the long corridor to his room feeling very apprehensive. What would he look like? Would his mental faculties be intact? I didn’t know what to expect. The harsh hospital disinfectant smell penetrated my nose before I reached his room. I saw his name on the door, then slowly pushed it opened and walked in. His bed was the second from the door and closest to the window, and the curtain that separated the two beds was drawn, so I was not able to see him. I approached slowly. I could see his legs sticking out of the end of his bed. Colorful pins protruded from his toes, as if his feet were macabre pincushions. I hesitated on one side of the gauzy beige hospital curtain, trying to think of what to say. The first bed was empty and the sparse light in the room came from the window next to Chris’s bed. I didn’t know if he heard me enter or if he was sleeping.
I began in a very low voice. "Hi, Chris, you don’t know me, but I was one of the medical team that brought you to the hospital on the night of your accident. I was in the hospital today and thought I would stop by to say hello and see how you’re doing. My name is Susan." I didn’t pull the curtain opened immediately, respecting his privacy, but after a silence he slowly said.
"I know your voice. I’ve heard it before. I know your voice. It was your voice I heard at my accident. It kept me alive."
For the first time in a long while, I knew I didn’t need to say anything. A powerful, humbling experience was ours.
Our contest was inspired by the book One Amazing Thing, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, available at Barnes & Noble.