“It’s awfully quiet,” Cheska said, before letting her lithe fingers leave my wrist. The nurse’s hands were free of rubber gloves the first time I saw her during my admission. This time, she was wearing an isolation gown which on her tiny frame looked more of a spacesuit. The mask concealed her lips and powder-white cheeks, hiding with it a patch of skin that I noticed previously was peeling, possibly from the changing weather. But her wide brown eyes is without protection, and in them I saw a smile flashing as she spoke.

“Don’t you watch TV?”

“I’ll open it after you leave,” I said, after a brief laugh.

I confessed to enjoying the quietness of the moment. It’s not often that I find myself wrapped in lingering silence. She suggested I do some “soul searching,” and as with the television I told her I would, even though I knew I wouldn’t. My soul wasn’t in need of being found.

But she was right in that, there in that quiet hospital room, was a chance to take a break from the daily rituals of answering emails and browsing a parade of Facebook feeds. I needed that escape from online noise, that time to connect with the present. And I could not remember when I last had lunch that way, consciously consuming a prepared meal and not having it as a sidedish to a television show. In this state of ever-connectedness, we seem to have grown more interested in what near-forgotten acquaintances are having for breakfast than what we are about to feed ourselves.

Two hours later, Cheska returned with the antibiotics and attached the IV. She told me about the difficulties of her job and I told her about the distresses of mine. We talked about her mom who worked in the same building where I do, and about my mom who worked at home most of her life. I told her I know little else besides writing computer programs, and she asked me if I could make her a website.

“What kind do you want?”

“One where I can sell products,” she answered. I told her I would, even though I knew I wouldn’t.

The nurse that came in the evening had short hair and wasn’t dressed in coveralls. She was also not as pretty. I was out of the hospital a day later and had seen neither since.


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