the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

  Authors & Artists


Faces & Voices 4
Faces & Voices 5

The Vistor
Richar A Fields, Jr
Decatur, Georgia - Accounting

        I stood up against the wall, my mind in a thousand places, staring at the distorted reflection of myself in the double metal doors. Physically, my face appeared as it always had (long, smooth skin, sleepy brown eyes, and full lips decorated with a pattern of hairs) but there was something missing. There was no life to it. It was simply an empty, expressionless countenance. I wondered if that was what she would see when I looked into her eyes.
        The light continued jumping from one bubble to the next, until it found its place and glowed in bubble number fourteen. The rising sensation came to a halt, and the double doors parted, splitting my image and revealing a short hallway. I filed off the elevator in line and followed the people ahead of me.
        It was cold. The floor, the walls, my body; everything. They had decorated the walls with pretty, colorful pictures painted by innocent children, but the portraits somehow failed to give me any feelings of comfort and joy. Foreign smells disagreeable to my senses flowed into my lungs like smoke every time I inhaled, and it made me want to breathe through my mouth. I glanced into the corner at a tall, plotted plant, and decided that it must have been the only true sign of a free, flourishing life in the entire place. Everything else was locked away in those cells, alone and dying.
        I was still gazing at the creation of Mother Nature when a young, attractive lady clad in scrubs passed behind me. I looked up and saw that everybody was following her, and involuntarily my feet began to proceed in the direction of the crowd.
        When the door was opened, I couldnít see her at first because other people were blocking my view, so I waited for everyone else to get situated. The short, light skinned woman sat down in a chair beside the bed, the towering dark man stood up beside her, and the skinny girl leaned up against his bulky frame. I walked around to the other side of the bed, and took a seat in a green leather chair. All of the furniture was now occupied.
        It was dark outside, and the small TV on the ceiling was playing old re-runs of ďGood Times.Ē
ĎAinít that some shit,í I thought to myself, and then quickly asked for forgiveness inside my head. I always felt like I was in the presence of something holy when I was around her. I loved her for that.
        There was a sink and counter with various cleansing materials (obviously for the doctors because she could not get up to use them), an old tray of food, and a vase with purple flowers shooting out of its mouth. That made me smile. She had always loved flowers. In her small, shack sized house in North Carolina she had flowers everywhere, cluttering up what little space there was.
        I was still smiling when I looked over to the bed and saw an aging face poking out from under the sheets covered partially by an oxygen mask. Tubes ran from her mask to a machine standing rigidly beside the bed. Tubes ran out from the bottom of her sheets into a metal container. Tubes ran out from the side of her sheets, one end connected to a needle in her arm, the other connected to a plastic bag containing liquids. Tubes were everywhere. Her little olí body barely even took up half of the bed, and I wondered what awful sight I would see if I lifted the sheets from over her.
        I tried to put all those images into the back of my head, but they were so vivid and present. There was a conversation going on, but my thoughts were elsewhere. What was there to say? Stories of my lifeís troubles didnít seem appropriate at the time, and I didnít feel like making jokes. Thatís when she began her story.
        Last night, she had been resting in the dark, but not really resting because she didnít even go to sleep anymore; she couldnít. The door had been propped open as it always was at night, and something had happened. A man had appeared behind the door. He didnít say anything, he just stood there behind the door in darkness. She was terrified. She screamed for the doctor as loud as she could. When the doctor arrived, there was nothing, and no one there.
        I sat there as I had been before, silent and solemn, picturing her screaming at the top of her lungs. It scared me. And then I thought about the visitor who had come to her in the middle of the night. He came quietly and suddenly like death, and then disappeared into the darkness. I couldnít believe that he was real, but he must have been.

© 2002 Howard University
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse, Prose & Art, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2002. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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