BY SERENA LAFAVE
The walls are white and a strong smell of antibacterial solution and soft gauze saturates the air. There are oh so many of us, this ER is actually a hallway with roller beds up against the wall; so many of us, curled up with a papery blanket guarding us from reality. From the truth we hid, for it was too painful and too exhausting for our delicate and feeble state. This is an empty, hurting place between life and death.
Here, the lights never ever dim. 3am is as good as 3pm. Though the bulbs may tire, emitting a soft buzzing sound, they are promptly replaced. We cringe under the bright light, creatures of the dark; it burns our eyes and glistens upon our teardrops. Ours stories all differ, but here we have one undeniable thing in common. Whether we were born into the wrong world, or simply butchered by this one, whether we jumped into the black depths to drown, or dined on poison, we have gathered here unwillingly with one initial desire: death.
To “normal” beings, death is an utterly terrifying and unpleasant phenomenon. It is something inevitable, but sought to be postponed until the very last possible moment. It is scary and upsetting and unfortunate.
To us, however, death paints a very different picture in our minds. In fact, the artist needs only one color: nothing. There is absolute silence, absolute darkness, no pain or thoughts or feelings. And one great wish of us all: no consciousness. Weak, stupid, worthless, selfish… these words have no meaning to a rotting body. Loved ones leaving you, trusted friends betraying you and loneliness also do not affect a dead mass of cells. In fact, for some of us, life and death are exactly the same… except death is painless. It is only the transition between the two that is scary or painful to us. Death itself is simply permanent slumber.
The prize of death we jumped for, across the crevasse in the earth, but missed. Had we not jumped hard enough, or maybe jumped with hesitation? Or had we hit a brick wall on the other side? Whichever, we had fallen into the freezing, icy river, raging and bottomless. Others drowned happily, and ultimately reached the other side. But we, we are different. We swam. We flailed and cried and fought the tide. And now, our eyes closed and our skin pale, we lie motionless in this hall. But we are still breathing. We are still hurting. Tears still roll from our eyes. The dread and pain that fills us proves we are alive for the moment.
And nothing will ever be the same.