Tonight’s Prompt from Wednesday Afternoon Writers:
Write a scene where an object changes in some way.
Setting: In an institution of some sort
Object: a letter (We each had a different object)
Opening line: Have a seat, but not there…(We each had a different opening line.)
St George’s Eyeballs
“Have a seat, but not there,” ordered the matron dressed in white from head to toe pointing to the wooden chair I was not to sit in. She looked as if she had stepped out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Yes, she could be Nurse Ratched. I knew better than to disobey her.
As I settled myself on the metal chair covered in green slippery plastic that would soon be sticking to my thighs, I held the letter of order in my hand. It had arrived two weeks prior in a brown envelope that I had to sign and had to admit that I was who I am and that I had actually received it and that I wouldn’t say I lost it or that I never got it. I opened the envelope with a kitchen knife slicing through the fold on the top being careful not to segment what was inside.
The letterhead was not what one would call welcoming. Large, boxy red letters announced the name of the hospital – ST. GEORGE’S SANITORIUM FOR THE INFRIM. It made my skin crawl. Was a sanatorium different from a sanatarium or a sanitarium? What had made them “infirm”? Why was St. George chosen as the mascot? Wasn’t he the one who slew the dragons? And what dragons were laying in wait for me?
The letter simply listed the date and time I was to appear in the main lobby. I would be met and shown to the appropriate room where I would receive more information. It was signed in a scribble I couldn’t read. Luckily underneath the signature was the printed name: Horace B. Hammersmith. Following the name were the compulsory letters that stood for something important like PhD or DDS. But those were not the initials gracing this letter. The letters, all in caps except for one, wagged their tongue at me issuing a warning: DEDu. I made a mental note to ask Mr. Hammersmith, DEDu, when we met what in the world those initials meant.
There was no clock in the room, only a ticking that made it seem like a bomb was waiting for the right person to arrive before it met its destiny. The walls were a sickly, fading turquoise with splotches of yellow turning green here and there in no apparent pattern. Two long skinny windows reached from the ceiling to the floor and had bars, oddly, running horizontally with roll shades that could be latched down at the bottom. A small white table next to the window held some magazines that looked as if they were from the 1940’s. They were movie magazines featuring actors and actresses who were unknown to me from films I had never seen or heard of.
My breathing was just starting to return to normal, when I noticed a small shelf of tiny objects on the wall opposite me between the window and the table. Standing to head-off a skin pealing from sitting too long on the vinyl chair, I realized my hand was clutching the letter, crumpling it between my palm and fingers. Thinking that I might need to show it to someone else, I flattened it out against my chest as I approached the shelf.
It wasn’t the fact that the objects were disgusting that made me gasp. They could have easily been in any science lab anywhere. What was disturbing was their size. In tiny bottles filled with some type of preservative were tiny eyeballs. People eyeballs. They were not baby eyeballs. They were adult eyeballs. There were blue irises and hazel. There were brown ones and, possibly, a black one, if there is such a thing. But they were small, to the point of minute.
How? Was all I could wonder as the door behind me slammed shut making me jump, bumping my head on the shelf sending all the tiny bottles to the floor with the appropriate tinkling as the glass sprinkled, the liquid spread, and the tiny eyeballs rolled around littering the linoleum squares as if it were some perverted pool table.
“Don’t move!” ordered the deep, velvet voice from behind me.
At this command, I simply attempted to straighten myself up. Moving too quickly I lost my balance. I knocked over the table of magazines sending them to the floor along with the letter which now lay soaking up some of the mystery liquid and began oozing red from the bold and boxy letterhead as if St. George himself had a hand in the debacle.