Sounds from a Hospital Room

A machine starts up and then stops. There is a long pause, and then it is there again, gaining power for a moment, stopping again. It continues over and over, unable to reach the critical point, like a fly dying on the window sill, buzzing to life, only to end up on its back, eventually dead. But this fly never stops. A technician checks on it. All seems in working order.

There is the air conditioner too, quietly rattling, surging, like waves coming into each other, briefly chaotic and then together, then spreading out. It is a normal sound, like the talk down the halls and laughter, wheels of a passing gurney, buckets opened, doors closed, indistinct clicks and things dropped. 

And then there are the two notes of another machine, a higher note followed by another an octave below. More is to come. But it never does. There are just these two notes and then silence, the air conditioner, the dying machine, and everything else. Food service is on the way.

The notes again, higher and an octave below, but the concert never starts. The technician edges back into my room. “Lunch?” “Just not hungry. Thank you.”

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