The prompt was: “Write a piece where nothing takes place outside of a small room. Describe the interior and its occupants, but don’t go outside the room.” This autobiographical piece is what I wrote:
The sign on the wall reads “This is Doable” in calligraphed letters decorated with colored pencil filagree. A hospital bed surrounded with medical paraphernalia: monitors, drip cart, oxygen, and hospital work station dominate the floor space.
The man in bed has a tube running from an infusion pump to a portal inserted at a vein between neck and chest. He is resting as an exorbitantly-expensive liquid laced with Interleukin-2 is pumped into his bloodstream. He looks pensive, but does not appear to be suffering pain.
A woman stands by his bedside. She is slender, maybe thin, and the lines on her face seem to say, “Yes, dammit, I am worried!” She fidgets and says, “Are you feeling OK? Can I get you some tea or more water?”
Without waiting for an answer, she hands him the Starbucks cup and says, “Here take this water; you need to stay hydrated.”
The man is thinking, “Amazing that getting medicine by infusion doesn’t hurt. I cannot even feel it. Thank god for small blessings. I’m not thirsty and don’t want this water — best to drink a sip and set it back on the tray. I wish she wouldn’t worry about me so much.”
A week in a small hospital room for IL-2 is like that: Full of tiny interactions and non-events. Minutes go by so slowly…