Editorâ€™s note: This is the third installment of the fiction story â€œInside the Hollow Sun,â€ which will appear every week in Verve throughout the semester.
I couldnâ€™t stop scratching at the bandages. This was the third time Iâ€™d had to replace them since Friday. They would start out on my wrists white like the hallways of the trauma center. They were a type of white that held hope that first time Iâ€™d gone to therapy. The first time I saw Elizabeth. I could still rememberâ€”
â€œCan I help you?â€ the receptionist had asked.
â€œUh, yeah actually,â€ Iâ€™d replied, â€œIâ€™m here for therapy.â€ She looked at me for a moment, wanting something I couldnâ€™t guess.
â€œGreat. Name please?â€
My nerves had control. â€œOh,â€ I nodded, â€œHarrison Knapp-Hem.â€ She looked back down to her computer and started typing.
â€œGo back to the elevator, but take a left at the hallway just before it,â€ she said without looking up from her monitor. â€œYou want room 534, Dr. Clermont.â€
â€œThanks,â€ I said as I turned around and headed back through the lobby. The receptionistâ€™s directions took me through a small white hallway filled with people. They were sitting in chairs, waiting. Everything looked clean, and like it had a place. It was the same type of comfort a hospital gives. I went to the end of the hall and sat down in a chair next to 534. A girl sat across from me next to 533.
I opened a book Iâ€™d brought and pretended to read. I started glancing up from time to time, trying to catch her eye, but she seemed to be staring somewhere. I made sure to tilt the cover of my book toward her anyway. Iâ€™d brought an old hard copy of â€œThe Great Gatsbyâ€ even though Iâ€™d only read the sequel, â€œGatsbyâ€™s Manor.â€ Blinking seemed rare for her, and I didnâ€™t notice her eyes ever shift in any direction other than straight. I finally risked staring. Her eyes were glassy and completely gray.
I heard 534 creak open behind me and a voice leaked out, â€œMr. Knapp-Hem?â€ Dr. Clermont entered the hallway. He was an older man, freshly shaven with thin, graying hair on his head. His eyes were droopy, and I stood up to face him.
â€œYeah, thatâ€™s me,â€ I said.
â€œRight this way,â€ he replied with a sweeping gesture. I followed him into room 534. I turned back and saw a man stick his head out of 533.
â€œElizabeth?â€ the man asked the girl as Dr. Clermont shut his office door behind me.
I noticed I was scratching again. Parts of my bandages had turned from white to a pinkish red. I grabbed my phone and dialed Elizabeth. Her vision impairment had left her absent from the world of text messaging.
â€œHey, itâ€™s Harrison.â€
â€œHey, whatâ€™s up?â€
â€œI need help changing my bandages. Can I come over?â€
â€œFor Christâ€™s sake, Harrison, again?â€
â€œYeah, I promise Iâ€™ll leave them alone this time,â€ I lied, â€œI just want them to be fresh for therapy.â€
â€œIâ€™ll help you in the morning when you pick me up. Iâ€™m going to bed now, goodnight.â€
â€œCome on,â€ I pleaded before hearing a click. She had hung up.
F_iction writer Justin Goodfellow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org_