The Window

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man  was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluids from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and   families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military  service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the  man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed would live for those one-hour periods where  his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and  color of the outside world. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water while  children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite  detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.  Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive  words. Unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head: Why should hehave all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see  anything? It didn’t seem fair. As the thought fermented, the man felt  ashamed at first. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He   began to brood and found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that  window – and that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night, as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window  began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man   watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running. In less than five minutes, the coughing and choking  stopped, along with the sound of breathing. Now, there was only silence–deathly silence.

The following morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendant to take it away–no  words, no fuss. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he  could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his   first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.


5 Responses

  1. Great. Nice job. 🙂

  2. Yet another captivating story by the lovely Freddie. 🙂

  3. Thanks camper… 🙂

    Hey Fire, Din’t see you for a while. How are you?? and your children?

    Remember Gladys Hobson?? She has started a new blog. Do visit her when you get time.

  4. Hey,

    Thanks for your comment.

    My blog is just a place for me to have some fun- none of the opinions are serious.

    Your story is great and I love the twist. If I can offer some advice regarding the style of it, I always avoid repetition of any word, if possible.
    Instead of repeatedly referring to them as ‘the man by window’ or ‘the man’, find another way to let the reader know you have switched focus between them:

    ‘From over by the window, he spoke of…. as his new friend listened in awe…. sitting upright, he was able to….

    Just talking about the surrounding circumstances so that it is obvious to the reader. I always try to build a strong foundation and then trust the reader to figure it out.

    Also, you might give the characters extra description to ‘cloak’ the switch between them- hair, eyes etc (but I think this story works better your way- if they are simple then they do not take the emphasis away from the moral.

    I like it a lot. Keep it up.

  5. This story is really special, and worthy of publication to a wider audience. I loved it, and took the liberty of sending it to friends and family (with proper credentials, of course).

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