Hospitals always gave me the creeps. And unfortunately for me, that’s where I ended up spending a lot of my time after my parents divorced.
I ended up living with my mother who worked as a nurse in the local ER, usually on a shift that went on into the evening,
so for a lot of late nights I would be hanging out in the ER waiting room doing my homework and thinking of asking my dad if I could move in with him even though he now lived three states away.
Being in the ER waiting room I got to see a lot of things,
ranging people walking in through the front doors holding their own severed thumb in a thermos to hysterical young housewives insisting that they had an emergency because little Timmy fell
and bumped his head slightly. It wasn’t the gore that gave me the creeps; I was fine with that, but the sterile, cold atmosphere of the place. But worst of all - the sounds.
Often times you hear the moans of a critically ill patient in the distance, or the shrieks of pain from someone getting treated, or the hushed, grave whispers of the nursing staff.
But I could argue the place was creepiest when it was dead quiet.
Even though I wasn’t supposed to, I often left the waiting room to wander the hospital halls just to get away from the silence.
I was comforted by the usual hallway sounds – the echo of my footsteps, the occasional beeping of a machine, a page over the PA system in the distance.
Then there was the night a young woman in labor ran through the ER doors.
They began the delivery right away in the ER, I heard the doctor yell there was no time for a transfer to the OBGYN unit.
After about 20 minutes of pained shrieks and agonized screams, sudden silence. Overhearing some nurses not long after, I understood it had been a very late term miscarriage.
As the night progressed, it was one of those dead quiet nights, save for one sound – the echoing, muffled sobs of the woman.
Unable to stand it anymore, I got up and checked that the coast was clear before beginning another one of my long hallway walks.
It seemed silent, even by the usual standards. No calls came over the PA and even the beeping of machines seemed absent.
While walking down one of the halls towards a corner, I stopped when I heard an unexpected noise out of nowhere – it was only a moment but I was sure – the gurgle of a baby.
I looked around but saw no one; this was far from the pediatric unit. Why would there be a baby around here? I wondered.
I looked back in the direction I was headed, just in time to see the end of a bloody umbilical cord slowly drag around the corner and disappear.
I moved in with my dad two weeks later.