What Do You See When You Draw?
by Melda L. Gibson
I don't remember how I got to the hospital. One day I am at home and the next
day I am in the hospital. Mom had to take me because Dad was at work. Just for a
check-up, she said. But now the doctors and nurses have decided to keep me.
It's not so bad. The hospital people are nice. I like the lollipop guy. There
was no one like that at our apartment. Martin, who shares a room with me, says
the lollipop guy's name is Dennis. Dennis never talks. He wears a round black
hat and a big mustache. Sometimes Dennis lets me choose which lollipop I want. I
always take the biggest one. They are all swirly with colors mixed in with the
white; like the marbles my brother has that he calls swirls.
I get to wear my pajamas all the time unless I don't want to. I think that is a
good rule. Mom got me new ones with bears on them. They are flannel for the
winter. I eat ice cream, or Jell-O, once every day. That is another good rule
they have here. Sometimes I have green Jell-O, sometimes I have chocolate ice
cream. It depends on what I feel like that day.
* * * * *
My room is big and white. Lots of white everywhere. White walls, white sheets,
white pillows, white slippers. Sometimes I have to share my white room with
someone and sometimes I am by myself. Things are always changing here. Martin
wasn't always here. It's nice that he is here though because now we can talk and
play things together. Martin and I can pretend we have our own rooms if we want.
Sometimes the nurse will come and put the shower curtains between us. We each
have a shower curtain attached to the ceiling. It makes a nice sound when you
move them, all the little wheels moving on the track. The curtains are good if
we want to make pictures. Then the pictures can be secret and we can both be
surprised. Martin can read my mind. Sometimes he draws the same thing as me even
when the curtains are closed.
There was a girl named Kimmy who shared my room once, but she didn't stay very
long. Kimmy was always tired. Kimmy always thought that Strawberry Shortcake was
too loud on TV. She used to sit quietly and color. She was not very fun.
* * * * *
The white clouds and the blue background and the yellow line
The yellow line on the floor. The line is to stop us kids from going across. It
is where the parents can only go. I know that it is the way to my house because
it's where my parents go when they leave.
I remember the one time that I went across. It was time for my parents to go
but I wasn't finished showing them all the pictures I had made that day. They
wouldn't wait until I was finished. They started leaving before I could show
them the one of the birds flying up by the clouds. It was the best one.
So I decided to take the one of the birds out to show them. They were on the
other side of the yellow line but not by much. I didn't think anyone would
notice so I moved my wheelchair right over by the elevator door to stop Mom and
Dad from leaving so soon. They told me to go back. I wasn't supposed to go
across the yellow line. The doctors came and got me. They wouldn't listen about
the pictures. Nobody would listen about the pictures. I started crying because I
didn't want Mom and Dad to go. Why couldn't they just wait? The nurses were
there now too, dragging me away from the elevator and the yellow line.
I called to my parents but they just got into the elevator and left. Mom was
turned away from me and Dad was saying something to her and saying to me that
they would be back in the morning in time for us to watch Mr. Dressup together.
Mr. Dressup would have looked at my picture.
I tore the picture up. There, now they would never see it. What does it matter?
They don't care. Nobody cares. Look at what they missed. It was beautiful. The
birds were so far above everything floating through the white fluffy clouds on
an all blue background.
* * * * *
What does bionic mean?
My legs don't work right. That's why I am here. I thought they were working
fine but I am not a doctor. My legs work in a funny sort of way that is not like
everyone else so they need to be fixed. It's my hips too. They are supposed work
together with my legs like a team but mine are fighting with each other. Each
wants to go their own way.
I don't remember the operations. Except for one time. They always have to put
me to sleep first. They put on the mask that always smells like oranges.
Sometimes I have orange dreams. But this time was different. This time I had a
choice. I could use the mask or I could get a needle instead. I asked if the
needle would smell like oranges and they said it wouldn't smell like anything. I
tried it though. I went with the oranges mask every time after that.
That TV-show with the lady who is always jumping is on in my room again. When
she jumps there is a sound like this. I don't like it. I want to watch
Strawberry Shortcake, with the Purple bad guy, all wearing their big hats. They
say that I will be like the lady in the show they always put on, always running
and jumping. When I am fixed I will be better than before. I will be a good
runner and jumper.
* * * * *
I am the pinecones
There are lots of metal things here. Everything is shiny silver. My brother is
interested in the metal things. He is always tracing them with his finger, and
following where they go, like those puzzles in my workbooks where the fisherman
has three poles leading to three different color fish and the lines are all
I have many different ways to walk. I can use a walker or a wheelchair or
crutches or --- I remember when I was really little my Dad used to carry me way
up high on his shoulders. Now he can't do that because of the casts.
I am weighed down with the weights. They pull me slowly to the end of the bed.
They do it in a secret way so that I never notice until Mom or Dad or one of the
nurses is pulling me up to the top of the bed again. I am like Grampy's cuckoo
clock. The metal pinecones move down to the floor during the day and each night
after supper Grampy pulls on the chain that makes them move back up to the top.
I am like the pinecones.
* * * * *
At first I was There and now I am Here. Who knows where I will be next?
I don't know how long I will be here in the hospital. Nobody tells me how long
this will go on for. It has been a long time already. Two hospital Christmases.
Mom always says it will be ok but how does she know? She never spent Christmas
in the hospital before. I am worried that Santa wouldn't be able to find me
here. He is used to me being at home with my family and bringing everything all
at once for us. And there are so many kids here that some other girl might get
my stuff by accident. Like mean Jessica. Jessica won't let me use the green
crayon because she knows that it's my favorite. I have to color my grass brown
and my trees blue.
I think about the places I will run to and the things that I will jump. I want
to get new bike too because with new legs you need a new bike. I will probably
be an even better biker than before but maybe not, because you never see that
lady on the show riding on a bike.
Melda L. Gibson was not late at all, but early.