Sunday, 28 February 2010

The House Call

The light barely seeped past the windowpane, so weak were the rays after pushing through countless elemental barriers: clouds, rain, fog. It traveled just far enough to make visible the limp and lifeless form draped over the back of that old wooden chair in my living room. I stood in the corner opposite, hands crossed over my stomach. “This looks serious,” I thought, affecting agony in the tone of my inner voice, which clanged and clattered against the interior wall of my hollow body, creating an unsettling echo.

For some unknown length of time, I’ve been rushing past it. Its lethargic shape now gathering traces of dark grey dust in its creases. Every day it has become a little more deflated and, I am realizing just now, smaller as well. It used to be as tall as I, but now it’s barely larger than a paper bag. I have kept telling myself that I will get around to it as I hurry out the door for another grueling day, but no appropriate solution had of yet struck me.

On this particular morning, I found I had been staring at it for an unusually long time and for some unknown reason, perhaps it was the dreariness of the day wholly permeating the empty room inside, I could take it no more. I determined to try to find a remedy for this mere remnant of a substance.

As if solution followed need, it suddenly dawned on me that my physician made house calls, and before I knew it I was fumbling around for his card. After having just finally located his number, somewhere in my peripheral vision I noticed a subtle movement from the back of that old chair. Perhaps a wind had blown in the atmosphere outside, perhaps that invisible force set off a chain reaction of events, as wind sent clouds gently shifting, allowing that tiny shard of light to charge into my living room, which in turn fell onto the nearly deceased, arousing it ever so slightly towards the warmth, a movement that subsequently sent a shadow cascading across its folds, which then caught my eye as I was rummaging around for the doctor's business card. Who can say precisely what it was I saw?

Dialing the number, I realized that with each movement I took I seemed to become further enveloped in a sense of urgency. I heard my voice gaining momentum until it finally culminated in a desperate pleading over the telephone, as I tried to explain the condition of this poor soul hanging morbidly listless over the back of my living room chair, “This is an emergency. Please, come quickly. I am beside myself!” The doctor, much calmer than I, asked if now was a good time and within thirty minutes, his knock rattled my front door. As I rushed to answer it, I nearly tripped over the edge of the form in my chair.

When we walked into my living room, that figure which had been a mere pitiful scrap of a thing had markedly invigorated, as if someone had blown into it, like a balloon, with air. The doctor nodded a greeting to the patient before groping around in his bag, his arm nearly disappearing in that enigmatically deep cavern, before pulling out his stethoscope. At first I questioned his judgment. What on earth he would hear in that corpse? This was useless, a lost cause. But to my utter amazement and joy I saw what he most certainly had seen, a rhythmic movement that could only be attributable to respiration. I nearly hopped in place as I realized that things were looking up, and more so with every passing moment.

By the time the doctor rose to leave, he didn't even leave his patient a prescription. The prognosis was good, a full recovery.

Both of us walked him to the door. The doctor tipped his head again, signaling his departing salutation, as he stepped out underneath a cloudless sky. We closed the door behind him and returned to a brightly lit living room and an empty chair.