This Is Why I Want to Die in the Woods (Literally or Metaphorically, I Don’t Give a Shit)
Because when you’re zipping along to the Emergency Room with your twenty-two-month-old son who’s on fire and the muscular middle-aged taxi guy originally from NYC, deep voice, great accent, asks: “Fast?” and you manage to say: “Yeah,” even though you and the sweat-soaked monkey clinging to your body aren’t strapped in, it’s raining, it’s the drunk hour, but fast feels right and you find that Emergency entrance way before you expected to where, with only a glance, security waves you through while the blood’s pumping, the scene’s unfolding, the bureaucracy’s looming, but a woman, not at all impressed by your urgency and protected by thick plastic, tells you to please and thank you wait behind an even thicker red line on the floor next to a sign reading Step 1, and from behind that line you can see another preoccupied woman behind a different protected window: Step 2, and then you see that the first woman is actually Step 3: Registration, and off to the right of these three steps you see the destroyer of scenes: The Waiting Room — FULL — dimly lit and hell on first-world earth, the waiting stretching to darker stretches of waiting you cannot see, so many sick children, sick scenes, perspective and humbling, so after you’ve given your son’s health card and the details of his damnable day and night to Step 2 and she tells you to take a seat, part of you thinks: How orderly, How civilized, How utterly disappointing to be forced to question the word — Emergency — and though you long ago lost the illusion of significance, it feels particularly cruel to be reminded of it just now, but you sit down and behave like the rest of them because sometimes you have to, because this isn’t about you, and you hold onto your son, you squeeze him, you whisper his favorite words into his ear while giving him your best voice, the voice of the man — the human being — you hoped you’d become, but your concentration’s faltering, you’re thinking about trees — a shit-ton of trees or something like them — while the only thing you’re becoming is preoccupied, obsessed, and not by this present, this future.
No, it just can’t be this waiting in this room this building with these strangers and these seen-it-all nurses and doctors and above all, I repeat, these strangers. No, thank you. Not this shared shabbiness. This modern and revolting truth. Death. My death. I want it to mean something. My death will be special. There will be trees.
When my son’s name is called, I hustle him gratefully towards their leafless light.
Kevin Tosca’s stories have appeared in Bateau, The Frogmore Papers, Litro Magazine, The Interpreter’s House, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the author of Poetry in Motion (Červená Barva Press, 2019), Ploieşti (Červená Barva Press, 2019), and My French (Analog Submission Press). After a decade in Europe, he now lives in Canada. Find him at kevintosca.com.
(Previous: Pervert by Shannon McLeod)
Feel like submitting? Check out our submission guidelines
A special issue exclusively for Writers of Colour – submission guidelines here
Image: Gustav Klimt Public Domain