He was in the hospital for just shy of two weeks. He hadn’t meant to stay that long, if you follow the rules they let you out right away, but he stayed the first few days and he liked the room he had and he liked the food enough and he liked the quiet so he just kept not following the rules and he read his books and he let the blinds stay open and the sun would come through the windows in the morning and fill the room yellow. The room didn’t have a door which was the only big downside. It didn’t have a bathroom door either, or anything that could be taken apart or any sharp corners or anything high up that could hold the average person’s weight, not that he would’ve tried it in here anyway.
In his two weeks there he didn’t make any real friends and he made one enemy. Her name was Trisha and she wasn’t a real enemy but she was chaotic and liked to try and pick fights and she tried to pick one with him, not that he responded, but even the try made her the enemy. Anyway the one friend he made was Andy, he wasn’t a friend I mean, I know I said he didn’t make friends, but to Andy, he was a friend so in that way I guess.
Anyway, in the two weeks, Andy was the only one who came into his room, besides the nurses and the doctor. He didn’t invite Andy in but he didn’t have the heart to ask him to leave and it became a habit and that was that. Every now and then Andy would come in and tell him a story or just stare out the window or talk nonsense or sometimes sit on the bed with him. He let him because he looked like someone who used to be important to him and having someone was better than nothing he guessed.
At one point, early on, Andy said into the window that didn’t open, that he was done with the medication. Andy said he didn’t feel like it was helping and it made him frustrated and fuzzy and now he was done. He sat there and looked at Andy who looked out the window and he waited for a little and neither said anything and Andy looked over at him and so he felt he had to say something and he picked “it’s up to you” which was true, though not the comfort or support Andy was probably searching for.
The next few days Andy got a little more erratic. His stories were more scattered and he was more angry and he could see him clenching his jaw. It wasn’t his job to be the therapist and he didn’t try to, so he just let Andy hang out or talk or cry sometimes, he never felt unsafe, if he had he would’ve told someone, but he didn’t so he didn’t.
A few days after that Andy came in with his head wrapped up in a sweater. It was one of the light mint green sweaters they’d give you at the front desk if you didn’t have warm clothes. The sweater was wrapped tightly, covering his face and parts of his head, though there were tufts of his hair coming out here and there. He came in like normal and he walked across the room, his eyes were peeking through a slit made by the sweater like a burka and he sat on the bed and he looked out the window and he waited for a long time to say anything and he never did and this was the first time he felt he had to say something to Andy and he chose “are you alright?” which wasn’t perfect but it got to the point and Andy said “they keep looking at me like they know what I’m thinking” and he waited to respond but then he chose “fuck em” which was an odd choice because he didn’t normally swear, nor did he necessarily think ill of any of them, Trisha notwithstanding, but he had heard Andy say it in the past and he thought this would ground him a little or at least endear him maybe. Andy said “fuck em” and then eventually he wandered out, without any more words.
At the end of his two weeks he got picked up and he left his hospital-issued socks with the grippy soles behind and he left his scratchy wool blanket and his white and yellow room without the shower curtain and without a mirror and he got marginally better and then worse and then better again and he leveled out like a lot of the lucky ones do and had a relatively normal next set of years. He would think of that two weeks sometimes when the light would come through the blinds on an especially bright morning, and he would eventually paint his bedroom the same color as that room had been, though not consciously, and maybe it was just a coincidence anyway. It would be 7 years later, before painting the room actually, but after not thinking about the two weeks in a while, that he would see Andy again. He would be at the train platform waiting for his after-work train that always seemed to be running late and he would see Andy walking towards him, his head staring down at the pavement and he’d watch Andy look up and see him and he’d keep his face still, and he’d watch Andy try to place him and he’d see, he’d think he’d saw, he’d be certain just for second he saw the blink of recognition, of placing him as the one in the bed who listened to his stories and his nonsense and who watched him turn into something sadder and smaller and who, at Andy’s lowest, left without any words and who looked at him in his sweater headscarf and then, at the train now, he saw the recognition give way to something like shame or hate or anger or something harsher and he watched Andy looked back down at the pavement, walking past him, as he waited for his train.