The Intensive Ward

By H.A. Luck

I got sick. People do. The way they fall in love. Suddenly and with drama. They put me in the intensive care unit for six weeks, four doctors deciding and undeciding about what to do. This was all pretty dramatic stuff to me. Four doctors in lab coats stroking their chins over me lying there, me run through with tubes. I had not been the center of any kind of attention for as long as I could remember. At one point I was stood up and leaned over some piece of hospital furniture and something slid into my back and they drained me of something and I was bent over laughing, the color of what came out looking cool, frothy and refreshing. I tried to explain that the golden pint of the fluid drawn off my lungs was the staff of life.

The drugs were cooperating, mostly, but I was coming cold turkey off several years of drinking amounts that I would be ashamed to mention, but in my secret places was proud to know. I was strapped down at times; evidently I had shown a knack for pulling out tubes and wires and freeing myself as well as other patients.

And so I navigated nightmares baited with fish hooks and plastic lures and feeling as if I was alone in a hostile schoolroom. Matters pressing slid. A night nurse swam with me, through underground tunnels and Victorian houses that had seen sin and were rife with its murmured secrets, an old chaise lounge, an attic full of twisted toys. I remember her red hair and thick white thighs. I remember the sweet kiss of the painkiller she rammed in while whispering nobody should be alone. Other things happened but night work is funny. I was drowning during those long machine nights, hooked up to tubes, knowing that all the madness in the world would not make me whole again.

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H.A. Luck was raised and educated in Baltimore, Maryland and attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He currently lives in Bern, Switzerland, where he is a writer and teacher.

9 thoughts on “The Intensive Ward”

  1. Nicely written sir…That frothy sluice sounding decidedly disgusting… Glad you made it through and turned it into an interesting short story…bravo!

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