Beep. Beep. Beep.
A steady rhythm of the heart monitor.
I opened my eyes and I was back to the present. Blinding lights, the smell of sterilised linen, the sudden lock of the clamps in the surgeon's hand. I was in a theatre, the lady on the cold hard bed was having a baby.
At first there was the back of a head pushing through the incision in her belly then suddenly a wail, so loud it jolted something in me and I took a step back.
The first baby I saw delivered earlier that day was quiet, barely made a sound - it was alarming, of course. But this one, this one just shook the room with a single intake of breath. It was as if he was announcing his arrival to the world, bragging of all that he would become, all that he would accomplish.
I suddenly wondered if I came out into this world like that. What happened to my voice? I know. It was beaten out of me. Stolen by life, like all other things.
Now I just live each day, a ghost of a being. Ticking off every milestone needed to be considered a decent individual of society. School, university, a job and, maybe, somewhere along the line, a family. Maybe I'd be on this slab of metal being sliced open one day.
I blinked. My thoughts scattered once more. The doctor was suturing, the hooked needle going in with precise movement, the level of a detailed seamstress.
I looked around the room, blood soaked cloths, the forceps were in a metal bowl; viscous blood sliding down their metal curved surfaces looking like instruments of doom. Funny. They just helped bring a life to this world.
I turned again. Thread. Knot. Needle out. Less and less muscle until all I could see was a thin scar. The doctor took off her gloves and turned to me, eyes crinkling behind thin-rimmed wire glasses. She was old but her eyes were young; she saw much of the happiness and joy of this world in her job. She looked at me a second longer then said, "We're done for today. I'll see you tomorrow at 7 in the morning then."
I gave a stiff nod. My legs were cramping, my bad knee ached even worse and the room was cold. A shiver went down my spine as I gave another curtsied nod and a replied with a 'thank you' I doubt she even heard over the buzzing and chatter.
I collected my belongings and made my way to the exit. The bright afternoon sun made me shield my eyes and I caught a glimpse of a clear blue sky. My favourite lately, although I usually preferred the clouds.
My mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, yet again. I had lectures to catch up on and assignments to start. It often felt like I'm in a race where everyone reached the finish line except for me.
I live my days trying to catch up, to achieve something, hoping that by the end I'd be able to catch my breath - but no. At the end of that line is yet another path I must conquer and I'm always miles behind everyone. The effort never enough.
I let out a sigh. I was tired. I was exhausted.
I climbed down from the pavement to cross the road to where my car was parked and then suddenly felt a blow to my side. My eyes blurred. The world was upside down and my ears started to ring. A memory surfaced to the top unbidden.
“Look left and right. Check both roads”. My dad used to say.
“I always look,” my nine-year-old-self buffed out.
I always do.
My head was throbbing on the pavement. My ribs were broken and so were my dreams.
A tear slowly rolled down my cheek blurring my vision further. I still had so much to do. So much of life to see. So much to say - no. Wasn't that the problem? I was always looking out to the far future, forever planning ahead that I forgot to cherish my present. Regrets. Those memories stained every corner of my brain just as my blood did the ground beneath me.
I felt regret for not seeing what was before me. For not realising what I had in the moment. For being blinded by a future I wasn't going to have.
So much regret.