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May 20, 2019

To fight. We all know what the word means, to take part in a struggle, to confront the enemy. But when you’re in pain, all you do is fight.

To stay alive.

For your friends, for your family, for your loved ones.

To give them hope.

To allow yourself some comfort in acknowledging that the pain will end if you keep fighting. 

But what if it doesn’t end.

What if the fighting is not enough.

What if the fighting is only a way of withholding only the ineffable.

The outcome that no one wishes to acknowledge, but will-eventually-happen.

What if-     “Miss.”

Sage dropped her pencil, turned away from her notebook and looked at the woman standing in front of her. As soon as Sage saw the scrubs and the woman’s long brunette hair braided into a messy French braid-Sage knew that it was Jane. The nurse who had been so kind to Sage since her first visit to the hospital. In the months since Jessica had visited the hospital, Jane had developed a fondness for Sage. Not just because of Sage’s adolescent age, but also because of Sage’s good-natural. Her good behaviors had allowed Sage more wriggle room then most of the other attendants at the hospital.

 In a sweet voice Jane spoke very clearly to Sage, “Sage, I let you stay an hour past visiting hours. You need to go home.”

 “I apologize for my prolonged visit, but may I ask for five more minutes. Then I promise to be out of your hair.”

Jane looked at her with soft eyes and she exhaled a heavy breath of air. Jane then held up her hand, with five fingers stretched out. “Five minutes, and not a second more.” Jane then walked out of the room and walked towards the corner of the hallway. Where Sage knew Jane would be seated on the bench counting down the seconds until the clock approached their agreed time.

Sage knew that Jane had a soft-spot for her since that day of their first encounter. When Sage had arrived 10 minutes late of the scheduled visiting hours. The usual hours Sage had grown accustomed to her senior year in high school could no longer meet her new schedule at university-which disappointed Sage deeply. She begged the old woman at the front desk to let her in. The old woman Mrs. Nein, who was a bash old nag and later was forced to retire from her position due to complaints from an outspoken coworker, opposed that Sage even be allowed five minutes in the room. Jane, who was on the other side of the counter, rearranging the stack of charts from today’s work, couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between that of the young and the old generation.

“Mrs. Nein, please, I only require five minutes.”

 “Like I said before, visiting hours are over and I ask you to leave before I call security.”

Hearing the word security Jane walked over to the counter and put herself in between Sage and the old nag.

 “Mrs. Nein, I find it highly unnecessary that we should get security involved. This woman clearly only wishes for a few moments with one of our patients. Who surely, if you could read the woman’s concern faced, must be that of a beloved family member or spouse.”

Mrs. Nein sat back in her chair and quickly glanced between Jane and Sage-who clearly looked without a doubt concerned and even distraught by their conversation.

“Fine. But she is your responsibility!” Mrs. Nein pointed her aged finger at Jane in a most disrespectful manner. A formality that was highly disapproved when Mrs. Nein was educated. But with age, one tends to forget the proper matters of respect, especially when dealing with that of the younger generation. “If this woman does anything that breaks the hospital guidelines. You'll find yourself out of a job!” Mrs. Nein then turned away from them and proceeded with that of her crossword puzzle that laid outstretched on her neatly configured desk.

From that day forward Sage only sought that of Jane when it came to her regular stops at the hospital. And Jane, who was always so sincere to Sage, greets her regularly with the most amused greeting before accompanying her towards the west wing of the hospital. Jane in their acquiescence throughout the years had shown nothing but kindness towards Sage. A kindness that Sage considered to be as rare as finding a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card or finding the first edition of Superman in Action Comics. This kindness that Jane displaced towards Sage had granted her extra time when others, such as Mrs. Nein, who have been more keen to offer nothing of the sort. Though others would be accustomed to take advantage of Jane's good-nature, Sage did nothing of the sort and did her best to show nothing but respect towards Jane. For Jane truly represented the motto of putting yourself in other people’s shoes.

Before Sage collected her things, she looked down at her notebook and scribbled the sentence she had formed. Letting her pencil flow between the neatly pressed lines of paper. -the fight is not worth it, if only we are to succumb to our pain.

When Sage finished her sentence she shut her notebook and placed it-among with her pencil-into her backpack. She then hoisted herself out of her seat and slung her backpack onto her shoulders. Before Sage walked towards the door her mind succumbed to the bright porcelain lights that glowed against the white painted walls of the narrow hallway. An allusion-Sage’s thought to represent the next stage that awaited the dying patients within their rooms. Sage wondered if the patients imagined the same picture when looking at the white walls and lights; envisioned heaven's golden gates on top of white clouds and a picturesque blue sky. God stretching his hand out towards his creation, welcoming them with the brightest smile. The idea of God and heaven, made Sage wonder at what point of pain does the religious embodiment of Jesus finally take over the wheel of suffering.

Sage walked towards the door and grabbed hold of the doorknob, using her hand to twist the cold knob around her fingers until she heard the click of the door. But before Sage pushed the door opened she realized in her forgetful nature that she had forgotten something. Sage walked back over to her chair, where on the right layed a circular table positioned near the front of the hospital bed. When Sage took a look at the hospital bed with its caged exterior and uncomfortable mattress-she reckoned couldn’t possibly soothe patients to sleep-and was remained of a clipped bird: incapable of flying. Sage shook the thought out of her mind and ran her hand down her backpack until she reached the front zipper, where inside layed a handmade card and a book, John Adams by David McCullough. She took the items out of her bag and placed them nearly on the table. The card was placed vertically in a standing position and the John Adams’ biography laid flat against the table. When the items were placed to Sage’s liking, she darted her eyes towards the still hand that laid near the railing of the bed. Carefully she placed her soft hand against the top of the patient’s knucks and ran her fingers against the ruff edges of the person’s worn out hand in a circular motion; wary of not wanting to wake the sleeping patient from their slumber. Sage then tentatively padded the hand and kissed the knuckles. Sage then looked at the patient’s sleeping face and a single tear cascaded down her rosy cheeks. Even after years of seeing him in this position, Sage still got choked up.

In a soft voice Sage spoke a line of remembrance, “To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.” Sage then used her oversized college pullover and whipped the side of her cheek in a swift motion. She then walked towards the door in a steady pace, pulled open the ajade door and walked down the hallway towards the exit. Jane-who sat in her familiar position-saw Sage passed and was about to reach out towards her, but held back. For Jane knew, after years of seeing Sage, that it wouldn’t be best to run after Sage in her emotional state. Instead Jane processed towards the room Sage had so quickly fled and decided to continue with her usual shift.

When Jane walked into the room to check the patient’s vitals she saw the card and book that laid on the table. Recollections, Jane had called them, for it was a familiar sight that Jane had grown accustomed to on Sage’s visits. Jane walked over to the table and picked up the card's fine outline of folded paper that bestowed-on the front cover-perfectly legible cursive handwriting. Jane knew that it was Sage’s writing for she only wrote in cursive. Jane read the front cover and a gloomy look transfixed on her face at the words, “For Dad.”  

Nicolette is studying Physiology with a minor in Health Promotion at Michigan State University. Planning to go to dental school, with her dream job to provide dental care to professional athletics and travel the world to provide assistance to those who don't have proper dental care. In addition, Nicolette is also a member of MSU Pre-Dental Club, MSU Chaarg, and MSU Relay. Nicolette's favorite pastime(s) is going to sporting events with her friends, photography and working out at her part-time job: IM West.
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