The elevator slid slickly up to the fifth floor. My eyes were starting to sting with exhaustion, and I could feel my back aching. All I wanted to do was crawl into one of these hospital beds and fall asleep for the rest of the day.
My clothes had dried, but my shoes were still a hopeless cause. It was all I could hope that I wasn’t leaving wet marks whenever I walked. My hair had dried into a frizzy mess so I put it up in a lopsided bun and tried to wipe the old makeup from under my eyes.
I was sure I looked like a freak walking down the hallways.
The door dinged and opened. I sighed and slowly made my way out. I looked at the sign before taking a right glancing at all the rooms trying to find number 561; it was the very last room. I bit my lip and fingered the knob.
My mind wandered wondering what I was going to be doing with this boy, Joseph. I hoped he wouldn’t be shy; the last girl barely spoke two words to me the whole time, just stared up at me with big eyes. That hour would have been the worst if it weren’t for the nurse who kept a steady stream of conversation going.
Just before I was going to turn the knob and go in it quickly opened, revealing a nurse. I stumbled back, trying to stay out of the swinging door’s way.
“Oh my!” the nurse exclaimed when she saw me. “I’m so sorry, are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” I said politely to the nurse. I tried to get around her so I could go in and get this done with.
“Are you the volunteer?”
I turned around at the sound of her cheerful voice. “Yeah, I am.” I was still standing in the doorway of this boy’s room when she reached out and grabbed my arm pulling me gently away from the door and towards her.
My heart raced when I felt her cold grip on my arm. I took a deep breath and tried to resist pushing it off as a thousand memories slipped into my brain.
“He’s the most amazing little boy,” she said with a small, sad smile while I was still trying to calm my racing heart. “So sweet and kind and caring. He will truly touch your heart.”
I looked up at her eyes but quickly ducked my head when I saw the emotion burning in them.
“His outlook doesn’t look so good, the poor soul. I feel so bad for him.” Silence settled over us when I didn’t know what to say. How was I supposed to reply to that? The old nurse smiled slightly, seeming to sense my uneasiness. “Well, I best be letting you get in.”
She lightly patted my arm and was soon walking briskly down the hallway, only looking back for one fleeting moment.
Her words echoed in my mind, repeating themselves over and over. Part of me wanted to laugh. Through my sleep haze I could see how ridiculous the whole thing was.
The thought that a young boy could ‘touch my heart’.
The thought that anyone could touch my old, frosted over, and mangled heart was beyond ridiculous.
My shoes squeaked closer and closer to the door. I gently placed a hand on the door and pushed it open, curious to see this boy who the nurse had such high praise for.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t the thin, pale boy in front of me. He couldn’t have been more than four or five. His light brown hair was sticking up in all directions. Even from the doorway I could see the spots where it was thinning. His face looked hollowed around his big brown eyes and exceptionally pale.
I took that all in a second before his head whipped around to me when he heard the door open. His thin lips curled up exposing a row of pearly white teeth. “Hello.” His soft, musical voice drifted through the room.