Sunday, January 13, 2013

< RM > story - The Window

The Window

There were once two men, both seriously
ill, in the same small room of a great hospi-
tal. Quite a small room, it had one window
looking out on the world. One of the men, as
part of his treatment, was allowed to sit up in
bed for an hour in the afternoon (something
to do with draining the fluid from his lungs).
His bed was next to the window. But the
other man had to spend all his time flat on
his back.
Every afternoon when the man next to the
window was propped up for his hour, he
would pass the time by describing what he
could see outside. The window apparently
overlooked a park where there was a lake.
There were ducks and swans in the lake, and
children came to throw them bread and sail
model boats. Young lovers walked hand in
hand beneath the trees, and there were flow-
ers and stretches of grass, games of Softball.
And at the back, behind the fringe of trees,
was a fine view of the city skyline.
The man on his back would listen to the
other man describe all of this, enjoying every
minute. He heard how a child nearly fell into
the lake, and how beautiful the girls were in
their summer dresses. His friend's descrip-
tions eventually made him feel he could
almost see what was happening outside.
Then one fine afternoon, the thought struck
him: Why should the man next to the window
have all the pleasure of seeing what was
going on? Why shouldn't he get the chance?
He felt ashamed, but the more he tried not to
think like that, the worse he wanted a
change. He'd do anything! One night as he
stared at the ceiling, the other man sudden-
ly woke up, coughing and choking, his hands
groping for the button that would bring the
nurse running. But the man watched without
moving-even when the sound of breathing
stopped. In the morning, the nurse found the
other man dead, and quietly took his body
As soon as it seemed decent, the man
asked if he could be switched to the bed next
to the window. So they moved him, tucked
him in, and made him quite comfortable. The
minute they left, he propped himself up on
one elbow, painfully and laboriously, and
looked out the window. It faced a blank wall.

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