The Transit Lounge

photo of alley during daytime

She awoke flapping around like a wet fish. Emma fought her way back to some sort of cognition and realised she had had a fall.  On her stomach heading down hill.  And where was that bloody dog. The pain in her left shoulder was intense, although didn’t worry her right away. She had tripped and gone head and left shoulder first into a fence. Not just an ordinary fence but a brick one with metal inserts.  God what were they trying to keep out. Emma struggled to sit up and saw the dog circling her, barking at some young men who had come to her assistance. A woman appeared and between them they called an ambulance.

For the second time in two years she found herself in the emergency ward of the local hospital. Scans MRI’s, old fashioned x-rays.  Her face bloodied and bruised, cleaned up and glued back together. Despite being knocked out there was no concussion and she was allowed home. It was later in the week a telephone call from the emergency department informed her that her left shoulder was fractured. A scan showed the extent of the damage and the day after visiting the fracture clinic as the hospital she was in surgery with what she was told, was fairly complex surgery.

She loved the public hospital system, for all its faults and there are some, the food better have some nutritional value because it is disgusting, it has to be the best in the world. The surgeon she saw for about 5 minutes. But he was not any old surgeon, he was the superman of shoulder surgery. Using the latest in pain management. Tall and good looking to boot. She was sure that if had leisure time he did something cool. Emma thought he might surf but mixed martial arts sounds a better fit. And that’s all she needed to know. She didn’t want her bubbles bursting.

Emma awoke this time somewhat euphoric, not in all dancing and singing way, but just relaxed, not worried about the past or future but just the nice slow, drowsy present.  She was aware of her surroundings and a dull throb in my shoulder. But there was nothing to be fearful of. In retrospect, the drugs were doing their job. All was going along as it should until discharge the following day.  There was some delay in gathering all her drugs to take home so she found herself being wheeled into the “Transit Lounge”.

Images of a futuristic bar in some galactic pit stop leapt into her mind. Like in a Star Wars movie. Giant glass windows looking out onto a foreign universe. Populated by a diverse range of creatures of different sizes and shape. Space craft of all sizes whizzing around, some coming some going.

Or maybe an art deco hotel in Paris in the 30’s, the Salle de Transit, a world of spies and glamour, intrigue and romance. Of refugees and Army Officers. Of emigres and titles.  People coming and going, uncertainty about the future. Who would still be there the next night? Flight, exile, death. All possible, most unknown. A man and a woman elegantly dressed, drinking champagne from those shallow wide brimmed glasses called coupes. The wait staff in the crisp white and black uniforms topping up drinks and taking orders. Men in uniform. People watching people. Images from an Alan Furst novel keep entering her head.  

Instead she found myself in a rather large spare bits cupboard. It was a square room with no windows. It was full of chairs which looked like this was their second or third home. All colours all shapes. There were four men, sitting in chairs on the left of the room and another man on a trolley to her right.

There were two nurses behind a barrier to the front of the room. There was a TV, and a toilet. No public policy imperatives to spend any money on the room, to make it calming or relaxing. They were either waiting, like her, for drugs, or to be picked up, like the guy on the trolley who was waiting for an ambulance to return him to his nursing home.

But it was warm and the large green chair was surprisingly comfortable and as she relaxed into her chair and the murmur of the men’s conversation washed over her, she went to sleep.  And dreamed of where she had been.

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