What Do You See When You Draw?
by Melda L. Gibson

I don't remember how I got to the hospital. One day I am at home and the next day I am in the hospital. Mom had to take me because Dad was at work. Just for a check-up, she said. But now the doctors and nurses have decided to keep me.

It's not so bad. The hospital people are nice. I like the lollipop guy. There was no one like that at our apartment. Martin, who shares a room with me, says the lollipop guy's name is Dennis. Dennis never talks. He wears a round black hat and a big mustache. Sometimes Dennis lets me choose which lollipop I want. I always take the biggest one. They are all swirly with colors mixed in with the white; like the marbles my brother has that he calls swirls.

I get to wear my pajamas all the time unless I don't want to. I think that is a good rule. Mom got me new ones with bears on them. They are flannel for the winter. I eat ice cream, or Jell-O, once every day. That is another good rule they have here. Sometimes I have green Jell-O, sometimes I have chocolate ice cream. It depends on what I feel like that day.

* * * * *

Making friends

My room is big and white. Lots of white everywhere. White walls, white sheets, white pillows, white slippers. Sometimes I have to share my white room with someone and sometimes I am by myself. Things are always changing here. Martin wasn't always here. It's nice that he is here though because now we can talk and play things together. Martin and I can pretend we have our own rooms if we want. Sometimes the nurse will come and put the shower curtains between us. We each have a shower curtain attached to the ceiling. It makes a nice sound when you move them, all the little wheels moving on the track. The curtains are good if we want to make pictures. Then the pictures can be secret and we can both be surprised. Martin can read my mind. Sometimes he draws the same thing as me even when the curtains are closed.

There was a girl named Kimmy who shared my room once, but she didn't stay very long. Kimmy was always tired. Kimmy always thought that Strawberry Shortcake was too loud on TV. She used to sit quietly and color. She was not very fun.

* * * * *

The white clouds and the blue background and the yellow line

The yellow line on the floor. The line is to stop us kids from going across. It is where the parents can only go. I know that it is the way to my house because it's where my parents go when they leave.

I remember the one time that I went across. It was time for my parents to go but I wasn't finished showing them all the pictures I had made that day. They wouldn't wait until I was finished. They started leaving before I could show them the one of the birds flying up by the clouds. It was the best one.

So I decided to take the one of the birds out to show them. They were on the other side of the yellow line but not by much. I didn't think anyone would notice so I moved my wheelchair right over by the elevator door to stop Mom and Dad from leaving so soon. They told me to go back. I wasn't supposed to go across the yellow line. The doctors came and got me. They wouldn't listen about the pictures. Nobody would listen about the pictures. I started crying because I didn't want Mom and Dad to go. Why couldn't they just wait? The nurses were there now too, dragging me away from the elevator and the yellow line.

I called to my parents but they just got into the elevator and left. Mom was turned away from me and Dad was saying something to her and saying to me that they would be back in the morning in time for us to watch Mr. Dressup together. Mr. Dressup would have looked at my picture.

I tore the picture up. There, now they would never see it. What does it matter? They don't care. Nobody cares. Look at what they missed. It was beautiful. The birds were so far above everything floating through the white fluffy clouds on an all blue background.

* * * * *

What does bionic mean?

My legs don't work right. That's why I am here. I thought they were working fine but I am not a doctor. My legs work in a funny sort of way that is not like everyone else so they need to be fixed. It's my hips too. They are supposed work together with my legs like a team but mine are fighting with each other. Each wants to go their own way.

I don't remember the operations. Except for one time. They always have to put me to sleep first. They put on the mask that always smells like oranges. Sometimes I have orange dreams. But this time was different. This time I had a choice. I could use the mask or I could get a needle instead. I asked if the needle would smell like oranges and they said it wouldn't smell like anything. I tried it though. I went with the oranges mask every time after that.

That TV-show with the lady who is always jumping is on in my room again. When she jumps there is a sound like this. I don't like it. I want to watch Strawberry Shortcake, with the Purple bad guy, all wearing their big hats. They say that I will be like the lady in the show they always put on, always running and jumping. When I am fixed I will be better than before. I will be a good runner and jumper.

* * * * *

I am the pinecones

There are lots of metal things here. Everything is shiny silver. My brother is interested in the metal things. He is always tracing them with his finger, and following where they go, like those puzzles in my workbooks where the fisherman has three poles leading to three different color fish and the lines are all tangled.

I have many different ways to walk. I can use a walker or a wheelchair or crutches or --- I remember when I was really little my Dad used to carry me way up high on his shoulders. Now he can't do that because of the casts.

I am weighed down with the weights. They pull me slowly to the end of the bed. They do it in a secret way so that I never notice until Mom or Dad or one of the nurses is pulling me up to the top of the bed again. I am like Grampy's cuckoo clock. The metal pinecones move down to the floor during the day and each night after supper Grampy pulls on the chain that makes them move back up to the top. I am like the pinecones.

* * * * *

At first I was There and now I am Here. Who knows where I will be next?

I don't know how long I will be here in the hospital. Nobody tells me how long this will go on for. It has been a long time already. Two hospital Christmases. Mom always says it will be ok but how does she know? She never spent Christmas in the hospital before. I am worried that Santa wouldn't be able to find me here. He is used to me being at home with my family and bringing everything all at once for us. And there are so many kids here that some other girl might get my stuff by accident. Like mean Jessica. Jessica won't let me use the green crayon because she knows that it's my favorite. I have to color my grass brown and my trees blue.

I think about the places I will run to and the things that I will jump. I want to get new bike too because with new legs you need a new bike. I will probably be an even better biker than before but maybe not, because you never see that lady on the show riding on a bike.

Melda L. Gibson was not late at all, but early.


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