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Hospital Doorstep

A man sleeps in the sun on a bench across from the hospital. On the bench
diagonally opposed, across and beside him, an almost-doctor eats cold noodles.
The man has his pants low, half cracked, and his hands on his genitals. We all
sleep sometimes with a hand in our pants.

Across the street and inside silver doors, patients rest on foam boards. A few
sleep less peacefully than the man on his concrete. Some inside the hospital are
homeless. There’s a man inside who when asked about other problems (I meant
medical), he said, “My feet are dry.” We looked together. His heels flaked on the
bleached sheets. There’s a man with wild eyes and beard. I saw him standing
just inside his doorway, gowned in yellow (a visible color, for patients who
wander). Later I hurried by again. He stood in the same liminal place, arms at the
same tight angles, but in his own clothes.

“Is there anything that can be done for him?” A woman in a cardigan approached
and now asks my short white coat about the man on the bench.

“He’s going to get sunburned,” she says.

Is he breathing? I think instead of answer.

It’s hard to tell. It is still difficult for me to watch for chest rise and fall in someone
sleeping with hands down his pants. I don’t even know how to help the people in
the hospital.

“I’ll ask,” I try to say. My voice squeaks it into a question. The blonde bob follows
me inside. She informs security.

I remember later, peak out the seventh-floor window, and the man is gone.

Maggie Mass Maggie Mass (3 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Illinois College of Medicine

Maggie is a third year medical student at University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, IL class of 2022. In 2017, she graduated from University of Pittsburgh with Bachelors of Science & Arts in English and biology. She enjoys creative cooking, bike rides, and hammock naps in her free time. After graduating medical school, Maggie would like to pursue a career in Emergency Medicine.