When you’re experiencing the peculiar blend of worry and boredom that attends an emergency waiting room, the strangest things start to attract your eye. I don’t know if it’s a search for stimulation, or paying more attention, but patterns and points of familiarity begin to appear.
For example, as I look around me now, I can see three people who I’m pretty sure I know from somewhere. I know I don’t, because I’ve heard their names called by receptionists and nurses as they are pulled in and out of triage and consultations, but each of them have hair, or facial features, or body types that are strongly reminiscent of people I have met.
I’ve heard several conversations that have sounded either like people I know or like conversations I’ve overheard elsewhere. The good news is that while this is disconcerting, it is also just my brain looking for anything to concentrate on other than the dull, crushing, monotony of waiting to be seen.
Far more disconcerting are the really strange things that have begun to draw my eye: the dark shivering shapes on the edge of my field of vision, or lurking in small clusters at the end of certain corridors away from the brightest lights. They have no features that I can ascertain, but they do seem to be focused in certain people in the room.
I don’t even know how long I’ve been here, to be honest. Isn’t that the problem with these spaces? They’re purely utilitarian, designed to be wipe-clean containers for the people waiting for healing, or at least diagnosis. There’s a mind-sapping banality to the décor and proceedings that has my brain focusing on everything and anything else other than how long I’ve been here.
To be honest, I can’t even remember what I’m doing here, other than waiting. I remember an accident, but for now I’m just waiting and watching, watching and waiting, feeling like they’re all just looking through me. I should probably get upset, but for now I’ll just keep waiting, and see who else turns up.