The first day, he went alone. He didn’t wanted to get anyone involved in his personal life and he wasn’t ready to share his fears with someone else. He was even unsure about the whole thing but finally decided to go because he had to now. At last, he was making some money and he was about to go and live by himself. He already had a new place, his first ever in which he would not be sharing space with his family or with other people. A tiny apartment just for him. He had made the calculations several times and he knew he was able to pull it off.
When he arrived to the hospital, they made him wait in a small room where all chairs were empty. No one else came that early to get tested. It was better like that, because he had no intention of running into anyone he knew and, besides, it was the only time he could pay a visit to the doctor without leaving his job. There was no way he was going to loose money to do that. He found a way to do it anyway and, after some time waiting, a nurse came for him.
She led him to an office were a doctor asked him several questions. They were all very personal questions but he understood why those questions needed to be asked. He wasn’t offended at all but he did feel a bit embarrassed because it was the first time he really discussed these things with someone. The silly conversations with his friends, didn’t really count because there was always a certain amount of lying involved in that.
Next, he was left alone in the office for a couple of minutes, time he took to take a look at the paintings in the room. There weren’t many. Most of the frames concerned some diploma or a family picture. But there were two actual paintings: one was the image of a field, probably wheat. The image seemed to have no end. In one side, little in the big space, there seem to be a couple of peasants, working in the field. Probably cutting some of the wheat or maybe taking care of something else.
The other painting was an abstract work. It had a few read lines and dot among a jungle of black geometrical figures. It was very tiring to watch because it was obvious the red in the picture was being overwhelmed by the black. He didn’t have to be a genius to know what the picture was about. He was about to get nearer to the painting when the doctor came back with all his equipment.
One by one, the doctor filled three small flasks with his patient’s blood. The process didn’t really took that long although it did seem longer for the man being drained out of blood because he suddenly felt dizzy and very weak. The person on the phone had told him he had to come without having anything to eat or drink. And now the doctor said he should do the opposite.
As he stepped out of the hospital, he had to walk very slowly. He didn’t feel good at all. Not only was his brain aching, his arm was in pain too. After all, the man had used a needle in it three times. He had no idea the amount of blood they needed for testing but he thought that, at least, he could assume the results were going to be accurate with the amount of blood they had to double check any findings.
He grabbed a taxi, which he never did, and asked to be taken to his work. He had money to pay but that expense meant he couldn’t so other things that week. A taxi ride was too much for him to handle on his low income and now more than ever, with the new place coming and the bills for that place and everything related to it. He was very happy to move out of his parents’ home but he was also worried that he would fail as an adult. After all, it had taken him thirty years to leave the nest.
Once he arrived at work, he was greeted by people who told him how bad he looked. He told them he had being at the hospital for a flu he was feeling coming, and that they had asked him to come without anything on his stomach. So he ran up to his desk, left his bag there and then ran to the kitchen where he poured himself some coffee and looked around for the messenger boy, who was normally around the office at that time.
He finally found him flirting with a secretary. Interrupting the conversation, he asked the boy to please go for him to the nearest store and buy him some things to eat for breakfast with his coffee. He gave the boy a bill and told him exactly what to buy. He also told him that he could have the change, which made the boy stand up fast and run out of the office in a huff. He returned to his office, a cubicle in corner of that floor, and started working. Yet, he realized he couldn’t do any working.
The boy returned soon and he was able to eat and feel a bit less weak but he didn’t do much that day at work. He felt very dizzy and even thought he was going to vomit at one point. He ran to the bathroom and, thankfully, no one saw him do that. He stayed in the bathroom for several minutes, drinking water and sprinkling his face too in order too cool down. It didn’t really work that much but he had no idea of what else to do.
That night, at home, he fell asleep fast. He was very tired. He just left his clothes all over the place and didn’t bother to have any dinner. When he woke up, he realized he had bled out of his nose, his pillow stained with a big puddle of dried blood. He was surprised he hadn’t been awake by the bleeding; yet he had been so tired that even that accident wouldn’t be significant enough to wake him up.
He threw away the pillow and washed the pillowcase. He threw that too after he realized the stain wouldn’t come off. He didn’t tell anything to his parents about it and they didn’t ask why he didn’t have a pillow in the following days. After all, he was about to move and maybe he was throwing the things he was going to replace once he was in his own environment. It was only a couple of weeks later when it happened.
His mother cried a lot, as if he was going away to the other side of the world. True, the apartment was not very close to his family’s place, but it was in the same city all the same. He asked them to visit once he was ready to receive visitors, in other words, once he would have furniture and glasses and plates and all that stuff that make some place a proper home. He moved out a Saturday and the following Sunday was a hard day to put everything in place and buy a lot of things, including a new pillow.
Mom and dad had given him some money to start and he was grateful for that because there was no way, with his salary, that he was going to be able to buy everything he needed for the new place. With that small help, he was able to make that place something he could be proud of. However, the weekend ended very soon and he had to work as he finished putting everything where it belonged. But by the third week there, he decided he could have a small gathering of friends and then ask his parents to visit him.
Those two couldn’t be done at the same time because of the size of the place, but he was thrilled to do it. He asked his friends to bring their own bottles of alcohol. There was no way he was paying for those. They had a very good time, joking around and even dancing in the small space. They had to end the party when a neighbor complained about the noise. Ironically, it was a neighbor that was always kind of drunk.
It was the following day, a Saturday and more than a month after his blood had been taken out, that he received a letter in his house. It was the first letter that he received there and it was kind of awful it had to be one from the hospital. Once he saw it, he wanted to open it. But then he remembered his family was coming for lunch. And he didn’t want that on his mind while he ate with them. So he put it away for the day and enjoyed his family.
He cooked that day. His mother tried to help every so often, but he wouldn’t let her. They had the best day ever, looking at old pictures, eating a lot and giving decoration ideas for the whole place. His parents wanted to be involved in some way and he wasn’t rejecting the idea at all. He needed them by his side.
The following day, alone, he opened the letter. He had known what it said long before he ever got tested. But to know was exactly how he thought it would feel: like a hot knife piercing through the skin. His life had been on a path for a long time and now, his eyes had been opened. What to do next?