13 O’Clock

I lay in the bed in the hospital on the hill. From my window I could see the expanse of countryside below me stretching to the very edges of the horizon, peppered occasionally by small fluffy clouds with legs. I fancied I had been born here, seven years ago, in a fit of squeezing and blood loss and crying. I fancied also that I could remember this introduction to the world: hills and sheep and cheap orange juice, kicked from the dinner tray, spilled all over the maternity ward floor. Disastrous and beautiful.

To my left the windowsill beneath this picturesque scene was adorned with books: children’s hospital books, of different sizes and colours. The title ’13 O’Clock’ drew my attention. A paradox to a 7 year old; a clock that reached 13? Decadent, interesting. To my right 12 junior doctors smiled at me with a romanticised patheticism. I wondered if they’d ever heard of a clock that had reached 13. They would see many after me, but today I was one of their firsts. One of a hundred thousand… though it always hurts the first time. Their white coats, rugged clipboards and bespeckled faces were the very height of nineties medical fashion. Later they’d retire into the staff room and fuck each other until the windowsills were dripping with sweat. My windowsill was covered with books.

I lay in my white vest and pants and wondered at the marvel of the hospital. I had been here before, but never to be seen, to be treated. It was an adventure. The orange streetlamps had glistened in the window on the drive, the faint hum of Queen fading into the distance with every frantic turn. Here my bed was my ship, the junior doctors my crew. They took notes not on my medical requirements, but on how to drive a harpoon into a giant octopus’s eye. Their smiles were not of apparent total disinterest, but instead had developed from years of seafaring and general exploration. Their smiles were of the weary and battle-hallowed, and I was to trust them with my life.

They stuck needles in the back of my hand and drew my blood every hour, on the hour. My parents offered me Pepsi that tasted like blood, and kept me waiting with promises of Christmas Eve. The night bought with it majesty and darkness; the x-ray screens would grow dim and then bright with the passing of time. In the morning my Father asked if I should like to read a book. Picking ’13 O’Clock’ from the windowsill, the excitement caused my vision to swim, and my heart to begin screaming yes. But with the defiant perseverance of a seven year old waiting in the hospital, I abruptly found my mouth mumbling no.

Reading would hurt my eyes, tire my brain, I said, swell my heart, relieve the ache of my illness. This was my ship and I was it’s captain, I would sacrifice my joy for the sake of my crew. I didn’t think I was ill, not really, but the promise of blood Pepsi for every minute I lay in my vest was too alluring. My sacrifice would gain their respect and loyalty. I would refuse to read but consume their attention willingly.

We returned the book to the windowsill.

Thus, years later it would be proven not be the thousands of needles which would penetrate my flesh, nor the blood tests which blackened the ends of my fingers which were found the most painful. The quiet acceptance of a lifetime of the strange would be acceptable by comparison to the ache of the book long lost, a regret at the futility of a seven year olds logic, punished by the sadness of a lifetime. I had stood proudly upon my ship as it had sank to the bottom of a lake filled with blood Pepsi. 14 years later I remain, drowning leisurely.

The streetlamps had glistened on the drive home. They did not shine as brightly as before.

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About Anna

Author of the Insanity Aquarium. Current fears include time as a concept, the squishiness of my right eyeball, and not being able to open this jar.
This entry was posted in Darkness and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to 13 O’Clock

  1. Pingback: The DAFNE Diaries Part IV: Friday & Conclusions « Bunny Waffles

  2. Wow, that was definitely captivating. You’re an amazing writer!

    Like

  3. Anna,
    Your writing is captivating and inspiring. I hung on to every word.

    Like

  4. Pete Howorth says:

    Because I miss you, I have written a story in your honour.

    http://writingasylum.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/the-insanity-aquarium/

    Like

  5. Anna says:

    Ladies and gentlespoons, just to let you know, there will not be an Aquarium Mondays post tomorrow as I am still in the process of moving into my new house and the internet people shan’t be along until Tuesday. I shall therefore endeavour to write an extra-special post for next Monday… provided my head doesn’t implode from house-moving stress. Seriously, though. Boxes of mugs are stressful.

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  6. This one’s quite successful and effective. Difficulties are so amplified through our eyes when we are children. I’m so impressed with your ability to be “in control of being out of control”, like having the discipline to fashion a window into an unreal world that still feels real, by using your own experiences. Neat trick. I’m going to study it.

    Like

  7. Yo.

    Thought you might like to know about Love All Blogs – http://loveallblogs.com/

    It’s a showcase blog where you can submit some posts and get them, well, showcased. There are loads of categories – art, craft, humour, IT and a new writer category that I am sort of in charge of! – so feel free to submit something. Same goes for anyone else reading this and feel free to spread the word.

    It’s not an official thing where hordes of professionals will be scouring your submissions for mistakes, just something being run by a couple of blogger people I know.

    Use the ‘Click here to join the next showcase’ button to submit something. The very first time you submit something there is another link to click but the instructions are easy to follow.

    The showcase updates each Monday and you need to get your submissions in by Friday night. Feel free to submit something each week and you can submit more than one post as well. Doesn’t matter how old the post is.

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    • Anna says:

      So we don’t have to write a new post, we can just showcase a post that we have already posted on our own blogs? I only ask because if so, that’s awesome! I sometimes struggle for time writing stories which is why I only post once a week, so if we don’t have to write anything new for the showcase blog, I might just sign up! :D

      Like

    • Nope, you can submit any post you want!

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  8. Pete Howorth says:

    I’m not sure, but I think you can sue Pepsi for selling you cans of coke that taste like blood. Or perhaps it was a different brand than what they usually produce?

    I remember not liking Dr Pepper as a child but absolutely love it now. Maybe our taste buds change over time…

    Is this the book you were referencing? http://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-OClock-James-Stimson/dp/0811848396 She looks like you :P

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    • Anna says:

      Thing is though, I still think that Pepsi tastes like blood! And I have no idea if it’s the right book. I don’t think I’d buy it just incase it’s not. I’ve locked the book away in that box in my mind labelled ‘Do not open’. It might just have to stay there, for the sake of my sanity!

      Edit: No, it isn’t the right one, it would have to have been published before 1997.

      Like

    • Pete Howorth says:

      Damn I shall continue the search!

      Like

    • Anna says:

      I don’t know if I do want to search for it. Thinking about it makes my head feel funny.

      Like

    • Pete Howorth says:

      Then I shall find it, destroy every copy then go to the authors house and kill them. I’m the Ass. Man. of Sales at Yeomans! I can get blades!

      Like

  9. Another beautiful work of art.

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  10. A good story this one. Has a sinister, distressing feel to it.

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    • Anna says:

      Thank you. Michael. I’ll admit that was what I was hoping for and I wasn’t sure if I’d achieved it. It’s always the way with the more personal stories.

      Like

    • Team Oyeniyi says:

      I was trying to find the right words – you nailed it Michael.

      Anna, excellent work!

      Like

  11. darkjade68 says:

    Hmm, if there’s any truth to this, it’s normal for you to be angry at your parents if you were stuck in the Hospital at 7… Whether they had good intent, or not.

    And, there’s nothing to feel guilty about, in regards to not wanting your Dad to read the book… And, there’s no need to regret not letting him read it… You were upset, scared, angry, and generally alone… And, you were only 7.

    A very Dark, and Sad Piece

    Hopefully there’s more Art in this, than Reality… However, in respects to the Reality, you are Great, and we can not choose who our parents are, or the Medical Conditions that come with our Genetics… However, being someone whose had there share of Medical issues, Anger is completely normal… In fact, it’s an Act of Survival

    If this is mostly Art, than it is quite Dark, but Dark is your Norm, and it is of course, Written very well

    DarkJade-

    Like

    • Anna says:

      I was never angry at them; I was mostly excited and then shocked when I was covered in needles! Thanks ever so much for your comment, DarkJade. It would hurt a little to admit how much was truth and how much is not. It isn’t something I much like to think about. Those awful, tiny things.

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    • darkjade68 says:

      Well then, in that case, here’s to Transcending our Dark and Sorted Pasts , in the Name of Higher Art… And, in doing, may the Pain of the Distant Realities Associated with them, Find a Resting Place, in Both our Souls… And in our Hearts.

      I’m afraid the Mind is on its own, lol

      But as I am a Co-Conspirator in this Game Called Life… May your Journey be Long, and without Further Incident… At least, Incidents that might bring you more Pain than Needed… Or is Literary-aly Required :) lol

      Eyes Closed, we Sail on

      DarkJade-

      Like

  12. Anne Schilde says:

    I shall I have to drown with you, Captain, as I’ve never read Thirteen O’Clock either. On the other hand, I can lighten up our watery demise with the saga of a new Pepsi-puncturing breed of vampire. Loved ♥ the octopus!

    Like

    • Anna says:

      Then we shall find our demise together, Sailor! Onwards into the sweet embrace of death and potato-flavoured drinks.

      Like

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Aye aye!

      Cap’n did I ever tell yer about the Legend o’ the Vamps o’the Ward? Aye right creepy fuckers they were too, almost day-walkers, and all dressed up in… gimme a sip o’yer tater mead there… ah… where was we? Oh yeah, dressed up in their white coats. Frocks they was really, mid-calf things yer ought to shudder over. All kinds of fancy stuff they had about their heads and necks too… to confuse you, but you could still tell they was can-pokers, aye? Yer know the type. Generation X. Always looking to sink their fangs into summat.

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  13. So, is blood Pepsi like blood diamonds? Do they cut off hands if not enough cases of it are delivered to the store before the big game? I hope so.
    Oh, fine story by the way.

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    • Anna says:

      I’m not sure, though I have heard they make it from the sweet, sweet blood of beheaded unicrons.

      And thank you!

      Like

  14. I love this story. It leaves so many unanswered questions for me. Is it true? Do you have diabetes, Are you okay? Did you ever found out what the book was about? I guess that’s what a good writer does; leaves you wondering. Thanks.

    Like

    • Anna says:

      I do certainly have Diabetes, though I’d like to leave the rest to the haze of the distant past. Memory or fabrication? Maybe some of each. Or maybe I can’t bring myself to answer it.

      Thank you as always for your comment Mr Dykie :)

      Like

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