Short Story: Unnoticed

by Tilly Goldman

My name is Elizabeth Smith. If you’re reading this you probably already know what happened. Maybe you don’t. But this is what happened. What really actually happened.

It all started on Monday 19th September 1988.There was nothing unusual about the hospital. It was just like any old hospital. Of course we’ve all been to one sometime in the past.

It was quiet and blank, with only the occasional squeak of a trolley or hum of a machine. Oxygen bags hung onto frames next to sleeping patients. Wires and tubes pumping strange fluids into arms.

My Mother, lying limp in her death bed. My Father, sitting next to her, holding her hand and weeping. My Grandparents, nowhere to be seen.

Me trying to decide what to do next.

I pulled back the grey-blue curtain. I took a step to stand at the end of the bed.

My farther didn’t stir at all as I moved around the bed. His black eyes contrasted his red rimmed eyes. He kept muttering over and over, ‘not again. Not again.’ I had no idea what he meant at the time.

The rings on the curtain pole scraped. He looked up. A doctor stood there. Worry lines creased his forehead. Pity filled his eyes as he glanced from my father to me. He ran a hand through his badger-like hair. My father didn’t move his eyes from the doctor.

I had nowhere to go. But I was hungry; really hungry. So I headed to the cafĂ© in the hospital. I took my place in the queue behind a rather large woman in a black strappy top. I couldn’t help cringing!

As I approached the counter I glanced at the cakes and spied the hugest chocolate cake in all of human history. It was soooo mine! But the woman behind the counter didn’t look at me at all. She just looked straight past to the man behind me. I didn’t really understand why, but I was used to being ignored. By everyone. I didn’t bother trying to get her attention. It wouldn’t work. I’d already tried.

So I left the counter and went to sit in. it had been such a long time the corner of the room. I wondered what the doctor was telling my father. The doctor…he was the first person to notice me since, well I’m not sure. It had been such a long time. It was weird; he had looked at me as if he known me somehow. And the pity in his eyes hadn’t seemed like it was for my mother.

No one spared me a passing glance as I stood silently up from the table. Or as I walked down the white corridors. Or as, I pulled back the grey-blue curtain.

I gasped and stumbled back. My mother wasn’t there.

It was my father.

His hair was starch white and thinning. His skin was pale and crumpled. And his heart machine was nearly flat.

No one noticed me as I wept and screamed. Not as they bustled in and out adjusting tubes and wires. Not as they checked the machines that crowded around the bed. Not as they…

The doctor with the badger-like hair stood staring at me. He hadn’t changed since I saw him an hour or so ago. The worry on his face made me cry harder. I didn’t understand!

How had this happened? What had happened? Where was I going?

I was running. Sprinting down the familiar white corridors. I didn’t know where to. I just kept running.

My father. MY Father! He…he was dying. Just like my mother.

I slow to a brisk walk.

Everywhere is different. It should be different. But everywhere isn’t different like it should be.

As I walk everything speeds up. People changing, buildings growing, colours mixing, houses crumbling, my world spinning upside down.

My eyes start to focus on my surroundings as the tears dry. I was in a graveyard. Standing in front of a grave stone. My eyes were still a little cloudy, so I can just make out ‘RIP’ and ‘loving daughter 1976-1987’ engraved on the stone. This girl had died the year before my mother went into hospital.

Then I froze.

The world started turning, blood pumped in my ears, my hands shook, my knees trembled and gave in, leaving me in the damp uncut grass. I read the name inscribed on the gravestone,

‘Elizabeth Smith.’

The loose ends of my world started to tie together, why I had moved times from my mother’s death bed to my fathers. Why my father had been saying ‘Not again. Not again’ over my mother. Why I had never been noticed, except by the… the doctor with the badger-like hair stood at the entrance to the graveyard a few feet away.

He must be a ghost too.

He took my hand, and we walked out of the graveyard.


Together as ghosts.


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