refreshment break

‘Take ten minutes to grab a coffee and stretch your legs,’ the catheter nurse said. ‘Go outside, get some air. When you come back we’ll be set for the practical.’
There was a big queue for the coffee. I noticed a door leading outside into a small square garden. I went through the door, walked over to a bench on the far side, and sat down.
The sides of the square were formed by two stories of dark-glassed offices connected by a continuous walkway. Now and then someone came out of one office, hurried along the walkway with a folder of stuff, and disappeared into another office. Other than that, you wouldn’t know anyone was there at all. In the centre of the square was a large, circular fountain, with chlorinated water piping out of the top in five thin streams. There were no fish in the pond – not even any debris. The sun shone down on the surface of the pool making it seem like liquid blue glass. Around the pond were a selection of thick-leaved, drought-resistant bushes, and a simple grey path.
It was unnerving sitting there, nothing to do, no book to read, no shade against the sun. I couldn’t get over the feeling I was being watched from behind any of those glass windows. I felt the urge to check my phone, not because it needed checking, but because it would give me a reason for sitting there.
The fountain wasn’t helping. Maybe if it had been planted up with stuff, some life in there, I would’ve felt more relaxed. As it was, I stood up again, hoping that whoever was watching would think I’d forgotten something.
I walked back towards the door.
A woman was coming out. She’d brought a jug of water with her, and knelt down to fill two ceramic dishes beneath one of the bushes.
‘Are they for the birds?’ I said, holding the door.
I wanted to say something else, but it took me too long to think about it and the moment passed, so I went in.
It was only when I was back in the training room  that I thought about the birds again.
Why wouldn’t they drink from the fountain?
Maybe it was difficult for them to perch on the side? And anyway, that water probably had all kinds of chemicals in it to keep the fountain clean.
I imagined her watching the birds through a dark window, specifically coming outside to put water out.
‘Refreshed?’ said the catheter nurse. ‘Let’s crack on.’

2 thoughts on “refreshment break

  1. Talking about birds – last year we went to a raptor centre & saw a display of different birds of prey they’d rescued – one of them a Bald Eagle. I had no idea they were SO big! When it flew over it blocked out the sun (as I recall…). Stunning.


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