What if that ambulance was coming for you?

My current home is about 2 miles away from a hospital. A little hill and a stretch of grass separate the house from the highway, which is lined by a wall of weeds, oak, pine and mulberry trees. Behind the double glazed windows, upstairs, I sip my coffee and stare at the dense foliage. I take my caffeine with a dose of green view. The windows stay closed, hard to believe but I can still hear the sirens and the jake breaks. One day, when I move away, I will have a serious case of Hill Street blues. First responder sirenes are background noise around here. The mockingbirds find a tune in those sounds, they try to repeat them occasionally. The deer ignore them, the squirrels ignore them, even the runt rabbit that took shelter in the backyard (abandonment issues, afraid of its own shadow) ignores them. The deafening sounds of firetrucks do nothing for those bunny ears.

I, on the other hand, am a different creature. When the wind blows from the west, or just before it rains, those sirens sound louder. They scream fear and they sound like too many. Somewhere out there, there is an emergency. And another, 20 minutes later. Some body needs help. And then another. People get into trouble all the time. The kind of trouble you need help and sirens to resolve. As I let the heavy realization sink in, an uncomfortable question floats to my mind. What if that ambulance was coming for me?

Eventually, it will be my turn. I will be carried away, helpless on my own, with loud sirens and EMS lights telling the world that this is a critical moment. The odds are, sooner or later, I will need help for myself or for a loved one. A disease, an accident, a natural disaster, a war. They’ll be coming for me, life is going to change, without my permission as always. I’ll be glad that they make all this fuss, that they speed, they run, they bother the whole neighborhood. Maybe they’ll give me a second chance to appreciate everything I have. I’ll suddenly understand that the mockingbirds are singing about how lucky we all are, might even join in and whistle some. The sounds of life will find open windows here. I’ll ignore the nuisance. When that ambulance comes for me, I want the reassurance of a good past. Even a blessing.




A writer and a scientist. More poetic in Portuguese than in English. Grateful for the different voices bestowed by all languages.

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Susana Teixeira

Susana Teixeira

A writer and a scientist. More poetic in Portuguese than in English. Grateful for the different voices bestowed by all languages.

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