Thank You, Robust Floors
by Brian Robert Flynn

Exsanguinating gasps and diminishing parental queries aside, the dawn silence dissipates to a mutter. This Saturday, these children could have been on a sofa anywhere not so utterly clean. Rather, somewhere liveable: The smell of French toast and bacon wafting over comfort’s thick serenity; watching cartoons instead of breathing final ohms out of this quick-tempered hell.

Instead, the telephones are ringing. Here we count little time, only moments and shortness of breath. No Saturdays, no lunchtime, no weekends. Or maybe the weekend bleeds faster, the extra time on our hands more time with which to overdose, for dogs and snakes to bite, for drunk drivers and drug users, dealers and churchgoers—Yes it’s true, somehow four Christmas carollers ended up in the ER.

Yes, we count Christmastime. A few greeting cards and mistletoe hang above the nurse’s station. Tinsel guards the registration desk. In some otherworldly regularity, a Saturday afternoon in December conjures images of almost anything else—leisurely time at a leisurely pace, a movie line, waiting for an open table in a posh new restaurant, the TV at the bar with the ballgame on.

But not this, not the timed captures on the closed caption feed of another ambulance arriving. Not the frequent beeping of an out-of-hand heartbeat growing worse. Not more spotless shock troops wearing surgical face masks prepping for defibrillation, the hurry of bodies on stretchers rolling over stained carpets and shiny, hospital grade flooring. Great floors. If only these floors could talk.

Thank you, vinyl composite floors: For keeping it real, keeping things level, keeping those of us traversing this realm of transition so firmly grounded. For keeping us safely floored as we wait in exigent hope for our turn or the return of our children. As we wait for news of life or death, noting glimpses of such news, hoping ours won’t be so notable. This cartoon-less Saturday, let us give thanks for your even-mindedness and precise stillness.

For your balanced reminder that we should thank the ceiling, if we must thank anything, for the screaming. For your Yang winning out against the Yin of ceiling’s noise-perforated closeness, so meticulously engineered. But for the faint, halogen whir of 1000 luxes squiring your steadfast watch, keeping your lookout from beneath cat scan machines, plastic-coated beds and bags of blood—we’re dearly thankful for your shine and solid sheen. For you, O robust floor.