Baxter Hayes 2019

The Swan

20 years later…

Ernie

Ernie was running late for work, again. He had no intention to lose another job due to his laziness and lack of punctuality. Despite the fact that he had no love for his job he needed a way to earn money.

As he flew along the street on his motorbike he glanced at his watch, only five minutes before he was meant to arrive. Ernie swore under his breath. The seconds felt like hours, but he now it felt like he was getting closer to his goal.

His work was just around the corner, he would arrive late by only a few minutes. Then all of sudden as he sped around the final corner, Ernie saw out of his peripheral vison a car coming straight at him. He should have stopped but he did not care whether someone was late because of him so he continued, hoping they would stop. The car hit him. It felt like being smashed by a boulder. There was no way he could regain control of the bike at the speed he was going. He tried but it was a futile effort. He attempted a dismount but hit the ground on one leg awkwardly and started to fall. As he hit the asphalt, he could no longer feel anything.

Ernie opened his eyes and looked around. He could not make out any details and the only things he could feel were the steady bumps of a moving vehicle and, with a rush of pain, he realised the horrible agony inside his right leg.

“Where am I?” Ernie said trying desperately to keep the pain out of his voice.

“You’re in an ambulance, we collected you after the accident,” said a voice near him.

Ernie realised he was not alone in the ambulance. There was a paramedic next to him. He was just about to ask another question when suddenly his vision started to fade in and out of focus. Ernie closed his eyes.

He woke to find himself waiting in emergency at the hospital. His leg was becoming unbearably painful as the painkillers the paramedics gave him started to wear off. After waiting for only ten minutes Ernie could not take it any longer.

“Where is the doctor? Why can I not see him yet?” he demanded to no one in particular.

One of the orderlies rushed over.

 “You have been placed in a queue,” the orderly said. “Some people have worse injuries than you, please try and keep calm”.

“I can’t, my leg feels as though it has been ripped off,” said Ernie in pain.

“I’m afraid you will just have to wait,” said the orderly getting frustrated with Ernie’s attitude.

“I must see the doctor now!” Ernie yelled at the orderly.

The orderly, starting to get annoyed responded “Sir, some people are worse off than you. Some of them were even in the same accident you caused!” 

“I do not care whether they are in more pain than me, my leg is in need of medical treatment now!” Said Ernie forcefully.

Then someone else called out and the orderly, glad of the opportunity went over to them and Ernie was left furious in his time of need.

Peter

Peter worked as a doctor. He had decided this when, about twenty years ago in high school he had been unfairly tormented and belittled by two older boys named Ernie and Raymond. This had caused him to live in pain and fear whenever the bullies took interest in him. Peter did not want others to be forced to live like this so he had trained as and eventually been appointed, at a very young age, a doctor. Since then, Peter had helped many people who were suffering to get back on their feet and live happier lives.

He arrived at the emergency department and got ready for the day to come. Once he was ready some of the orderlies wheeled in a new patient.

“The patient has been prepped,” said a nurse.

Ernie was watching the doctor carefully, waiting to be given the needle to put him to sleep. When the doctor turned around Ernie recognised him instantly. Peter Watson. The same Peter Watson he had mercilessly bullied throughout high school.

Peter had devoted his life to helping people but here in front of him was the person who was responsible for the world of pain he had been forced to endure. Peter was struck with conflicting emotions. Though he was bound by an oath to help people, this person had inflicted so much misery on others he wondered whether he was doing anyone a favour.

“Oh no,” thought Ernie, remembering the countless times he had hurt Peter.

“Once I give you the needle, you are required to count backwards from ten out loud.” Instructed the nurse.

Ernie felt the sharp point of the needle bury in his arm. By then it was too late to object. Ernie started to feel the effects of the anesthetic take hold of him.

“Wait,” he tried to say, but all that came out was a mumble.

Ernie’s eyes were wide and terrified. He was about to be operated on by the person he had bullied most of his life and was powerless to stop him.

Peter had the chance to do anything to Ernie, the bully who had caused made him suffer for all of his childhood. But unlike Ernie, Peter believed that everyone, no matter the crime deserved a second chance at redemption so he took a deep breath and started to gather his equipment.