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The Man by the window



The prompt was a two-bed hospital ward, one bed by the window.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man, on the other side of the room, had to spend all his time on his back.

The two men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their military service -- the events of their lives.

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window was allowed to sit up, he would describe to his roommate all the things he could see outside.

The man in the other bed would eagerly await those one-hour periods. His world would be broadened and enlightened by the description of all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a quiet lake. Ducks and swans played on the water and children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm under the trees. A view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in detail, the man on his back would close his eyes and visualize the scene.

One afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the man on his back couldn't hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye through the words of the man by the window.

Days and weeks went by. One morning, the nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the man by the window had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

After a time, the man on his back asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the change, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. It faced a blank wall.

The End

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