Word Prompt: Comfort | Story Prompt: from the book “Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures” by Vincent Lam

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“5:25 – Suddenly awake

“Dr. Chen.”

A face, a curtain pulled aside, I can’t see who.


“Dr. Chen!”

“Yeah. I’m awake!” A panic, a heart-pounding proclamation, “I’m awake!” Did I say that twice? I’m not sure what I said and what I dreamt.

“Brady at thirty. Pressure of fifty on nothing. ETA three minutes.

The voice: I think it’s a nurse. Where’re my glasses? Did I fall asleep? Of course I did – that strange instant sleep I can’t remember happening, where one second I had the awareness of waterfalls and curtains, then now this fuzzy face-voice. Shit, where are my glasses? Brady at thirty. Probably new heart block. Stumble into shoes. My feet night-swollen, I stuff my wallet, my Palm Pilot into pockets. The nausea. Where the heck — Oh, screw the glasses. No, I need the glasses, I can’t run this thing blind.

Sick feeling.

I stand at the sink. Heave, dry heave, spit, gargle a little water. Feels a bit better. Stunned, echoing awakeness. Brady. Jeez, couldn’t wait a few hours? I feel around the tray, then the cart next to it. I pad around until I feel the wire of my glasses. Aha! Once on my face, they make the light glaring, hard. Now that I can see, I realize my headache.

I check my watch. I slept half an hour. Fifteen more minutes would have been great. There’s such a difference between half an hour of sleep and forty-five minutes, forty-five minutes and an hour, an hour and two. Two hours is bliss, a revelation of humanity, a soft dawning morning. An hour is enough — enough that the night has been broken and I can stand on it, casually shuffle my feet over its back. Forty-five minutes is like a deep breath, like a good sigh, a fresh drink, but it is just a moment’s reprieve and sad in its ending. Half an hour is laying down and being smacked awake, then the sick feeling.

Dry heave. Hands on the sink. The motion of vomiting feels good, as if expelling the nausea although nothing comes out. Spit. Rinse.

Shuffle down the hall, face greasy-cold.

“Dr. Chen!” It is Magdalena, coming down the hall. It was also her before, I realize. Her voice is more urgent, and I seem to hear better now that I have my glasses.

“Oh, yes, I’m awake. I’m fine, I’m awake.”

“The brady-hypotensive just pulled up.”

“Excellent. That’s just great,” I say with thick-tongued deliberateness. “Thank you, Magdalena.”

Shuffle faster.”


The last week of summertime is just winding down, with the equinox (and a full moon) happening this week. So much transition. Also here in Canada we have a federal election happening this week. More transition – although just how much transition remains to be seen.

In times of change, of transition, we can easily feel out of our “comfort zone”, and so we look for things that make us feel more comfortable. What if we were to be a little more curious about our discomfort? I wonder if we’d discover more about ourselves while investigating that curiosity. I find that free-writing helps me to uncover/discover what it is that I’m feeling discomfort over. Sometimes it is something that can be named, other times not so much. Other times it’s just some feeling deep in my gut, like the feeling you might have if you aren’t getting enough sleep and things just don’t seem “right”. Seriously though, fall is my favorite season and I do look forward to the time of year when you can consider a fire for warmth and turning the oven back on. How about you – what does the equinox mean to you? Share your thoughts below!

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