Charlie woke up in his hospital bed, feeling disoriented and groggy. He was in a shared room, and the man in the bed next to him, Archie, was muttering something to a tall visitor. Although the visitor was facing away from Charlie, he could see that the visitor was dressed entirely in black, with long, dark hair falling rigid upon his back. The clothes young people wore were ridiculous, thought Charlie. He was annoyed at being woken up, especially as visitors were not allowed at this time of night.
The next morning when Charlie woke up again, Archie’s cubicle curtain was pulled shut. Charlie intended to complain about what had happened. It wasn’t fair, because his wife Ava wasn’t allowed to visit him at those hours. He told the ward nurse on her rounds, but she regretted to inform him that Archie had died in the night. “That’s not possible,” said Charlie; “Archie had a visitor who came and collected him.” Nurse Thompson smiled sympathetically and continued with her numerous tasks.
The next evening, Charlie was woken again. This time the dark-clothed visitor was facing him, at the end of his bed. “Come with me,” he said, through a motionless mouth on a long, pale face. “Ava is visiting me in a few hours,” objected Charlie. “She’ll be fine,” was the short reply.
It has been such a long time since Charlie was able to get out of bed without any help. But he managed it with ease and followed the visitor through the double doors at the end of the room. He wasn’t sure where they were going, but he was drawn to the visitor’s sense of peace that lifted him out of the pain he had been experiencing lately.