Writer In Florence Ela Vasilescu

Day 59 – The story of my good friend, the stranger


While in the hospital, I’ve met a friend. Someone who’s name or suffering I don’t know but I felt close to him instantly. It’s weird to find yourself being touched by a stranger, a person whom you’ve never seen before nor will you ever see again.

The first day, when they were settling me into my room, I saw him walking very slowly on the hallway with two surgical drains attached to him; I was carried in a wheelchair. He smiled at me, I smiled back. The second day while walking towards the bathroom, I glanced into the other rooms and felt a chill down my spine seeing all the helpless old people, waiting for some kind of hope. He was in the hallway too. I tried to guess his age while he approached me in his walking ritual and gave him no more than thirty-five years old.  He grabbed my hand and whispered: “We shouldn’t be here!”. I looked into his eyes and nodded, smiling. A few hours later, while I was preparing to go into surgery, I saw him walking the hallway again and smiling at me while passing by my door; I smiled back and felt like I knew him my entire life. The third day, while they were convincing me to walk, I found him in the same place and realized I had to do the same thing as him: walk on the hallway, recover; so, he was recovering too, he had to do it every day and I was joining him from now on. He smiled at me and said hello and while I was smiling back, I thought that he was right; we were the only two young people on that floor. The next day I was fully dressed, packed and waiting for D to come and take me home. My mouth was widened in a dumb smile and I think anyone who came in contact with me that day, could have felt my relief and happiness. I looked towards the hallway at some point and met his eyes. I jumped (not really jumped) out of bed and went to talk to him. There he was, walking slowly with his two surgical drains attached to him, smiling in my direction, a sad smile this time. I asked him how he was feeling and he answered back: “It seems I have to stay a little bit longer. I had a fever last night. Maybe tomorrow I get to go home too.” I couldn’t bear to ask him anything else. I just made a stupid humming sound and told him I am sorry, wishing him the best of luck.

I have no idea why I felt like I knew him and why I considered him my friend instantly. I know absolutely nothing about him and although we had many occasions to ask each other our names or misfortunes, we didn’t, as if we didn’t want to spoil the feeling of understanding the pain we each had. Although I know nothing of him, I am sure that on the other side of the walls, if we were to see each other on the street, we would just smile, salute and share a fugitive unspoken memory of our hallway walks.

About the author

Ela Vasilescu

I’m a writer based in Florence, Italy.

Human nature inspires me, different cultures, traditions, folk stories and the differences which make us unique. Documenting stories is a privilege, a glimpse into humanity, an unforgettable experience, one which I embrace and honour every day.

If you have a story twitching in the back of your pocket, one that is ready to be told, shared and heard, chances are I will be ready to listen; so don’t hesitate to send me an email.

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Writer In Florence Ela Vasilescu