Celeste walked down the hall doing her checks. 9pm rounds were usually pretty quiet. Most of the residents were napping at this point in the night. Many of them would be awake around midnight, take a trip to the bathroom, and then go back to bed. Unable to sleep, they would turn on their televisions and watch late night tv until they fell asleep for another three hours or so.
Celeste loved the night shift because it was pretty quiet, save the occasional insomniac. The past few nights, she had noticed Mr. Kavendash was not sleeping. The first night, she thought he was just asleep in front of his tv but on the third night, she stepped in to find him wide awake, watching re-runs of 90s sitcoms on Nick at Night.
“Mr. Kavendash, is there anything I can do for you? Would you like me to get you a sleeping pill?”
“No. I lose my dreams when I use those things.” He answered very gruffly.
Celeste had to stifle a laugh. “Well, if there is anything I can get for you, please let me know.” She said and walked out the door to continue her rounds.
The rest of the floor was as it always was, quiet and uneventful. She was thankful that no one was sick and walked back to the nurse’s station to log in her rounds.
“Mr. Kavendash is on his third night.” She said to the nurse sitting in front of the computer.
“He’ll probably nap again from 5am to noon. He did that yesterday.”
Celeste shrugged her shoulders. She wondered how it would be when she reached that age. Would a nap from 5 am to noon be enough? What would Nick at Night be showing when she was in a nursing home? Reruns of Hannah Montana?
Her thoughts were interrupted when the call button lit up outside Mr. Kavendash’s room.
“I’ve got it Liz.” Celeste said and walked down the hall quickly.
She looked into the room and saw everything just as it was when she checked it thirty minutes ago. “Everything ok, Mr. Kavendash?”
“I suppose it’s ok. I just was sitting here watching this garbage television and I don’t get it. Ross is in love with Rachel but he’s afraid to tell her. What the hell did you see in this show when it was on before reruns?” He asked with a genuine sense of curiosity in his voice.
Celeste was caught a little off guard. “Well, I guess he’s afraid she won’t feel the same way.”
“Obviously. I guess I just don’t get that. He needs to take a risk and tell her.” he said feeling the frustration of half the country in the early 90s at Ross’ lack of courage.
“Well, he eventually does tell her.” Celeste said, feeling confident that Mr. Kavendash wouldn’t mind a spoiler or two.
“Why are you all so afraid to take risks?” He asked her point-blank.
Celeste sat down in the chair that faced his bed. She had to think about his question for a moment. It was not one she had really thought about. She thought about her own life and realized that there were things she was afraid to do because it was too risky. The trip cross-country; going back to school; learning to rock climb – all of those things were just too risky and that was why she never followed through on her talk about them.
“I don’t know Mr. Kavendash. I suppose there is safety in staying with what you know.”
He laughed out loud, a short burst of noise that filled the quiet room. “Of course it’s safe! Safe is boring. Why the hell are you all so worried about staying safe? Safe doesn’t really give you stories. How many of us here in these beds tell you a story that starts with “One time, I was sitting at home knitting, because it was safer than being out on a Friday night dancing.” No one. That’s who!”
“Well, safe is not bad. There are some sick people out there now. It’s not the same.” Celeste said, trying to find fault in his statement.
“Bah! There were always some sickos hiding out there, waiting for people who weren’t paying attention. If you pay attention and have some small bits of safety then that’s what we used to call common sense. It seems that’s gone out the window too. Common sense can keep you safe.” He said, frustration growing with every word.
“True. Common sense does help. I guess it’s more that so much is based around money and if you don’t have the money…”
“That’s part of the risk then isn’t it. You may not have a ton of money but that means nothing. This is America! You can get odd jobs. You can do anything you want! When we get so afraid to just go and do?”
Celeste looked at the man in the bed across from her. He hadn’t made much eye contact, instead he had been watching Ross struggle with his feelings for Rachel. Who hadn’t pined after someone and been afraid to risk their heart? That was one risk that people willingly take on a daily basis. The other risks, the more adventurous ones, were the risks that kept people feeling slightly off.
“Well? What do you think?” Mr. Kavendash asked.
“I’m sorry. I was thinking about what you said. I wish I knew what made us so afraid to go. You’re right though.” Celeste said.
“Do it Celeste. Just go and do it. Trust me, when you’re in this bed, watching this shit television, you’ll wish you had done it.” He said, finally looking at her in the glow of the commercials.
“Was there something you wish you had done?” she asked.
“Of course. There were enough things I wished I had done, I could fill a book!” He said and sighed. “I just…”
Celeste waited for him to finish but when she looked up, she saw that he had a single tear rolling down his cheek.
“Just don’t be afraid. You’re young. Take risks. Take lots of risks. Be stupid.” He said, regaining his composure.
“I will Mr. Kavendash.” Celeste said. She stood up and patted the man on his hand. “I hope you get some rest Mr. Kavendash. If you need me…”
“I’ll call you.” He said, returning his gaze to the glow of the television, lost in opportunities missed.
This post was written as part of the March NaBloPoMo. This month’s theme is Risk and today’s prompt is “Do you think it’s better to play it safe or to take risks?” I decided that Mr. Kavendash was a good way to express my thoughts on this.