Content Warnings: Hospital Environment, Implied Terminal Illness

A hospital room. 5:00pm. 

Only the hum of equipment and soft movement outside is heard. There is a bed with various monitors on either side. A fluorescent light shines from above, flickering occasionally while a warm champagne glow from the back window washes over the bed. A young woman lies gazing out the window, watching the sociability of the streets beyond the smudged glass. A drawing book lies open on the bedside table.   

Athena: Time passes slowly in hospital. Nurses come, nurses go as does everyone else while you’re stuck in bed. Entertainment is minimal – you can’t move around so sport is out, you’re by yourself so board games won’t work, and daytime TV is more boring than staring at the chipping roof for hours on end. The only thing to do is gaze out the window. All you can do is watch, perceive, and observe life as it continues outside and imagine what it might be like to be free again.  

Athena leans forward to look out of the window. Through the window, the audience can see a busy road and park. There is an oval where kids play football. A path winds through the trees where dogs and their owners wander alongside couples out for an afternoon stroll. Benches and lamp posts are scattered around like islands. For the audience, the images are blurred but for Athena they are crystal clear.  

Athena: I like to watch people. It’s quite calming actually, using my imagination to explore the alternate worlds I see out the window. I feel less alone, as if I become part of the crowd, as if I can give life the slip even though I may only touch the surface of what goes on below.  

The hospital lights slowly fade into the soft orange wash which pours through the window. The low humming machinery falls into rhythm with each other and the soft babble of voices outside fade into the lilting melody of a far off piano accompanied by a choir of birds. As Athena continues, the audience feels they have stepped into her imagination as she observes the passers by. 

Athena: I can see so much from behind this window. A mother and daughter dart through the trees in a game of hide and seek filled with love, light, and laughter. Winds whistle seamlessly beneath their hair as if the sweet melodies of spring enchant each strand to life. 

Beyond the trees, there’s a sea of green spotted with colour where children duck and weave, following the flight of a single ball. Strike after strike sends it soaring over the crowd while beneath it the children become not children, but spirits in a lively dance, blending colours and forms into a never ending blur. I can feel the wind whirling through my ears and the cushion of softly damp ground beneath each bounding step as if I run among them. 

Closer to my window is a man who walks slowly beside the road. He looks sad, the kind of sad one feels when they have lost something irreplaceable. Cars and bicycles fly past and the roar from the nearby park wafts above him but he continues. He walks separately to the crowd, the restless tide parting as he moves slowly up the street towards the bus. No one looks nor seems to hear him except me, he is invisible to passing eyes as if obscured by slow moving clouds. 

The bus stop to which he journeys borders my frame. The avenue leading there is marked by lamps which cast floating islands of pale light beneath them that each traveller must journey through. On the island just before the bus stop, a couple stands in a warm embrace, staring deeply into one another’s eyes. Maybe this is where they part ways. When will the two walk together again as one? Tomorrow? The day after? I hope soon, but I guess I cannot know. In my mind, they leave this island to their respective homes, rejoining the waning tide as it gently washes the streets still as night surrounds and the sounds of children playing soon fade into the soft song of owls.

A woman quickly clacks past the island, dressed in flowing satin and elegant velvet. Her hand hails a nearby taxi and within seconds she clambers inside and is off out of frame. Visiting the theatre I presume, satin is synonymous with the theatre. I bet she is seeing some glorious ballet where colourful dancers glide effortlessly amongst melodious violins and flutes and …  

Athena trails off, overcome by imagination. Her eyes close and her arms move slightly as if she too is dancing down the street in satin and velvet. The music swells but then the birdsong ceases and the piano is once again the voices in the hall. The gentle rhythm beneath the music breaks as the sound of footsteps on grass and pavement fade into the beep of a heart monitor, whir of a ventilator and the soft dripping of an IV. The champagne light dims once more into flickering fluorescence and the rustle of leaves becomes the movement of bedsheets. 

Athena: (Pensive) My nurses always ask why I spend so much time gazing out this window, watching, waiting. I tell them it’s because I like the view. Really, the reason I watch, the reason I look, is deeper. I look outside to momentarily escape. I look to live, only briefly, the life of another and trace their footsteps as if they were my own. 

Athena reaches for the drawing book and slips a pencil from behind her ear. Glancing wistfully out the window, she begins to draw and a smile creeps across her face. As her pencil glides across the page, the fluorescent light dims and the soft orange from the window fades into a deep purple which casts a shadow across the room. One by one, each island flickers out and the stage plunges into darkness. All that’s left is the harmonious hum of each machine, enveloping the audience like the evening breeze beyond the window.


Works Cited

Martens, Britta. “Dramatic Monologue, Detective Fiction, and the Search for Meaning: A Journal of Victorian Fiction.” Nineteenth – Century Literature, vol. 66, no. 2, 2011, pp. 195-218,280. ProQuest,


Peregrim, John J. A Dialogue of the Self: On the Nature of Theatrical Monologue and Self-Articulation, University of California, Berkeley, United States — California, 1993. ProQuest,


Woolf, Virginia. “Street Haunting: A London Adventure.” The Death of the Moth and Other Essays, The Hogarth Press, 1981, pp. 19-29. 

Wordsworth, William. “The Prelude (1805) from Book Seven: Residence in London.” William Wordsworth, edited by Stephen Gill, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 58-65.

Eloise Vernon

The author Eloise Vernon

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