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A Dark Day

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I am a table. I am a rectangular four-foot wide by eight-foot long, golden oak table with lots of grain, a leg on each corner, and a polyurethane sealant. This is important, because though it removes me from the level of fine furniture, it adds to my versatility and my longevity. I was purchased in the early 90's by the U.S. Air Force Quartermaster in a spasm of upgrades for the offices of NORAD. After I was delivered I was reassigned to a priority slot in a new command under the mountain cryptically referred to as SGC. I can seat eight formally, ten comfortably, and twelve friendly. Because I was purchased without chairs, I knew that my life would be one of utilitarianism not formal dining. In other words, I'll see a lot of service of all kinds

I had been sitting in the Medical Section of the SGC. Many mobiles have come and gone, running two and fro. Then several mobiles came and pushed me against the wall in a big hurry. I scraped the bottom of my legs against the rough concrete floor and my edge hit up against the cinderblock. I was terribly concerned. Mobiles do not act like this unless they are very upset and in a great hurry. Then, I see them bring Tall Military Jack past me on one of the wheeled gurney-tables. He was lying very still and quiet. Then another gurney- table goes by. This mobile had its face covered and I could not see who it was.

Suddenly, tall military Sam came running past me. She was gone only a little while when she returned to my side. Then, Tall Military Sam pulled up one of the chrome and plastic chairs to me and sat down. She was very still and very quiet. She sat there for a very long time and did not say a word. Tall Alien Teal'c came and knelt down in front of her. She nodded at him and then started to cry. He reached for her and took her in his strong arms. There she began to make horrible, sad sounds. They stayed that way for a long time. Something terrible must have happened.

Finally, Tall Alien Teal'c said to her, "We should go Majorcarter. We can do no good here, and you should rest in your office." Tall Military Sam nodded and wiped her face with her hands. As she placed her hands on my surface I felt that they are wet with salt water. Finally the two friends leave me alone. They call the salt-water tears.

Soon after, Military Man-in-charge Hammond also comes out of the small room and he suddenly stops and leans upon my top. He slumps forward and puts his head in his hands. He stays there, the other mobiles walk past him but they don't speak. Military Man-in-charge Hammond is a large man and he is heavy but I don't mind. I know that he carries the weight of many people on his shoulders and I can easily help him with his load. Finally, he stands up straight and clears his throat. Then, he pushes off of me and walks heavily down the hall. I have never noticed it before, but he looks very old and very tired. I wish I could bear his burdens for him but I am only a table after all. Slowly, he moves away from me towards some task I know must be unpleasant.

Finally, the rush is over. The mobiles have slowed down to their normal walks again. Medium Medical Man Warner comes out of the room with a group of mobiles and I see they still have Tall Military Jack on the gurney-table. He is pushed quickly by me and then they are gone again. I am frightened for my friend. He looks so still and quiet. I am not used to seeing him like that.

After a while, some Maintenance Mobiles come to pick me up and move me into one of the rooms off the corridor I've been sitting in. It is the isolation room with a bed and lots of other furniture and equipment in it. It is very dark and quiet in here. It is often a room of sorrow to my friends. Here, I can only sit and think and worry.

Some time had passed when I hear the door open into the gloomy room. Someone comes in and closes the door. I don't recognize who it is. Then, as he shuffles past me, I see that it is Tall Civilian Daniel. At first I think that he must be wounded, but I see no bandages or red sap; although he moves as if he is in great pain.

He does not turn on a light, but instead goes into the blackest, deepest corner of the room. There, he sits on a box that is stacked back against the wall. He curls up into a very small, very tight ball. Tall Civilian Daniel is a large mobile, yet he is very still and does not look big at all. He stays there...for a very long time...alone.

At first I think he is hiding from other mobiles. He does look as if he is afraid, but I finally realize that he is only hiding from the truth. He is hoping that it will not find him here, but he knows that it is too late...the truth will always come.

He sits there for a long time. I wonder where his friends are. Where is Tall Military Jack? Where is Tall Military Sam? Where is Tall Alien Teal'c? Where is Small Medical Janet? Why do they leave him alone the dark?

Then, someone new comes in. I do not know this mobile. I have seen him once or twice but he does not belong here. He is a Small Irritating Mobile with a very big mouth. Often he has two military mobiles following him around with big noisy whirly things. Often, then people yell when they are there. I do not like him, but then I am only a table and no one asks my opinion. He looks around the room, as if searching for something. Then he turns to leave.

Tall Civilian Daniel stands up from the shadows and calls out to him. "Over here."

"I was told you might be in here, Doctor Jackson." He comes back into the room.

"Yep." The young mobile comes to the bed that is in the center of the room and looks at him.

Small Irritating Mobile throws a small square plastic thing on the bed. "I'm not going to use it." He tells Tall Civilian Daniel

Tall Civilian Daniel says, "Wait...I want you to." He pauses then looks around at the walls and ceiling of the room as if he'd never seen them before. But I know it is not true. He has been here too many times. Then, my mobile friend begins to speak, softly as if to himself. "I died in this room--ascended. Doctor Fraiser did everything she could. I think she went three days without the end she didn't want to let me go. I owed her...a lot more than I ever gave back." He picked up the plastic thing and looked at it, then he continues. "I thought a lot about what you said about Kristofsky. I think this shows what Janet Fraiser was all about." He hands the thing back to the small Mobile.

Small Irritating Mobile takes the plastic thing from Tall Civilian Daniel. "Me too."

"I want other people to know."

The two mobiles look at each other for a long moment. Then the stranger mobile nods his head and leaves.

It has been a long time now and Tall Civilian Daniel is still here. I wonder when he will leave. I know now what is wrong, and I still have trouble believing it. Small Medical Janet is gone. She will never come and sit on me again. I will never hear her beautiful voice sing as she works on a project, I will never hear her laugh at Tall Military Jack's jokes or tease Tall Civilian Daniel or Tall Alien Teal'c. She and Tall Military Sam will never tell each other 'girl secrets', she will never fuss at her patients who were her friends, and she will never lean on me and cry again.

Finally, a familiar shape comes in through the doorway. It is Tall Military Jack. I am very happy to see him even though he is walking very slow and stiff. He looks around the room then goes past bed and me and to the dark corner.

"Danny?" He says softly. "Whatchadoin?"

"Thinking." Tall Civilian Daniel's voice is thick and hoarse.

"Thinking is good, for a while. But you've been here a long time."

"Have you been released?"

"Yeah, but I need a chauffer; it's time to go home."

"All right." I see him stand up again from the shadows. He still looks small and a little lost. But he comes over to Tall Military Jack and touches his shoulder gently, as if her were afraid to mar his surface. "I'm glad you're okay. I'm sorry...."

Tall Military Jack smiles at him. "I know. It's all right. Warner said I'm fine, that it was just the impact of the blast. That new armor protected me from the worst of it. I'm bruised, but not broken." He then wrapped his friend carefully in a hug. "See, good as new."

"How about Cassie?" Tall Civilian Daniel says into his friend's shoulder with a little sighing sound..

"Carter's gone to stay with her. It'll be rough on both of them." He paused and looked searchingly at the younger mobile. "Cassie's a strong kid. Kinda reminds me of someone else I know."

Tall Civilian Daniel nods and looks at his friend. "Sometimes you have no choice but to be strong. You can only do what you have to do."

Tall Military Jack continued. "I know how it feels, to lose a person that's important to you" He steps away but keeps one hand on his friends arm. "But I got very lucky."

"Janet wasn't so lucky." The younger mobile said softly.

"I know, but life goes on." The older mobile said gently. "Airman Wells was lucky this time. He's going home to his family. Janet would have wanted it that way...for us to go do the things that gave meaning to her life."

Tall Civilian Daniel bows his head. Tall Military Jack pats him on the arm. "Come on, Daniel. Let's go home." And the two friends leave together.

Mobiles are such fragile things. It only takes an instant for them to take them away forever, unlike furniture. Their life is a precious thing.

I am a table. I am a rectangular four-foot wide by eight-foot long, golden oak table with lots of grain, a leg on each corner, and a polyurethane sealant. This is important, because though it removes me from the level of 'fine' furniture, it adds to my versatility and my longevity. But unlike furniture, Mobiles have no such guarantees. Their lives are dangerous. And sometimes, the mobiles that blaze the brightest to show us the way do not burn nearly long enough. I am honored to serve them as a helper, to support them through their times of happiness, tragedy, loss and acceptance. My life is happy, sad and satisfactory, as it should be for a table and for all other things in the universe..