The man who thinks he is God likes to say “I forgive you.” Because they are obliged to be kind, the nurses ignore him as he raises his right hand to bless them. While they change the sheets, he forgives the world beyond his window, the trees, the parked cars, the janitor sweeping the cigarette stubs off the sidewalk. I forgive you. I forgive you. The nurses lead him to bed, then leave. They cannot stand his eyes, full of pity and condescension.
To the doctor, he says nothing. He thinks she is the Virgin Mary, and even God is in awe of The One Without Sin. She approaches his body with the method of a mechanic. She listens to his heart, his pulse, his lungs, inspects his ears, checks his reflexes. In a few minutes, she will be out of this hospital, in her parked car, off to a date with the man she believes she will marry.
When the patient catches her eye, the doctor is somewhere else, in bed, holding the blanket close to her body as her future husband holds a camera above her. “Smile,” he says, and she does. The man who thinks he is God returns the smile of the woman before him, the Virgin Mother, and the room is flooded with the radiance of the moment, a man and a woman in the middle of a sweet misunderstanding.