Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Bed by the Window

Did you ever hear of the story "The Bed by the Window"? My friend mentioned it years ago in reference to a sermon she heard. It intrigued me so much that I searched for it. Finally, I found the story on the internet, but it was much darker than I expected. Recently, I found out why. Apparently this story was considered a cliche before I was even born. The original short story by Allan Seager was published under the title, "The Street" in Vanity Fair magazine in 1934. In 1946, the plot turned up in a book called, "101 Plots Used and Abused."

In the story, two wounded veterans occupy adjoining cots in a hospital. Both are bed-ridden but one man has a view of the window. He recounts stories to the other man about the wonderful happenings outside. Eventually, the first man dies and the second man begs for the bed by the window. When he is finally transferred there, he looks out to see only a blank brick wall. In the darker version, the second man actually kills or fails to get help for the first man so that he can get the coveted bed. Ironically, he kills his own source of joy. There are so many versions of this story that it is now considered an urban legend.

This also makes me think of a Twilight Zone episode. At least I think it was Twilight Zone but I have been unable to find it. A soldier is killed in battle and his buddy comes to his home to meet and talk to his family. Apparently this soldier told everyone of a wonderful childhood and described all the people he knew. When his buddy gets there he finds mean, angry people and a slum in the city where the two street signs on the corner make up the name of the soldier's imaginary home town.

What are we doing when we blog but sharing our own unique visions? In our own heads, the stories we tell ourselves may be all that is left when time and fate change our outside views. Society highly values and rewards those who can look at the blank wall and tell us wonderful stories. Meanwhile, I enjoy hearing your stories and sharing my own with you.


  1. Shari, this is so fascinating. I had not ever heard about that story of the bed by the window. Yes, it is dark. Disturbing. It also reminds me of the movie Life is Beautiful, remember that? How the papa told his son stories in the concentration camp of how beautiful life is.

    The thing is, if it's beautiful in someone's head, then it is beautiful.

    This really captures my imagination this morning. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. I was nervous to see that movie but now I can't wait to find it.