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Comatose « Fiction365

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Comatose

She was lost for eight months.

But only an instant passed.

Voices trailed down to her ears, murky and fading. They were speaking (words?) but she couldn’t understand them. She couldn’t make out anything but the—

Darkness. It felt like a deep shadow, weighing on her—its bulk heavy and unforgiving as it lay on top of her (like him?). Who? Nothingness. Dark nothingness, too heavy, too much. Couldn’t see (what?). Where was she? Who was she? Why?

It was just so dark.

Light.

No, not light. Face. Round and blurred like the face of the moon, it hung over her. No stars surrounded it, only dark and clumsy clouds. She tried to call to it—to the moon, the face—but it was out of reach, so distant that she could barely distinguish the dark circles within the whites of the eyes, wide and set above a gaping mouth. Ah, but there he was, like in a dream she watched from deep within the earth, a spectator meant only to view and to learn. He was an animal in a cage. Watch him run about, squawking and roaring like a wild creature, calling to the others. Soon moons hung over her like a child’s nighttime mobile. They all watched, all amazed at what they saw. They studied her.

Perhaps she was the animal.

More voices—clearer now, louder—but still the words eluded her. Even so, she clung to the sound. It scattered the nothingness. The sky was beginning to lighten, the clouds thinning. The world was taking on the feel (feel?)—yes, she could feel. Her fingers spread. Her legs stretched out against the softness of the bed. The darkness took its leave, and she could see lights behind the moons, lending shadows to their pale faces, finding depth in their features.

They were still speaking, all different voices, all irritatingly real. Garbled, jumbled. Finally, though, she heard one.

“…awake?” One word—though several were spoken before it. Awake? Awake… She tried to respond, to ask what was meant by the word, but the only voice she heard was unfamiliar—a high pitch rattle. At the horrid sound, though, all that the moons seemed able to do was smile.

***

“How’s she doing?”

“All things considered, remarkably well.”

The man put a hand behind his neck. The smell of the hospital seemed new to him, though he had endured it for two thirds of the past year. Now, though, it smelled of life—instead of the putrid stench of a morgue.

“Her speech is becoming much more comprehensible, and I believe she’ll be able to walk soon.” The doctor shifted his weight and stuck his hands in the pockets of his coat—white as an angel’s feathers. “She’ll be able to live a normal life someday.” The doctor’s voice was calm and even, and the man sighed, relief highlighting his features as he leaned against the white wall—ready and willing to support his tired weight.

“Do you think she’ll be able to see him soon?”

The doctor scratched his brow. “I understand you’re anxious, but I have to advise patience. Her short term memory still hasn’t recovered, and her comprehension is at such a low level. I’m afraid the shock might be a major set back. And after all the progress we’ve made… Have you spoken to her therapist?”

“He seems to think she’s doing well—under the circumstances.”

“I agree. But still…”

“I understand.” The man stood up straight and took a few tentative steps towards his wife’s room. “It would be better to wait.” He turned away without waiting for a response so he didn’t see the relief spread over the shade-too-white face of Doctor Voss.

***

She was trapped.

One moment she had been a person, walking, talking, smiling. Now she was an animal, no more than a fish in a bowl, sighing at the glass. She listened to the world outside her window. It was only a few weeks ago when she had been a part of that world.

Eight months.

Time had gone, but she had missed the passage, and now it was taking revenge by stealing the time she had left, making it worth nothing. Stuck hanging by her pride amid the stench of sterilized decay.

The sound of the doorknob turning made her jump. But she couldn’t jump. She couldn’t even walk. She was beginning to wish she had never woken up.

“How ya doing, Carol?”

She didn’t bother to answer. She sat up straight in the bed as her husband crossed the room, heavy steps mimicking his heavy green eyes. The bed shifted under his weight as he sat, and he kissed her softly, with a heart as heavy as his steps, though those eyes may have beat it. He felt like he was kissing a stranger. Just a few weeks ago, the sight of her had inspired nothing but joy—a felicity of such incredible contrast to the sight of her bloody mess of a body, tangled up in the sound of squealing brakes and crashing metal. And still, a spark of that joy lingered somewhere. It was just weighed down, buried beneath everything else—mounds of leaden reality.

“I want to go home.”

Even after all the speech therapy, her words still slurred together, reminiscent of the nights they had spent in dusky bars across town, drinking and laughing. But that was years ago. They had been nothing but kids. God, now they felt so ancient.

“I know. Me too.”

“Why did this have to happen?”

A tear slipped from the corner of her eye, and her hand gripped his. He rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand, and somehow a smile found its way onto her face, sad and small—but there. And whether she was there or not, he saw her—for just a moment—his Carol, his love.

And for an even briefer moment, he saw hope.

***

“Carol.”

She looked up from her book. She sat in the chair in the corner of the room—happy to be away from the bed, the prison, though its presence still lingered beside her. The words washed over her skin. They were still slippery, but her mind was growing sharper claws, catching more and more.

“We need to talk.”

The coarse pages clamped over the bookmark, forsaking it, and Carol listened to the squeal of the bed (prison) (brakes!) as her husband sat down.

“What do we need to talk about?”

She watched him swing his eyes over the room and set his palm back behind his neck. The familiarity of his countenance triggered emotions just the same. Humility and sober happiness sank deeply into her, and she could not help but remember how much she loved this man.

“I’m afraid you’ll be upset.”

“It’s alright. Go on and tell me.”

He stared down at his fingers, as though the answers were hidden somewhere beneath their skin. The lines around his mouth grew thicker, and Carol found that anxiety had crept up on her, evident when her husband opened his mouth to speak.

“It’s…um…” His fingers pinched bridge of his nose. “I really just don’t know what to…”

“Just say it.” She was thankful that the tremor in her voice now sounded normal. What a thing to be thankful for.

“Carol, I…there’s a baby.”

“A…a what?”

“A baby. Our baby.”

She felt her heart flip across the room, and for a moment she was forced to focus all her attentions on breathing. In. Out. In. Her eyes opened. When had she closed them? Ah, but the darkness comforted her. It protected her. “…How? …And w-when? Oh, God…” She cupped her hands over her face, shielding her eyes, encompassing herself in the darkness. But her husband’s voice still found its way through.

“You were pregnant when…when it happened. You had the baby almost a month ago. Premature, but he’s fine. Barely any complications.”

Her mouth was suddenly very dry. “So…it’s a boy? What did you name him?”

“I didn’t.” He nearly smiled. “I thought you would want to.”

Carol let a bit of happiness pin itself to her tears, flowing down her cheeks like (blood) rain. “Can I…can I see him?”

A grin brought some color back to his pale features, and he wrapped his arms around his wife, steady. “I love you. Of course you can.”

A baby. She bit her lip as her husband stepped out of the room. “I love you, too.” Carol tossed her book onto the bed and stared at the open doorway, waiting to see her son. Joyful spirits took hold of her, and her only hope was that the baby had his daddy’s eyes.

***

It was the shortest drive home from work she had ever had. Everything weighed on her mind. So heavy. She didn’t know how she was going to tell him. They had decided together. They were going to wait to have children. It just wasn’t the right time.

How was she going to tell him?

Though the day was bright and clear, the car had its headlights on. Those headlights were the last things she saw as everything faded to black.

—–

Victoria Griffin is a senior at Clinton High School, in Tennessee, where she loves to learn, play softball, and irritate her teachers with her constantly open notebook and rarely open textbook.

—–

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