copyright (c) 2013 Carrie Ekosky
blogger had added some extra line spacing between paragraphs etc. not enough time to fix them- so pretend that it is :)
blogger had added some extra line spacing between paragraphs etc. not enough time to fix them- so pretend that it is :)
I once heard someone say that every time a loved one dies there is a new star in the sky. That somewhere up in space their soul becomes a faint twinkle in the blackness. That when a person looks up to that dark sky they can take solace that someone is looking down on them. It is a beautiful comforting thought.
So it was a genius idea really. With so many born- so many dieing - a precise row of perfect floating black boxes attached somewhere up above the earths' atmosphere to some space or satellite station. Stacked in perfect rows in perfectly engineered airtight "coffins" marked only by a 14 digit number and a bar code perfectly engraved into the thick steel. A revolution in death as we knew it. No need for embalming, no need for cremation, no need to bury atop the dead already asleep under the cold earth. Perfectly preserved. Eternal silence. Eternally asleep in the darkest of dark amongst the stars and the hum of the revolving earth. Visited rarely, only by the weeks when more were added to the peaceful stacks. An abundance of space, more than the earth's dead could ever fill.
It was now that when you looked up into the night sky that you really knew that your loved ones were floating so close to those very stars. Ideal.
I swayed out of the bar trying hard to sexily swagger across the parking lot. The high heeled shoes and skin tight hip hugging jeans had been much easier to walk in before a night at the motor inn. The same small and only bar we had in the small prairie town I had lived all of my 26 years. The outside had the same washed out brick from 60 years ago and the sign which lit up "Motor Inn" only now illuminated the M and one N. It was the shambles, but the only watering hole for 20 miles in all directions. It was a Tuesday in July- very hot in the prairies- exceptionally hot this year. I could still hear the rumbling of the music behind the closed doors. Stone Temple Pilots- or maybe Sound Garden- I always confused the two.
Brad followed me out of the inn and wrapped his hands around my waist and pulled me back into him tightly I could feel the shadow of his 2 days unshaven against my neck. I loved the way he smelled- a mix of cologne and whiskey. We had been an "item" for going on 6 months when I happened to fall into his backseat sometime last winter. He had been going on his 7th year with his high school sweetheart but it didn't take him long to throw his morals to the wind (exactly 5 hours at the motor inn actually) Since then we had built a hardly solid relationship on lust and stupidity. He was a gorgeous man. His shoulders were broad, his eyes were dark, his body was always a little tanned from his time working outdoors shirtless- every part of him made me want him.
He dug his head in tight like he was going to kiss my neck but instead he breathed heavily into my ear which gave me a tingle of shivers down my entire body. "Stay- it's so early" It was almost midnight but typically I never left until we had overstayed our welcome and emptied our pockets. "It's going to be an early white Christmas- Jay and Celeste are having a bonfire after we are done here"
White Christmas- Cocaine.
The thought of more drugs almost was enough temptation to make me stay and carry on. It would be the typical. More dancing. More drinking. More kissing. More drugs. But I had promised my mom so I fought the urge to stay although I wanted to so badly.
Stage 3 Lung cancer was when she was diagnosed. With treatments they were dragging out what bits of life she had left in her. She probably didn't have much longer- 6 months if we were lucky. I had made her the promise over a down and out argument that I would make it home. Sometimes I felt ashamed for arguing with someone dieing but mostly I felt stupidly justified. This was my life and if I wanted to throw it away then it was my decision to make. Ignorantly, I believed that. I wasn't much like my sister, the saving grace in my mothers eyes. She was almost 2 years younger but already almost finished law school. Gosh, the fucking saint never took a break. School year round. She was "building a proper future" and I should probably " follow in her footsteps" and "life would have more meaning if I found my calling"
I loved my sister- she was beautiful, smart, giving, gracious but completely ordinary. And I loved my mother- of course I did. I was lost somewhere between growing up and a total tragedy. Lost in a lifestyle that made me feel like I had some meaning.
Brad's hands left my waist and trailed up my ribs. I half heartedly shooed him away although when his hands were on me I always felt so sexy. I turned into him so we were chest to chest and he put one of his thighs up between my legs and pushed hard so that the pressure made me wet . I grabbed his cheeks and pulled him in close and rested my lips onto his- really I was too drunk to even properly kiss him. "Tomorrow" I mumbled with my lips still on his. . He moaned. He wanted me and I knew it. He ran his fingers down through my hair and rested on of his hands low on the small of my back with the other he cupped it under my push-up bra and squeezed just a little.
"Tomorrow" I said with a little more force. He put his hands around my waist and backed me into the side of my mothers' suv as if he could take me right there in the parking lot. I laughed. He shook his head. There was a quick exchange and he opened the door and waited for me to get it and he shut the door after me. He rested his head on the open drivers side window almost like a jack-o-lantern and smiled. I laughed. "Get out of here shit-head, I promised my Mom. Come over tomorrow"
"I promise I will" he winked and stood up straight and he tapped at the side of the truck and pretended to direct traffic like a police officer to motion me on my way. I slowly crept out of the parking lot and watched in my rear-view as he stopped to make small talk with the group of barely dressed, barely legal girls who stood outside sweating in the heat smoking cigarettes. I could hear one of them giggle loudly. Brad was at best, a player, a charmer, untrustworthy and over confident. But a part of me liked being jealous- it ignited me.
Other than the bar the streets were dark and quiet. Nothing stayed open past 8 pm in a town like this. It would be a short drive to the hwy and a quick 2 mile stretch home -all straight- easy to navigate in my state.
Hard to say if I was even awake to hear a horn or see the glare of the oncoming lights. I don't remember the feeling of the blood that drained from my head across my eyes and over my lips. I don't remember my brain slowly swelling between the time my head hit the dash and someone finally alerted the authorities that there had been an accident on that stretch of highway. I don't remember the flashing lights of the paramedics. I don't remember them pulling me from the car. I don't remember the screams and wails from the compact car that shared the ditch with me. I only remember that last glimpse of lights, passing the gas station and thinking about the excuse I would have to come up with when I arrived home.
When I finally came to I was so dizzy. I could open my eyes only a little and I was so thirsty. So very very thirsty. My mouth was like sandpaper and my head was pounding so hard that I could feel my eyes move with every pulse. The kind of migraine that encompassed almost all of my thoughts- I could even hear my heartbeat between my ears. The little bits of light that my brain could interpret through my lazily opened eyes was painful, so painful that I closed them and feared opening them again. I pulled my hands up to my head to cover my temple and I could feel stitches- a stiff hard row of thick coarse stitches. In the top of my hand I had an intervenes that inhibited my mobility. I think it must had been an hour or more at least while I dozed in and out of consciousness before I even dared to open my lids again. By this time the bass drum in my head was still beating with vengeance but I was so thirsty that I didn't care. Even in unconsciousness I had delusions of water. Even once in an unconscious hallucination (a dream I suppose) I found myself dipping my head into a lake of crystal clear water and slurping it slowly. I only wanted to open my eyes long enough to find the call button. I reached above my head grabbing for a cord and feeling the wall for the hopes of a switch. Not a thing. ugh.
The room was practically empty. There was a small bedside table that was parked up against the bed with nothing on it, beside that a pole on wheels to hang intervenes bags on and a small locker against the wall. There were no chairs, no flowers, no door leading to a bathroom, no artwork on the wall, just the bed I was in and a few different machine blinking and ticking periodically.
"He-llo" my voice was barely a whisper. "H..e.." fuck even the small sounds I was making were hurting my dry throat and making my headache worse. "He-lp" again barely audible. My plan was to stay awake. Someone would be in soon to check on me. I could see the sun outside the window at the foot of my bed was setting. The next time I opened my eyes the sky was dark although the room still was a lit fluorescent. The time after I opened my eyes the sun was starting to rise. Fuck, I hadn't stayed awake for more than a couple minutes at a time. I was still thirsty.
It was probably another half a day before I felt awake enough to even calculate a move. I think that sometime during the morning a nurse had come in to change the bag of fluid hanging above my bed and dripping into my veins but couldn't grasp just how long that had been or why I couldn't stay awake long enough to ask for water or some Tylenol. Surely they would have to assume that my head was an achy mess?. My thoughts were scattered.
Should I begin calling out?
I wonder what's on TV right now
Should I get up?
Should I close my eyes?
I bet its a nice day outside
Should I look out the window?
I should pick at these stitches (they were beginning to itch)
I actually didn't even stay on one thought for more than a few moments before drifting to another. It was surreal actually. Ironically, not one of those thoughts led me to any of the questions that they should have.
When I could finally string a few thoughts together I began to pursue the task of getting out of the small bed. But first I would have to navigate the metal railings and barrage of tubes in my hand and in between my legs. It was a mess. I managed to sit up easily enough but in the process could feel the muscles in my back stretch and ache sending pains to my ribs and hips. My long dark hair felt stiff and fell into my face over my stitches as I cupped my forehead into my hands. My light green hospital gown slipped down my shoulder exposing a breast. I slid it back up as I continued my descent. When I finally managed to drop the railing of the bed and put both my feet onto the cold tile floor my knees almost buckled and I had to use the bed to steady myself. My ankles were muscle less, like jelly, my right thigh was throbbing- a row of stitches there as well- ugly black and meaty looking. It was a very very long time to make the short 8 steps from my bedside to the small locker on the adjacent wall and in the process the catheter bag fell to the floor and I dragged it along. My gown hung wide open to the back.
There would have had to be something for my to cover myself in the locker. I worked at the little latch for a while (I would later find that my fine motor skills were lacking) and finally managed to pop it open. On the small shelf sat Benny. A brown worn stuffed bear with only one of his button eyes that I had carried around for most of my childhood and still kept on my bed. Hanging on the hook was a dress (the same dress I had worn earlier in the year to my Uncle Franks' third wedding) There was also a pair of shoes- flats- black- only worn once. I was barely 5 feet. Almost every pair of shoes I owned sported a heel. Leave it to my sister Kristen to bring the most sensible and ordinary shoes for me. Beside Benny on the top shelf there were a few printed photos in a small brag book type photo album - I opened the first page, one of my mom, I closed it quickly. I didn't want to think about this right now.
It seemed to take forever but I slipped the skinny tie from the waist of the dress and wrapped it around my hospital gown in attempt to keep it closed. It barely did the job but I could feel less of the cool air on my backside so it would have to do. It was another awkward and painful set of steps to the door. I dragged a small pole with my variety of fluids along with me but I was thankful because it was the only thing balancing my bare feet.
The hallway was long. Pictureless. Every single door looked the same- some were open- many were closed. The way that the rooms were arranged, you couldn't see the beds from the hallway- only the small lockers and touch of light from the long windows in each room. I walked very very slowly I felt so uneasy on my feet. It was very quiet. I could sometimes hear a beep from a machine, sometimes I heard the odd cough but mostly I concentrated on the sound from the wheels of my cart rolling along the floor. I would later think that this hallway was very short but today it seemed like the longest stretch in the world. It wasn't until I reached the corridor and made my turn that I could hear much of anything. There was another wing (just as sterile) only a few less doors. I could see a nurses station about half way up the hall on the left and beside that was one small table with one yellow flower in a small cup. The yellow beamed in the whiteness of this hospital. It seemed so far away but I started towards it, like a finish line I concentrated solely on that glimmer of yellow. My breathing was already becoming heavier and my head was starting to pound again. I didn't realize how much my knees were wobbling and how much support I was receiving from my wheeled pole. A piece of my long brown tress fell into my face but I was even to out of sorts to move it- from one eye I stared at that little yellow flower and kept navigating forward. I was soaked now on every inch of my frame with sweat.
How long had it taken me? 5 minutes? 10? I was almost there, close to the yellow finish line. Never taking my eyes off it until I heard it. Him.
The wailing, the angry yells. Sometimes it sounded like a cry - sometimes a laugh. But in the silence of the white hallway it made me cease. Stopping my pursuit made my balance all but disappear and I would have at that point collapsed both from exhaustion and vertigo if I hadn't been so close to a wall. I rested against it for a few minutes. The cool temperature of the white painted drywall was soothing against my wet face. I tucked the piece of dark hair behind my ear and felt that row of stitches again along the top of my hairline. It never once occurred to me how I must have looked and that spoke volumes for a girl like me. And at that very moment as the thought just crossed my mind at how very nice the cold wall felt against my cheek the mans screams became louder and more irate. Sometimes I could make sense of the string of words and ranting and other times just a series of erratic noises. Using the wall as my leverage I continued to make my way to the finish line and finally I was there- on one side of me a small yellow tulip and on the other a thick long thick plexi picture window peering into a large almost empty room. And him.
He paced back and forth at the back of the large room with his head in his hands. He was tall, lean, dishevelled and looked ...ill. He was wearing the same green hospital attire, only he had a green bathrobe that half hung from his shoulder and been bestowed a pair of green hospital pants to complete his ensemble. Sometimes he would look up to the white ceiling and shake his head and other times he would run his hands through his mix of light and dark brown hair and at one point as if looking like he was defeated sat onto the floor and slumped up against the wall. All the while his ranting continued. The glass was thick but when he was loud, I could make out his calls. "Get me out of this fucking hole...... I am not suppose to be herrrrre" at one point I could see him peer at his wrists and only shake his head and laugh. "Annnnd Jesus I- want- some- fucking- water" and his pasty bare feet stomped on the floor. He pulled his knees up to his chest and hugged them and rocked himself back and forth now and laughed. And then called loudly again. I turned back to an empty nurses station- where was everyone?? The little desk was almost empty with the exception of some white medical files and a ballpoint pen. There looked like there might be a door to a storage closet or a supply room leading from the back of the station but the small glass window was frosted so I couldn't tell for sure. I glanced up the hall and then down the hall I had just came and noticed at once-
I was startled almost to the point that I could have lost my balance and fallen when the mans face was only separated from mine by a half of an inch of plastic. His eyes were dark and he was staring at me now barely blinking. He was about my age, maybe a bit older, his brows were thick and he looked like he hadn't shaved in a week. His skin looked near perfect and it's pastiness against his dark pupils was a complete contrast. I wasn't sure what to do- but I didn't break my gaze although instinctually I felt fearful, intruding and I wanted to look away. The increasing silence was deafening. I opened my lips as if I were going to talk to him but not one noise came from them and then as if he were going to beat through the glass he slammed his wrists up against them. The cuffs of his bathrobe slid a little down his arms and I could see a row of stitches in each wrist. And then in the loudest voice that he had protruded yet he screamed at me "run- get away if you can. I am not suppose to be here" he banged his bare wrists furiously against the glass.
bang bang bang
"You are not suppose to be here" he continued to slam his wrists into the glass systematically now.
bang bang bang
"no one here should be here!"
He was screaming so loud now and his banging echoed the drum in my head.
bang bang bang
His stitches were opening and smears of blood traced on the glass but I didn't take my eyes from him. I immediately knew he wasn't of sound mind. Even in my confusion I knew that he was in this room so he could be watched. Then, he took some steps back and with all his force as if he were going to leap through the glass window he lunged straight towards me and his forehead crashed the thick unbreakable window, his eyes rolled, his lips smiled and he slumped onto the floor and was motionless.
It seemed to take every muscle in my legs to lift myself onto my bare tiptoes to peer down through the glass into the room. The man had knocked himself out cold. He was a heap of pale green linens and he didn't move. And amidst all of the commotion I hadn't even noticed that there was someone behind me. When I felt a hand on my bare shoulder I mustered a startled sound but next to no noise came from inside me and I almost crashed into the bloodied glass window that I was perched against. "um, um, uh " I knew I wanted to say something but my words were a string of one syllable sounds. I looked down towards my feet and saw the bottom of a white lab coat and some very expensive brown leather men's shoes. And I looked up towards his pale green eyes and tried to speak again, "I. um. ne. " nothing was making much sense. He had a dark complexion for a caucasian man, maybe in this late forties which I suspected because of of some of the salty hair that was hinting through his dark hair cut very short.
"It's ok" he said to me without much emotion "you need to be back in your bed. You aren't in any shape to be out of it"
"I. or. "
"Can you walk? I will help you" he put his hands on my shoulder and turned my upper half so my eyes peered back down the hall I had just come from" Without even thinking and at the urge of his gentle push I very slowly turned my feet and took a couple steps but stopped and turned my head back to the glass window. "He will be okay, not the best welcoming committee we have around here" My eyes met his and they looked a little reassuring. Mr Lab Coat smiled a little but I could tell it was only a smile to make me feel better.
Did it take 5 minutes or 10? All that I could tell for sure was that back in the small hospital bed was a welcome rest. Mr. Lab Coat helped me lift my bare legs back onto the white sheet and pulled up the guard rail and then using a key from his pocket unlocked a drawer on the underside of the bed and pulled out a vial and a syringe and added a plunger of it into one of the tubes that led into my arm. He put his thumb on my wrist and I could see he was counting my heart rate silently because his lips kind of moved as he did he took time on a gold watch around his wrist. "Give it a few minutes- this will make you feel better" and then he stood beside the bed for 5 minutes or maybe 10 very quietly, periodically counting with a firm grip on my wrist. And as he had promised as those minutes passed a surge of energy coursed through my body. The bass drum of my aching head became quicker but a little less painful. My body temperature cooled and the sweat on my skin now felt like ice. My brain started to string together my thoughts a little more clearly. Lab Coat read some information from the band on my wrist.
"Do you know your name?"
"um- Ju " I knew exactly what I wanted to say but somewhere between the thought and my mouth the sounds were lost. I suppose I looked disparaged because he put a hand on my shoulder
"It's ok" I could see he was looking at the mess on the front of my skull "you hit your head very hard, the words will come, and yes you are Julia" I wanted to tell him that no one had called me Julia since the 2nd grade- I was Jules. "you have some brain trauma, some superficial wounds but otherwise you are in fair health" he sighed a little scanning the stitches in my head "when your body has began healing a little more we will have someone fix your sutures, they are sloppy" His free hand moved his my pale green gown up my right thigh where he seemed to examine that row of Frankensteinish stitches too. "You have been sleeping for a very long time but you are a good candidate"
I shook my head not so much in understanding but because habit dictated that I did.
"We are hoping you make a full recovery here- we have had wonderful success- you arrived at a perfect time" he smiled again but for some reason I knew that it was for my benefit and that was odd
"uh- wat-r" whatever he had put into my veins was giving me even a little more strength and I sat up a little bit now.
"Julia" his voice sounded very firm "You will be very thirsty but please understand your internal organs are not functioning as they did. Your liver and kidneys are functioning at less than 40 percent and your heart rate and blood pressure are about half of what they were before" Lab Coat's eyes met mine and he looked very serious. "Everything that goes into your body must be carefully monitored and if you drink too much you will blow up like a water balloon" and he puffed his cheeks out and then smiled but that smile quickly changed back to serious.
"tha-t guy?" I looked back towards the door out to the hallway because I could remember the man behind the glass and his belligerent rant for water.
"He will be fine, he's not your concern, we weren't aware of his condition when he arrived here"
"insane?" it was the first full word I had muttered and I realized it. Lab Coat shook his head.
"Not insane" he looked down as if to reflect and find the right words "we didn't know when we brought him here that he had chosen it"
"chose-n what?" I didn't break my gaze with his light green eyes. Lab Coat sighed looked towards the floor and back at me
"Well Julia the man that you saw... had chosen to - die"
I peered up at the bag of fluid on the intervenes pole and wondered how long it might take me to tear open the thick plastic and drink the liquid- I wondered how it would taste and feel against my tongue and if I could actually do it before someone came to stop me.
I could count the exact seconds between the little drops that flowed from the bag into the clear tube
one- one thousand
I got excited when the pattern would change slightly- this was just how dull my little white room was.
It had been 4 days since I had wandered into the sterile hallway and had deduced a few very important things since then. I hadn't seen Mr. Lab Coat since our encounter but had concluded that there were only a handful of people that worked here. There was never the hustle bustle of a regular hospital and never more than one nurse on a shift. The daytime nurse who told me her name was Margaret was a beefy redhead with meaty freckled arms who was older and a little tart. She didn't make any extra conversation but had this sixth sense of knowing what I was thinking. On the first day that I was awake enough to beg her for water she returned to my room with a paper cup holding four tiny ice cubes. I was so frustrated when I saw the tiny amount of frozen water I that I wanted to fling them at her as she stood at the foot of the bed inputting some information into an electronic handheld. She had her back to me but in a matter of fact voice warned "you go ahead honey and throw those- that's all you get for another 4 hours- they won't taste so good off the floor"
There was the night nurse who hadn't yet told me her name. Young, blonde and very pretty. She always left a faint smell of perfume in the room after she had been there. White Diamonds- I recognized it- it was my sister Kristen's favourite. I could always hear her footsteps trailing up and down the hall when she was near -the sound of her high wedged casuals echoed in the silence of the hospital. Most times that I saw her I was half asleep except for the 2nd day when she removed my catheter and commented on my lack of pubic hair and then asked what method I had used to make it permanent. Then I think she realized that neither of us should have such an un-normal- normal conversation so she showed me the tiny washroom one door to the right of my room in the bright white hallway and quickly hurried away to another little room.
one- one thousand
There was Miss. Lab coat. I suspected she was a medical student of sorts. She was slender and tall and her bright red lipstick stood out against her dark eastern Indian complexion. On the third day she arrived to start the daunting task of removing my meaty stitches and adding some smaller more "suitable" ones.
When I was a child in the springtime my family would hike into some rural river areas to pick the fronds of fern plants before they opened. They were a bit of a delicacy in our prairie areas and the vegetable markets in the city would pay a pretty penny to buy them. One year we had picked so many of the green swirling plants that we had forgotten one plastic cooler full of them around back of the shed by the garden hose. That white cooler sat in the sun for almost a month before my mother realized it and I can remember the smell when she opened it. The sweet rotten stench filled the area and I dug my nose into the backs of her legs. She emptied the decaying plants into the small field behind our house and I can remember her gagging at the stench as she did. And as Miss Lab coat pulled the meaty black stitches from my skin I wanted to throw up because that was the smell- almost exactly. I couldn't understand how she was so nonchalant about it. She did however leave me with a row of steri strips in their place and sprayed my wounds down with something from an aerosol can that smelled like antiseptic and made my lesion tingle.
With the nurses, there was always some "muscle" on duty. I barely saw the men's faces but knew they were there. Only ever one at a time. I could catch a glimpse of a figure at the doorway or a glimpse of one down the hall as I navigated to the washroom at night. Their footsteps sounded different- they sounded squeaky and softer because of the rubber on the bottom of their boots. From what I could tell there were no security cameras anywhere, there were no locks on any of the doors leading to each room and the window looked as though I could crank it open whenever I pleased. I spent a little bit of time looking out the slender window by the little locker in my hospital room seeing out to a large football field sized manicured lawn that disappeared into a forest of trees as far as I could see. I wasn't sure where I was but could tell that the leaves on the trees had long since fallen and each day since I had awoken here had been layered in a soft blanket of fog.
Water in this hospital was a rarity. There wasn't one minute of one day that it wasn't on my mind. I could never remember needing, loving, craving, yearning, thinking.... water. The bathroom toilets were like the ones on cruise ships- metal, waterless and the one luke warm shower I had taken here at the hospital dashed any hopes of sweet gluttonous guzzling because something was added to the slow stream that tasted bitter and almost immediately made me grab my stomach as my chest heaved and I fought the sensation to throw up on my own bare feet. My mind had never been so fixated on something so basic.
Most importantly- most very sadly- most disturbing- most reflectively I realized that the few items that sat in the locker against the wall were not brought to me here at this hospital. Ever since Mr. Lab Coat had walked me back to my room I knew that they were chosen for me, probably under great distress. I could only imagine my mother packing up Bennie and choosing me a dress. I vaguely remembered leaving the motor inn- but mostly I knew I remembered nothing after that. And I tried desperately to retrace my steps in my memories as if I were back home looking for my keys- only this was certainly not as remedial. I wasn't sure of the particulars but was quite sure that whatever occurred on the 2 mile road had led me to the exact bed I was lying in staring up at the intervenes bag.
one- one thousand
And later as I stood at the locker and ran my hand up and down the dress's 3/4 length sleeve I remembered that when I brought that dress home for my uncles wedding my mother was very displeased at the plunge that showed the tops of my breasts so she sewed a small piece of matching fabric to the dress to make it "family appropriate" I smiled despite a tear that rolled down my cheek. I ran that small piece of fabric between my thumb and index finger because I knew that my mother's fingers had sewn it there. I didn't yet have the courage to ask just how long I had been sleeping and if my mother had passed. I was feeling desperately hurt and afraid of what the answer might be and when the thoughts of my mother and family would creep into my mind it was almost too much for me to handle so I stuffed the thoughts somewhere hidden and replaced them with the yearnings for water- fuck I was always so thirsty. I put on the black flats and noted how comfortable they were and how they kept my feet warm on the cold tile. I had no idea how I could explain anything and didn't even know where to begin - anyways the words that came from my mouth were still sometimes a series of syllables that didn't string together quite right. Come to think of it, no one had even asked me to explain myself- no one had said much of anything to me here.
And so on that very afternoon when the daily pattern changed and Margaret unlocked the drawer on the underside of my bed and I watched her freckly fingers pull some medicine from the small vial and add it into the flow into my veins I anticipated that something very different was going to happen. My anticipation turned into fear when she helped me from my bed and we walked all the way to the end of the sterile hallway and started down the next corridor- I could spy the yellow flower in the distance, I wondered if I would see that man- in that room. She was quiet, didn't say a word, and I uneasily looked back towards where I had come. I worried that we may turn the next hallway and I would be met by someone new or perhaps my sister. I would have surely buckled under the silence of that white hallway if the medicine that Margaret gave me wasn't potently giving me energy that I desperately needed. I barely blinked and with every step I took I felt a little more full of life- actually, it sounds ridiculous but I swear that as I passed the room with the picture window I could feel a heightened sense in all of my extremities and imagined that I could even feel every root of hair on the top of my head. And as we neared the end of that corridor I was ready for whatever was around that corner. My dopiness and guilt that had encompassed the last 4 days had mostly vanished and in those few minutes I had regained some self righteousness. If I hadn't been wearing green hospital slippers I may have even managed a swagger. Take it like a man I thought silently to myself- whatever was going to happen I would.
Margaret put her hand on my arm to motion that we had made our destination- one white door which she opened and led me into a small office. Unlike the bright white hallway, it was subdued, mellow, dark and all of the wood shelves were lined with thick books. There was a large desk in the middle of the room- a sleek clean design but covered with paper files and notepads. I could see the edges of clippings from newspapers sticking out of manila envelopes and the laptop which was open on the desk was rotating on a screen saver of some popular world sceneries- the Eiffel tower, the grand canyon, the Cliffs of Moher and so on. There was one small silver picture frame on the desk with a young child maybe about 3 and on the wall behind the desk was a whiteboard with some messy scribbling that I didn't pretend to understand. The window in the office looked out to the other side of the hospital but the same scenery. Today was a bit brighter but the fog didn't lift and hung in the air mid way up the bare lonely looking trees. Margaret pulled my intervenes pole up to a heavy wooden chair across from the desk and tugged a bit at my arm motioning me to sit down and then she left and closed the door behind her.
It was the first time in 4 days that I had the energy to really move about but I didn't get up from the chair. I was filled with the same nervous feeling when you finally make the next step from he waiting room into a doctors office and sit out of place anticipating. I looked behind me to the book shelf scanning names of books- some classics but mostly all medical. I watched the screen saver flip from scene to scene and sat forward so I could watch the pattern the sphinx in Egypt, the Taj Mahal, Rio's statue of Christ.... when I heard the handle of the door turn it startled me.
Mr. Labcoat. His shoes were different and he was without his white smock. His dark complexion looked a little darker with a thick stubble lining his strong jaw- he looked as though he may have just arrived and felt rushed by the way he threw his overcoat on the coat tree- it missed and slumped to the ground but he didn't pick it up. He half heartedly smiled towards me and sifted through a few files on his desk before finding the one he was looking for. He sat in his leather chair and leaned back for a few minutes scanning some paperwork. I watched his lips move as he read silently and concentrated on the little patterns I could see in the fabric of his black golf shirt and the way his muscle in his forearm twitched as he held the file in front of him. He looked up towards me periodically almost making me feel like he was matching a face to the information that he was mulling over.
"Julia Irwin" he said my name like he was committing it to his memory. "My name is Dr. Roland Cameron it's very nice to see you looking so well" I looked at my pale dry hands and down towards my green hospital clothing, I certainly didn't feel well but he didn't invite me to comment. "The nurses have commented that they have seen a vast improvement in your mobility and of course that you haven't caused the any trouble" he winked and smiled knowing that I currently slept for half the day and even if I could have caused trouble I would have been far to weak to do so. He cleared his throat. "Im sure you have some questions and we want you to know that you are very safe here" Here- where was here "Anything you say to me will not leave this room, you have my word that we have the best interests of you and the project" a project? The words repeated in my recovering thoughts he flipped the pages of the file he was holding and placed it open towards me on the messy desk. He didn't invite me to look with his words but his pale green eyes locked with mine and then he peered down to the open file. I wasn't sure I wanted to look- I felt like there was something eerie about the words written on the form that was clipped into the manila folder. He pushed it towards me with his left hand and I concentrated on the thick gold wedding band on his finger so that I didn't have to look I could feel my heart beating a little faster. He rustled the papers a bit motioning me to grab them.
Julia Rachel Irwin
Caucasian- European descent
Date of Birth 03.19.1994
5 feet 1 inch
Date of deceased 07.14.2020
Cause of death Cerebral Edema
I held my free hand over my mouth and read the last 3 lines over and over again. I could feel my warm flow from my deepening breath on my fingers and looked so hard at the paper that the words swirled in and out of focus. The feeling of the breath was comforting despite the sweat that I could feel starting to bead on my skin. I felt as though I should cry or blink but I was motionless and felt fuzzy.
"I n-need a phone" although my speech had improved some in the last few days there was barely a sentence that broke free from my lips without a stutter. My breathing was heavier and my hand quivered still holding the file. My foot kept the same quivering pattern on the tile floor. Dr. Cameron took the file from my fingers before I am sure I would have dropped it. I didn't look at him - I didn't blink. He stood and came around the desk and put his hand atop my shoulder and that caused my hair to fall forward.
"We understand you must feel very frightened and very shocked but..." I cut him off mid sentence
"I need a ph-phone" I was a little louder and definitely sounding more desperate. I shook a little more and he put his dark hand on mine to slow the quivers
"Julia" his voice sounded calm and emotionless "It has been 6 years since your family launched your casket you have to understand that..." I turned my eyes to his
"I need a phone" I said it perfectly this time
"Julia. On Tuesday July fourteenth- two thousand and twenty you were found with a blood alcohol level of .26 with a massive head injury that caused your death. Your body and the bodies of 3 others were transported from highway 320 mile marker 7. They were also deceased." He pulled a newspaper clipping from a yellow envelope on his desk and motioned me to look at the face of a small child. "You killed this boys mother. This boys father. This boys only brother." He squatted so that his eyes were level with mine and waited for a few moments. "Who will you call that is going to understand?" his voice was solemn.
I hadn't noticed that I had urinated into my hospital garments. All I wanted to go back to my little white room. I looked up to the intervenes bag
one- one thousand