This story is by Ruth Rodenbeck and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
My eyes seem a little out of focus right now. I can’t feel my body. Why can’t I feel my body?! I feel my vision slowly come back into focus. Just like a camera, searching for it’s subject. All I see is the fuzzy outline of people leaning over me; all I hear is a bunch of muffled sounds. I don’t understand what is going on right now, I’m so confused! I’ve tried to swallow, but I can’t, there’s something in my throat and I start to panic. The blurry people seem to stop. I see an unfamiliar face come into focus; they’re talking to me. They start raising their voice, I see their lips saying something about blinking. I blink furiously, not knowing what I was getting myself into; I don’t care! Just get me out of this apparatus!
I am waking up again. The vision is a little better. Things look clearer; as if the camera lens is starting to focus. The room I’m in has four walls, a ceiling, and everything is white. I am laying down. I look towards where my toes should be. I see my feet covered in an off-white blanket and at the foot of the bed, the thick, grey, plastic that hospital beds have now. I look up on the white wall in front of me and there is a dry-erase board with a bunch of yellow blobs on it. I’m assuming that’s the board where they write everyone’s names and try to determine the patient’s pain level. I see the big, black box in the upper right corner of the room; I’m assuming that is the television. I try to look to my left, but can’t seem to move my head, so all I really see in my peripherals is an ugly, olive green, chair with an ottoman, a nice sized window, and a whole bunch of medical equipment with wires that run from the wall to the bed I’m in. I think it is raining outside, as the light coming in is the muted grey that occurs during daytime rain. I’m sure all the equipment has a noise it’s making, but for some reason I can’t hear anything. I try to move my head to the right, but I can’t, and all I see in my peripherals is a light brown door that leads to the hallway.
It is insanely warm in here right now; I really wish I could tell these people to turn the thermostat on low- I need some air conditioning! I laugh a little at the irony, as I’m always cold; I always bring a sweater to wear even if it’s one thousand degrees out. I see movement on the right side of me. There are two shapes gliding towards me, maroon and blue. The maroon one moves over to my left side and I see their lavender, gloved hands lifting my arm and then undressing me. On my right side, the blue shape has its face in my face and it seems to be saying something. As it comes into focus, I see that it is a female. I read her lips; she is apparently asking me if I’m ok? I try to talk back, but start choking on the something in my throat. I feel tears welling up in my eyes and blink them away. She notices and wipes them for me. She knows that I am here, at least. She is telling me that it will be ok. I notice how bright green her eyes are; I so desperately want to tell her to get this damn thing out of my throat! I so desperately want to use my hands to communicate, but my body won’t pay attention to my brain!
I must have fallen asleep again, these meds are getting to me. I just want to stay up and watch television or hang out with the people who care about me. Wait, do I have people who care about me? The last two times I’ve woken up, it’s just been me. Maybe I keep waking up when people have stepped out for a minute, or something. Yeah, we’ll go with that. My vision is better now, at least. I can see clearer. I try to say something and don’t feel like I’m going to choke, so that’s a plus. I see movement on my right side. This time there are four white coats, a maroon uniform, and a blue uniform that enter the room. I see the blue uniform coming closer and feel a hand in my hand. Its face is in focus now, its green eyes again! I’m happy I remembered them; she seems nice.
I just noticed that I can feel her hand in my hand, she’s squeezing it for comfort. I tell my hand to squeeze it back; I see her face and she beams at me. I see her pointing to the hand and I see one of the white coats walk over towards us. As soon as it comes into focus, the white coat has a nice face and has Clark Kent style-glasses over some deep brown eyes. Clark is looking at me and has his hand in my hand. He is pointing to my hand and gesturing for me to squeeze again. I tell my hand to do the same thing and judging from the look on his face, he was happy with the result. This makes me happy, too.
I watch the four doctors, the nurse, and her assistant talk. I catch glimpses of what they are saying, but not enough to make sense. They look like they are pleased with something and keep looking at me. They keep poking, and prodding me. Maybe to see if they get more results? I still can’t feel anything. They’ve got me so hopped up on medicine, I could float to the moon. The nurse comes over to the side of the bed and leans over; I see that she is asking me if I want anything. I try to make a noise, but don’t think she heard it. I use my eyes to tell her what I want, almost like a game of charades without the body movement. Through blinking, trial and error, she manages to get both the television turned on and my blankets turned down. She also works with me to find out what station I want to watch and for some reason, I choose cartoons… I’ve never liked cartoons. I really want to smile; I tell my face to smile. She looks at me and then touches my face and smiles back.
I wake up and the television is still on, but this time it’s on the news channel. I see the captions and start reading it, the news anchor is talking about something that happened three months ago. Something about a deadly fireworks explosion that left one person alive, but in a coma. They are currently recovering from massive third degree burn all over their body. I am glued to this story, but the channel suddenly changes. As soon as the perpetrator come into focus, I see a tall gentleman with hazel eyes, he looks at me and smiles and then puts the remote down. He seems to know me. He points at me and gives me two thumbs up and his face looks like he’s asking a question at the same time. I try to make another noise to say yes, but he looks at me as if he didn’t hear it, so I blink.
The television is turned to the news channel, again. The news anchors are still talking about this explosion. It was a New Year’s Eve accident. They are saying the burn victim’s name; it sounds really familiar. The face they’re showing on the television looks familiar, too. I try my hardest to look down and see my own hands and feet. I catch a glimpse of both my hands wrapped in gauze and the man with the hazel eyes enters the room again. The four doctors follow him in; they are talking about me, but I can’t decipher what they are saying. The man is increasingly agitated and leaves the room. I catch a glimpse of a video camera, just outside the light brown door that leads to the hallway.