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Raindrops of Reality
At first, the hospital stays were like tiny raindrops, unaffecting, really, to the sunny day of my childhood. A few drips and drops would cause an occasional damper, but never really bothered me. Yet, as the day wore on, drips became a drizzle, a drizzle became a shower, and now I'm soaking wet and chilled to the bone, watching a monsoon wash my life away.
It melted away my friendships- after all, it would be hard to befriend someone if you never knew when they would be there or not. You can't go cry to the girl in the hospital, else she might cry to you, and you wouldn't want that.
Their apathy had long ago stopped stinging, and not just because of the drugs. It's because of my secret.
Do you want to know my secret?
I don't need Their world. I have my own. I can slip deep into the caverns of my mind and swim and swirl, or even simply exist. I can laugh and talk to whomever I wish. This isn't craziness, far from it, for I know what it is. It is my nesting place, my true haven of sanity in the crushing world of white walls.
Pain is bearable there.
I close my eyes and forget their reality, forget the past and the future, don't think at all, just focus on existing, and as I exist the pain and I become one, and I bear it.
This is how I find my world.
Right now a plastic tube is being rammed up my arm, through my veins, inch by inch, to drip enough steroids into my heart to make a walrus go into overdrive. I'm not looking at the tube, or the doctors; I'm not thinking about the blood that circles the tubing, building up alongside the walls of my veins that are starting to tear; I'm ignoring the throbbing.
I'm exhaling slowly, not crying, not even close. I'm there now. I flop my head to one side and glare at the little girl in the next bed. She's out of it- she's five and has cancer and is probably zoned out on morphine and codine- but she still looks at me hazily.
What are you looking at? I demand of the little girl with my mind.
You. You think too much.
You complain too much.
I do not.
I know you. You're trapped in your own story, your own over-dramatic tweenage saga mired in anguish and self-pity, with just enough reality for your own justification. What makes you think you understand what pain is like?
You don't know me! I explode. You're only, what, five? What do you know?
I know a lot of things. About pain, life, beauty. Ponies. The girl thought matter-of-factly.
I huff and the breath makes me wince; my eyes water. Still, I don't move. In Their reality, the tube is making it's way through my shoulder.
I hate this place, I think.
You shouldn't hate.
I glare at her and twitch, then regret it as stabs of pain shoot through my arm.
You're lucky, I think accusingly. You're going to die. And everyone will miss you and remember you as wonderful. You won't have to live like this, live in pain and be hated for it. You're so lucky.
The girl doesn't answer.
A familiar pang of guilt shudders through me, because it's an awful thing to say to a little girl, especially one with cancer, even if she can't hear you and is in an artificial sleep and your entire conversation with her is in your head. Even then.
I'm sorry, I think, but she won't come back.
Are you okay? Can you sit up?
I almost grin, thinking it's the girl again, until I realize it's the very audible voice of the doctor. Peering through the slits of my eyelids, I catch sight of the blanket of azure hospital napkins, now stained with splatterings of red, and I close them again.
Yes. Although, it came out more like, "Unnn-hunmm."
"Okay. We'll leave you alone to get some rest. If all goes well tonight, we can see about you getting discharged in the morning. Then you can go home. Back to your life." The doctor seemed rather cheery about that prospect.
They draw the gray pastel curtains between me and the little girl, and I let myself flow into the stark white sheets that I can't see because I still haven't bothered to open my eyes (which is understandable, since every muscle in my body is wracked with exhaustion.)
My life. I ponder the phrase sleepily. How much of my life has been spent behind these walls, inventing new realities, while my true existence has been chipped away?
Is anyone out there?
No one answers. My fictional friends won't return until I have the strength to imagine them again.
Or perhaps...a small, girlish voice prods the back of my psyche. I hesitate.
Perhaps...perhaps I've got it backwards, I think with trepidation. Maybe I'm wrong. If I'm happy here- maybe this is my sunny day, here in this other universe. Maybe their reality is nothing more than streaks of rain on a window pane, a dismal illusion that will evaporate whenever I return. Return here.
Return home, she whispered.
I nod silently. Until then, I suppose I must pretend.