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Rails In New York
We shouldn’t have gone rail jumping that night.
Sophie called me at around 8 PM, telling me that we would meet on 54th street outside the Manhattan Tony’s Pizzeria. We did this every Tuesday, going out and doing some classic rail jumping. Rail jumping is when we stand on top of the apartment buildings or skyscrapers and jump onto the landing of the next building over. Sure, it’s dangerous. Yeah, it’s stupid. But freshman exams were really getting to us and we needed something to do.
After being cooped up inside Manhattan Preparatory School for eight hours and taking boring tests, Sophie and I were desperate for any form of entertainment.
So I tucked my long, brown hair up in a black ski-cap and slathered on layers and layers of clothing to keep me warm. Then I headed out to the Pizzeria.
Sophie was waiting for me, looking like a model as usual. I felt like an ugly, gnarled twig standing next to her. Sophie’s got this perfect sheet of caramel hair that cascades down her back, and blue eyes the color of diamonds. Even tonight, in her form-fitting yoga pants and hoodie, she looked like she was off to Teen Vogue’s Athletic Model shoot. And me? I resembled a skinny extra from a cheesy James-Bond rip-off.
“This way, Julia,” She instructed, as I jogged after her to find the perfect building, “I’ve found the perfect set of buildings for us to jump.” I was excited, but mentally exhausted from school, and was questioning whether or not this was a good idea.
We stopped at a tall apartment building that looked as if it were slowly decaying.
I turned my head to see the landing next to the apartment. The jump would be about ten feet. Ten feet was nothing compared to the heights Sophie and I had previously conquered.
We went inside and boarded the elevator, staying quiet so we wouldn’t reveal our plans. A girl with bright green hair stepped inside with us, probably so she could get to her floor.
“I’ve never seen you two before. Do you live here?” She asked politely. Sophie ignored her, so I answered,
“No, we’re just visiting a friend.” It was a good lie, and I could tell Sophie was trying hard not to laugh. We both knew the truth.
We reached the top floor and made our way outside to the building’s landing. The cold New York air chilled me to the bone, but kept me awake and alert. I followed Sophie to the edge as she squinted her eyes, checking the coast for the NYPD or anyone who could get us in trouble.
“I’ll go first. Once I land, I’ll tell you when to go.” Sophie checked one more time, retied her shoes, and made the great leap across the space between the buildings.
This was the part where we always held our breath. Anything could change whether we made it to the other side or not. I think that was the thrill of it; why we liked rail jumping so much.
I let out a sigh of relief as Sophie landed safely on the other landing.
“Your turn.” She said. I got a running start, the wind rushing past my ears, and my feet bouncing on the concrete.
But then it started to feel wrong. As I was running, I saw a face in the window of the next building. I didn’t have time to tell who it was, but I knew they were watching. Chills that didn’t come from the cold ran down my spine. It threw me off balance, and as I leapt over the edge, I realized that I wasn’t going to make it across.
I heard Sophie let out an earth-shaking scream as I felt myself falling and falling, nine stories down to the pavement.
Then I felt my ribs crack open like a nut as I hit the cement.
Bits and pieces of sound and light penetrated my thoughts. I couldn’t feel any pain; or perhaps the pain was so great that it deprived me of sensation.
The doctors pushed me along the hallway, saying so many things at once.
“The patient’s name is Julia Maycomb, age fifteen. Apparently she was trying to jump across from one building to the next when she missed and collided with the ground.”
“…ribs split open, there’s internal hemorrhaging in the chest…”
“….her skull was cracked on the cranial membrane…” I knew they were talking about me, but it was so difficult to focus that I couldn’t care less. I was having trouble staying awake. It was a miracle that I was awake, anyhow. I wanted to yell at the doctors, tell them that I could hear everything.
Someone shined a flashlight in my eye, making a concerned gesture towards me.
“She’s nonresponsive.” Hello, I thought, I am responsive! I’m trying to talk to you! I waved my arms around, trying to smack someone in the face so they would notice me.
Wait. I was waving my arms. How could I have been moving at all in my condition?
I noticed that it felt like I was slipping farther and farther away from everything. Then I realized I wasn’t with myself anymore; I was watching as they wheeled my body into the emergency room. I panicked. Was I dead? Why wasn’t I with my body? No, no, no.
I tried to follow them, when I heard the tallest doctor say,
“She’s stable for now. She needs a respirator tube, but her heart is still beating.” Relief flooded through me. So I was still alive. Good.
I wanted to know where Sophie was, and if my parents knew what happened. Of course they did; I was their only child, and probably the only person in New York at that very minute who almost became another grease spot on the sidewalk.
Maybe this was a horrible dream, and I’d wake up in my own bed in my own room, with my lungs working and my chest in one piece. I pinched myself, really hard, silently praying. Pleasewakeuppleasewakeupwakeupwakeupwakeup! I didn’t. When I opened my eyes, I was still standing in the hospital lobby. And I was still unseen and half-dead or whatever.
I hated this. All of this. Why couldn’t God just decide whether or not I should be alive? I hated just standing here, completely helpless, but totally aware of everything. None of this was fair.
Suddenly, I felt a burning, searing pain in my chest, and I was back in the middle of the operating room.
I couldn’t scream, because my mouth would either fill with blood or my diaphragm would threaten to rip in half. I was back in my own body, but the doctors were panicking.
“She’s going into an epileptic seizure- get the paddles, now!” Someone shouted. Seizure? No, I was just strapped down to an operating table while my lungs and such were being shut down.
Something hot and sticky splashed everywhere and coated my face; splattering the doctors as well as the poor nurse in the back. Another wave of nausea rolled over me when I realized it was my own blood.
The pain was so blinding that I thought I would vomit my insides out.
The room started to spin and my vision starred to blur. What the doctors and surgeons were saying didn’t make sense anymore.
“We’re going to have to…” the last words of the head surgeon started to fade as a deep, enslaving sleep kidnapped me.
It was a dream, I knew it! This was my first thought when I found myself standing in front of the rusty apartment building. I wanted to believe that everything was a dream so badly, but some part of me knew it wasn’t.
For instance, physically, I felt like someone had stuck a cold rod down my throat. Second, my chest felt like it was going to explode, but when I looked down, it was all in one piece. And besides all of that, I could feel the sensation of IV liquid nutrition pulsing through my veins.
I waved at a passing jogger. He ignored me.
I asked the doorman what time it was. He said nothing.
My face fell. Nobody could hear, see, or recognize me. It was just like the hospital lobby all over again.
I wanted to collapse on the ground and cry, because there was nothing else for me to do, when the door swung open and someone came out.
He was tall and lean (almost like a stick figure) and his blue eyes struck out against his pale, moon-colored face. A mass of messy black hair fell over his eyebrows. He wore a ratty hoodie and jeans that were ripped in too many places.
I nearly tripped over in shock. It was the same boy from rail jumping; the one who watched me as I fell. Him. Suddenly, anger overtook me. He was the one who caused me to crack my chest open! He should die!
I wanted to sock him in the face, break his neck, and slam his ribs into the ground so they’d crack like mine did. After all, if he hadn’t been watching me rail-jump, then I wouldn’t have been distracted. Then I wouldn’t have ruptured my lung and cracked my skull open.
“YOU IDIOT!” That’s what I screamed at him. I knew he couldn’t hear me, but it felt good. I followed him as he walked down the sidewalk with brisk steps. “You little crap, you son of a nut, it was YOU! You nearly killed me!” I continued to follow him and shout insults even if he couldn’t hear me. I was filled with uncontrollable rage at this boy I didn’t even know, even if he was only watching me.
At some point, it was starting to get dark and my voice was getting hoarse. I could feel myself slowly exhausting.
The boy stopped dead in his tracks so suddenly that I nearly collided into him. I wondered how that would work if I bumped into him. Would he feel it? Or maybe I’d just pass through him like a ghost?
“Kayden,” A deep voice came from somewhere in front of him, “What are you doing here?” I suddenly felt bile rise in my throat as I realized that I knew the boy I had been following.
Kayden Crosswick goes to my school. He’s quiet and sort of a loner, never talking to anyone but his friend, Peter, who barely treats him like he exists. Kayden’s mother is some independent artists down in SoHo and she’s never around for him. Rumor had it that his father passed away from a drug overdose. He was in some of my classes in eighth grade, and we talked a couple of times, but other than that, we rarely interacted.
Instant regret filled me. It wasn’t really his fault, was it?
Anyways, I stepped to the side and watched the conversation between Kayden and the lanky, tall boy standing in his way. I looked around and saw that we were standing in a dark alleyway; somewhere in lower east-side.
“I’m going to drop off something,” I could see that this boy intimidated Kayden, but he was trying hard not to show it, “Don’t you have something better to do, Luke?” I winced. Luke Galloway was a junior at our school, and a well-known street-fighter. He could probably knock someone’s eye out if he wanted to.
I silently prayed that if Kayden had any common sense, he would side-step Luke and walk on before things got ugly.
Of course, fifteen year old boys never have common sense, so he just stood there and clutched the paper bag in his hand.
I just thought to myself about how there were probably some nasty drugs or something in the bag, and that I had no idea Kayden was into that. I would never touch drugs. Oftentimes, I’d even avoid taking prescription medications unless I absolutely had to. Well, except for now, since I was lying comatose in a hospital bed while chemicals and medications were being pumped through me by the second.
“What’s in the bag?” Luke smirked. Kayden backed up and tucked the paper bag into his pocket.
Luke tried to grab Kayden’s bag, but he elbowed him in the face and ran. I struggled to keep up with both of them.
“Get back here, Crosswick!” You could hear him screaming several streets down. A few homeless people on the sidewalk cursed both of them as they tripped over several of their things. It hurt to run, because I felt as if my legs were tied to weights or like I was swimming in Jell-O.
Eventually, Luke gave up and cursed Kayden out, then turned around to go back home.
Kayden was breathless when I found him. He disappeared behind a building, so I went after him.
There was a door frame with broken glass scattered everywhere. I watched Kayden climb through the hole in the door, scampering off into the dark building.
It was obvious that the building was abandoned and hadn’t been occupied in years. Why would Kayden want to run all the way to come back here?
Then I noticed the mother and her child. They were huddled in the corner of the room, wearing rags and torn clothes. The child was a little boy, with pale, blond hair and green eyes that were struggling to stay open. The boy had a sickly complexion and purple rings around his eyes. A wicked looking rash spread across his bare chest. A makeshift cot composed of a few towels and blankets was the only thing the family had.
“Thank you,” The mother’s voice was hoarse as Kayden shuffled next to them and started pulling the contents out of his paper bag, “You do not know how much this means.” Kayden said nothing, and just smiled as I saw what was in the bag.
Drugs, yes, but not the kind I was thinking of. There was a vaccinating needle with a tiny tube containing the cells that fight chicken pox.
Kayden wiped an alcohol swab on the boy’s arm and held his hand. He smiled at the mother, then injected the cure into his bicep. At first the boy was alarmed, but then he snuggled back into his mother’s arms.
“I can’t steal these things from the pharmacy again,” said Kayden in a hushed voice, “They’ll start to notice. But I hope it helps.” I had never heard him speak so kindly, so I felt alarmed.
As he walked home and I followed him, I felt like something was sitting on my chest. Why was I being shown these things? How come I wasn’t asleep, unaware of everything? In a way, it seemed better.
I blinked and suddenly I was inside Kayden’s apartment. I felt uncomfortable, even though he didn’t know I was there. It almost was like I was intruding on some sort of secret. Maybe it was even worse, the fact that Kayden didn’t know.
“Hi, mom.” He shouted. I jumped. Mrs. Crosswick sat cross-legged on the kitchen floor, sculpting something out of paper clips. She barely looked up when her son entered the room. Her resemblance to Kayden startled me some; they had the same black hair and blue eyes, and the same skinny frame.
“She sure is pretty, isn’t she?” This time it came from his mom. I had no idea what or who they were talking about. Kayden probably didn’t, either, judging by the look on his face.
“That girl,” Mrs. Crosswick set a few paper clips in place, “The one who fell. The Maycomb girl, Julia.” I felt myself stiffen at the mention of my name. I mean, I’m not ugly, but when someone uses the word pretty in the same sentence with my name, it makes me feel weird.
What makes me more ashamed is that I found myself waiting for his answer. I wanted him to say that yes, I was pretty and it really was a shame I fell, but instead he just averted his eyes and said,
“I’ve never talked to her.” But it’s a lie, because he has talked to me. His mom narrowed her eyes a little. I think she knew.
“You two used to play together when you were little. Don’t you remember?”In fact, I knew he remembered, because he started to turn all pale. I wanted him to say he remembered me, because I knew the truth and I hated liars.
Mrs. Crosswick didn’t stop there.
“Kayden, you remember, you know it. I distinctly recall you talking about her a few weeks ago, about how you never get to talk to her anymore-“
“Mom, come on, stop.”
“-and then the last thing you said, I know you said it because how could I forget when you told me how you felt about her, how you-“ Things started to get blurry. Suddenly, the images broke apart and my body was on fire again.
For real, now, I could feel the pain of my situation.
The pain was constant and excruciating.
They said I was in a coma, but they didn’t know. Of course the doctors wouldn’t know that I could hear and see everything, and I knew what they were discussing.
“There’s barely a chance that she’ll be the same if she wakes up,” a short, fat Asian doctor explained to my mom. My poor mom didn’t know that I would be ok if things went alright. “Her lung isn’t healing properly, and the damage to her frontal lobe is severe. Julia’s chances of a normal life aren’t large at all. She’ll never be able to function normally anymore. You’ll have to put her in diapers.” Diapers?! If I could have moved my face or my body I would have crunched my nose up in disgust. That stupid doctor man had no flipping idea what he was saying.
“Never say that about my daughter again,” I was surprised by the sharp tone of my mother’s voice, “Julia’s always been a fighter. She’ll come out of this like she always does.” I really wanted my mom to be right this time. I couldn’t imagine myself, bleak and unfeeling as she fed me through my butthole or something like that.
I listened to the beep of the various monitors attached to my body. It was relieving to hear the beat of my heart, reminding me that I was alive. If I lived than I would come back here someday and listen to other people’s heart beats. Maybe they were like me, too, and could hear everything. I could sit by their beds and talk to them, and reassure them that someone knows what’s it’s like.
“She isn’t responding to the treatment we’re giving her,” the doctor explained, “We’ve tried all we have so far, and we barely have results.” I swear to God, the death glare my mother gave him could’ve sent an angel to hell.
“Let’s give her another dose,” he told my mom, “The pain should go down a bit.” I needed more than a bit. The cold rush of medicine floated through me, and suddenly I felt like crying, because it felt so calming, and I didn’t deserve it. I wanted to fight against the medicine, and stay in pain, because I didn’t want to see Kayden again.
But it felt like I was drowning in comfort, and soon, I was sucked back onto the streets of Manhattan.
This time, we were in the local Walgreens. A few of the blond “ponytail mobbers” from my school were gaggling over nail polish in the back. Good thing they couldn’t see me, or they probably would’ve gave me a lecture on my nasty hair or something “ratchet” like that.
Kayden was in the antibiotics section, his headphones over his ears so he couldn’t hear anything.
I felt myself blush slightly. He was cute. But why was I focusing on that? I was busy with stuff, like being comatose, for example. And it felt too weird; walking around like I was really awake, but in reality my body was lying unresponsive in a cot.
He kept walking to the back of the store, closer to the Medical Experts Only section where they stored the doctors-only stuff. What would he need from there? He snatched something from a shelf and stuffed it under his shirt. I squinted closer at the shelf and saw the label on the objects:
Acidomedaphin. It’s a drug that helps heal ruptured blood vessels and stimulates the brain to work. I felt a headache rising in my skull and pounding against my cranium. Why was Kayden stealing medicine from Walgreens? Maybe he was some sort of rogue modern-day Robin Hood, you know, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
A weird vision of Kayden running around in green skin-tight leggings carrying me with one arm ran through my head, and I turned red.
Oh, God, it was embarrassing.
A splitting headache started to pound on the inside of my skull. Man, it hurt so bad. I was really hoping that headaches wouldn’t bother a comatose girl’s subconcious, but I guess the universal balance forgot to leave that one out.
“Excuse me, young man, are you going to pay for that?” I sucked in a heavy breath as a tall pharmaceutical man with a pinched face stopped Kayden. Run, I wanted to shout at him, Go bring that medicine to whoever’s life your going to save! Kick that pharm guy in the baby button if you have to. Of course, he couldn’t hear me. I think this is when I realized that I was rooting for him. I mean, I was really on Kayden’s team, something made me want to follow him.
“Yeah, yeah, of course.” Kayden turned red and I could tell that he was really hoping he could’ve just run. I saw the regret on his face. Of course, I knew what regret looked like. I knew what it felt like, too. Regret is a sinking feeling that feels like you’re drowning.
He fumbled in his pocket, and looked for any change that he could spare. I wish I could’ve reached out and paid for it myself. That’s what I mean, feeling so hopeless. I could have been standing in an alley watching someone get murdered and in my comatose state, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.
Kayden kept searching his pockets for money, but to no avail. Suddenly, he started to tear up, and he was trying hard not to cry.
“I’m sorry,” He said, trying not to let his voice catch, “I only have five dollars, and the serum is twenty.” My heart sank. He’d almost made it out. The pharm guy pressed his lips together, so I prayed, Just let him. Come on, just let him take the medicine, you idiot. Kayden handed the package of acidomedaphin back to the man with a shaky grip, lowered his eyes, and started to walk away.
“You idiot!” I shrieked at the pharmaceutical, “He’s saving lives, don’t you get it?!” I really wish he could have heard me.
I started to break down and cry, as Kayden shamefully started to walk empty-handed out of Walgreens. I had to take several deep breaths so I could calm down, and when I opened my eyes, the pharm was chasing Kayden.
“Wait, kid! Wait!” He shook the acidomedaphin at Kayden, screaming for him to come back.
Kayden grabbed the package and stared at it gratefully.
“Thank you,” He breathed, clutching the pack like it was his life, “You don’t know the good you’ve done.” The pharmaceutical shut his eyes tight, as if he was trying to not take back his choice. Maybe he did have good in him, after all.
“Don’t come back here,” he warned, “Next time I’ll really have to report you, kid.”
I followed longingly after Kayden, wondering where he’d take the medicine to next.
He picked up a run and started to jog in the direction of Mercy General Hospital.
He sat in the waiting room, and for once, I was truly confused. What was he doing here? I thought he’d be bringing the acidomedaphin to someone in Harlem, or even someone in lower west or east-side.
It was late at night, and one day after he had gone to Walgreens. There was barely anybody left in the ICU waiting room. Only a few families, who were pale with worry and fear for whoever was in the ICU. I wondered if their loved ones would survive.
Kayden was as white as the moon. He was clutching onto the seat on his armchair, trembling. I wondered who he was here for. Maybe Peter was sick. Probably not, because the last time I had heard from Peter Davies, he was in Aruba on vacation with his step mother.
I saw the package of acidomedaphin sticking out of his pocket. There was whispering coming from somewhere in the room. It wasn’t until I realized it was him that it sent chills down my spine.
“Please, please, please, please, please….” Kayden sounded so desparate that it made me feel nauseous.
Seconds later, the ICU door swung open and his name was called.
“Mr. Crosswick,” A fat nurse lady said, “Your visitor is ready to see you.” He followed the nurse silently through the doors and they swung closed behind him.
For what seemed like the next fourty-eight million hours, I saw, felt, and heard nothing. Pure darkness was my only company. It was almost like a dreamless-sleep.
I was back in the hospital, my body connected to the same tubes with the same meds. But I felt different. Better, almost. Of course, I was really in a coma and this was all a state of subconcious unawareness, but maybe it meant something.
That’s when Dr. Chang came in with my mother again. I felt like crying; my mom’s eyes were red and splotchy, and she was in the same outfit she’d worn from the last visit.
“I was wrong,” He apologized, “Julia is recovering immensenly. I’m not quite sure what it was, but the head doctor must have given her a dosage of acidomedaphin, because her blood cells are repairing at an amazing rate and her brain is responding to stimuli.” A sharp thought sliced through my mind. Acidomedaphin? The headache pounded again as I thought of Kayden. Kayden and his acidomedpahin, waiting in the waiting room for someone.
It was him. He had replaced my IV shunt with the acidomedaphin.
“I don’t think I ever authorized Dr. Beddingfield to allow the dose,” my mom said, skeptically, “But regardless, anything to help Julia’s recovery is fine by me.” For the first time in a week, she smiled. Instantly, I felt warm again. “When do you think Julia will wake up?” This was a question that I wanted an answer to, as well.
Dr. Chang bit his lip.
“That’s up to her nervous and cardiovascular system,” He said, “When she’s healed to a state where her lungs and brain can function without help, she’s more likely to wake up.” My lungs were nowhere near functioning on their own. Well, I suppose my ribs were healing nicely, since I could feel the solid thud of my heart against them. But regardless, I was still on the respirator machine that helped me breathe. And my brain? I could think. Still, I don’t think following people around during an out-of-body experience counted as thinking. More like being half alive, something along those lines.
I wanted to wake up. Feeling helpless like this was making me crazy.
Had Kayden really put acidomedaphine in my shunt? How come the doctors hadn’t?
Maybe the doctors and medical assistants were too ignorant to see what was right in front of them.
“Mom, wake up!” It was Kayden. We were in another room, still in the hospital. I panicked for a minute because I wasn’t sure where I was, then I saw Mrs. Crosswick asleep, hunched over a body that lay in a cot.
Mrs. Crosswick woke up, her eyes red with tears, snot falling down her lips from crying, probably. I’d never seen her like this and it quite frankly scared the crap out of me.
I tried to get a closer look at the patient who was in the hospital cot, narrowing my eyes and stepping around Kayden so I could see who it was.
I couldn’t tell. It was definitely a man, no older than fifty, no younger than fourty, with brown hair. His eyes were closed so I couldn’t see their color. There were horrible scars and gruesome wounds that couldn’t heal marring his face. Something about his appearance struck a chord in me, as if we had met before.
“He’s unresponsive,” Mrs. Crosswick whispered hoarsely, “His heart can barely beat on it’s own.” Kayden paled again and stared warily at the man in the cot. “I’ve been here for five hours.”
“Dad’s never going to wake up, mom. You just have to sign the papers, and this will all go away. I know it’s hard, but you need to understand, we’ve tried everything-“
“I DON’T UNDERSTAND!” His mother shouted, “If you could have just used the rest of the acidomedaphine on Harry instead of that girl you’re in love with, then your dad could be recovering!” My ears started to ring. Harry Crosswick had died. Everyone knew that.
But here he was, and I realized that’s why I thought I knew him. Mr. Crosswick looked exactly like his son. He was in a coma, just like me. Everybody at school must’ve thought he was dead or something since nobody knew where he was at.
I read the tag on his wrist.
Crosswick, Harry S. D/O/B- 1/2/1965 UNIT- Comatose Adult STATE- Vegetative Unresponsive LENGTH OF STATE- Vegetative Unresponsive for approximately three years
Three years as a human vegetable made my coma seem like a bruise on the knee.
“Please, mom, dad can’t sit here forever. He’d be so much happier. You know that this is what he would want, you know it, mom. Sign the papers.” Kayden sounded so helpless that it hurt.
It hurt because I think I was falling in love with someone that I’d only talked to twice.
Love, oh love. And with Kayden Crosswick.
From then on, I realized he’d have to make a choice. He could use the rest of the acidomedaphine on me and help wake me up; but then he would have to have his father euthanized, or he could give it to his father, and see if it helps, but then I would die.
Death, oh death. It didn’t seem like a terrible option right now, considering where I was.
I wondered if Kayden knew I could hear him. He sat by my cot, weeping for hours. When my mom dropped by to visit, he got up and introduced himself.
“You must be Mrs. Maycomb. I’m Kayden, Julia’s friend from school.” He tried to mask the catch in his voice. My mother blinked and said,
“Thank you for visiting my daughter.” Then she started to cry and ran out of my room.
I was so sorry. Oh Kayden. Oh Mom. Oh Sophie. Because I was stupid and Sophie was an idiot, now my lungs were ruptured and my brain was near smashed and I was in a coma. And Kayden had to make a choice that nobody should ever have to make.
Kayden kept crying. I hated to hear him cry, it made me cringe and want to rip out my hair.
“Wake up,” he sobbed, “Please, please, please…”
Why me? Why did he choose me? There was nothing I could do but wonder. And it was almost as if he could hear me, because he kept saying,
“You didn’t deserve it, it wasn’t your fault.” And then, he started to tell me a story. It was about how he saw me, in eighth grade. How my mother used to drop by his apartment and talk to his mom about me, and how he loved me.
I wanted to say yes, I love you, too, but my lips wouldn’t move. None of me would move.
Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Wow, this was all so unreal and upsetting. Waking up. Now.
I wanted to wake up, but I didn’t know how. I started crying really hard in my head. How stupid was I.
Now we were in the hospital office. Mrs. Crosswick held her son’s hand as she shakily pulled a pen out from her pocketbook.
“This is a very hard decision, mam. You’re very brave for choosing euthanization.” So Kayden and his mother had made their choice. I swallowed, grateful for my life, but guilty. He was going to choose his father’s death over mine.
No. Couldn’t happen. No, no. Not on me. Not a death on me. No.
Kayden’s eyes were shut. Mrs. Crosswick could barely stand as she scrawled her signature on the papers.
The nurse nodded grimly and took the papers away, and I knew that when she would come back a few hours later, Kayden would no longer have a father. As they walked away, I could hear him saying,
“I love you, I love you, I love you…”
Pain. Everywhere. Every nerve in my body screamed in agony, fire rushing through my chest. It was the same pain I’d felt when I had a seizure.
Make it stop, I begged, Oh, God, make it stop. My eyes flashed open.
I was awake. And it was unspeakable painful.
“GOD!” I shrieked, smacking the armrests on my cot. I could hardly breathe, and I could feel how hot my blood was. I felt like I was blind, there was so much pain and fire everywhere that it was too hard to see anything.
Doctors rushed in, toting machines and medicines.
“She’s awake!” Dr. Chang cried, and another mob of medics came in. Kayden jumped back, relief and alarm washing over his face. I jerked and convulsed, terrible, agonizing, excruciatingly horrid fire ripping through my chest.
They injected more pain medications into me. More, and more, and more until a cool calm doused over my body, and the fire was put out to a dull sting. It was still painful but I could handle it.
“Don’t speak,” said one of the doctors to me, “You’re awake and stable, but we don’t know if you’re ready to talk quite yet. You’ve been unresponsive for five weeks.” I nodded a bit. See? I nodded and they saw. I really was awake. I was asleep for five whole weeks. It felt like three days to me.
They left me alone with Kayden so they could get my mom.
He stared back at me.
“You love me.” I said it. I wasn’t supposed to talk, but I did, anyways. Kayden blinked in surprise, and set his cold hand over mine. I shuddered a bit; he smelled like Drakar Noir cologne.
“I love you.”
“You.” It got quiet again, and then he started crying all over again. And then I started to cry. So he leaned down and he kissed me and said, “I thought you were going to die.” He kept repeating it over and over, his salty tears getting in my mouth and nose and eyes. His father was dead. He chose me. Things would be different. So I looked back at him and said,
“Thank God I didn’t.”
Palm Desert, California
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