This story available on Aug 29, 2020
At first there was only darkness. Darkness and the incessant beep-beep-beeping of the heart monitor. Gradually I could see again but not from my own eyes. It was as if I was a ghost…some unholy angel or non-tangible translucent being that hovered over the unmoving body laying on the hospital bed. There I was, unconscious, eyes closed, breathing steadily. I saw myself from the ceiling but oddly felt nothing. Then I saw him—a young man about my age sitting in the uncomfortable-looking chair near the end of the—my—bed.
I was sure that I had never met him before but he still he showed up day after day in my hospital room. The white room that I never left had become synonymous with his presence. I don’t know how many days I lay in that bed as time was not conceivable to me but he seemed to be always there. Sometimes he just sat there but most times, he would talk to me; telling me stories or simply recounting the events of his day. The sound of his voice had become a soothing prayer to my consciousness that floated so far from my actual body.
Most days he talked a lot and I became used to the sound of voice as I was to the ambient noises of the machinery. From the odd forty-five-degree angle I saw of his face, he was cute. He looked like he was in his late teens, with dark hair and eyes and a charmingly crooked smile. I was confused as to why this tall, dark and handsome stranger spent so much time in my room talking to me when I would never be able to talk back. Frustratingly, I felt useless. I was not a woman anymore; merely a phantom with no concept of time or physical needs.
From his visits I was able to learn about his life. He told me about his childhood in the suburbs with the golden retriever named Chance that he seemed to love very much. He entertained me with funny stories that and if I had a voice I would have laughed in response. I found his mere presence to have a calming effect, preventing me from thinking about how or why I was unattached to my body that lay in bed in the middle of that ugly hospital room to begin with. Still, every once in a while, the memory would creep into my mind: pouring rain and screeching tires. Mostly I tried to push these thoughts away and only focus on my mystery visitor.
I had no memories of things that happened before the accident or questions of what the future might hold for me. When would I wake up? Would I wake up at all? Anytime I began to become somber with these things, I was redirected by the soothing sound of his voice. It was as if he was my knight in shining armor; keeping the sad things away with stories and keeping my beep-beep-beeping going steady.
One day he came into my room and sat in his familiar green chair but he did not talk to me right away. His face was sad and forlorn and his eyes held so much pain I thought I could feel it through the air. His shoulder slumped over and he was still for a long amount of time. Eventually he spoke,
“My grandfather died today.” So that was why he was always at the hospital. I wondered why he spent so much time in my room instead of his grandfather’s. As if he could read my unconscious mind, the young man said next,
“I knew it would happen. I’ve visited him every day for a year since they said he was going to die. He sleeps mostly, that’s how I first found you; he was sleeping so I went wandering the halls. I knew he was going to die eventually, but it still hurts. I still miss him.” My heart went out to this beautiful sad boy in my room. I felt for his loss but also for my own because of what I knew he would say next.
“I guess that means I won’t be coming to visit you anymore.” At his words I felt a strange rush of emotions. This mystery boy was more than just my knight; he was my anchor to the real word. My steady beep-beep-beeping. My friend. But now he wouldn’t be coming to see me anymore. What would happen to me? Would I go towards the light or would I return to my body, alive again but missing the person that had become so important to me?
“When I first found your room, the nurses told me that you might still wake up one day and I could try talking to you. You’re the only one I’ve really been able to talk to these last few weeks,” he stood up and moved towards my bed. Gently, the boy bent down and kissed my pale forehead. I felt like crying and wished that ghosts could shed tears.
He whispered something in my ear, “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you. But thank you for listening.” With those words there was a strange and sudden vacuum effect. It felt as if all of my insides were strewn about in the air and suddenly thrown back into my body. I couldn’t see anymore but I felt a pulling sensation akin to gravity. All at once my mental state and limp form combined in a shattering collision.
Suddenly, my eyes fluttered open and I was me again. I felt oddly heavy and disoriented from this change in perception and my new point-of-view. Everything was tangible again but the beep-beep-beeping was still there. I realized that finally I was me again. I was in my body. Even more elating was that he was still there, standing in front of me with a look of astonishment on his face. My knight-in-shining armor smiled at me. I smiled back.
Jamie Zaccaria is a wildlife biologist by trade and writer by pleasure. She currently works for a wild cat conservation organization and writes horror fiction in her spare time. Jamie grew up in New Jersey and went to school in Delaware followed by Albany, New York. She currently lives in New Jersey with her girlfriend, two cats and pitbull.
Interview available on Sep 02, 2020