Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Part 26

NaNoWriMo 2015: The Horrorphiles, Part 26
By Stephanie Thompson, 1,684 words

No Frills, Just Chills. Click Below.
Chapter 23 (la-di-da-di-da), continued

“So, how are you really doing today?” He asked again eventually.

“Better I think. I guess I can’t really remember.”

“Well last time I saw you, you were crying, so this is definitely better.”

The conversation was halting and awkward. Did he not know what to say to his dying girlfriend? Or did he not know what to say to his dying ex?

“Is Becky here?”

She didn’t care if it was rude to keep asking for the person who wasn’t here instead of talking to the one kind enough to stay with her overnight. She kept thinking of two things, how annoying it was to forget the date as you were dying and that judgement scroll the clattering skeleton with the bowler hat had given her. Lacking she was lacking in nearly every category.

“Becky had to go to work. She was here a lot when you were first brought in, even though they didn’t know if. . . When you’d wake up. I guess she used up all her days off or whatever. She’s driving back and forth a lot.”

“Were you here for any of it?” 

“Yeah, um, a couple of times,” he said, clearing his throat. “The hospital called since . . . Since I was one of your emergency contacts. I actually got here first.” He cleared his throat again. “Not that it was a competition.”

She finally looked at him. Her heart did it’s emotional flips-flops  and her mind kept going over the questions: were they together? Were they separated? Were they friends even? Was he here out of some kind of administrative obligation? Because he was a decent person?

Maybe it wasn’t the just the date they’d forgotten as they were dying. She’d forgotten the last two years, gone, eroded, probably forever. Is that what it was like for her parents in the fire? For Aunt Wanda who’d gone to sleep in her own bed and never woke up again in her death bed? Was the whole life flashing before your eyes wrong and instead you watched it disappear in reverse? Had they all died remembering a time before she even existed? Did they forget all about her? Was she going to forget them too?

She stared at him in silence for awhile, adding to the awkwardness of it all but she just couldn’t bring herself to ask.

“So, “ he said at last looking away. “I mean. . .” He stopped a second time. “So, what was it like. . . Being in a coma or whatever?”

She really needed to be able to move her body again because she wanted to shrug  but didn’t dare try it. The more awake she was, the more her body hurt at each attempted gesture. 

“I’m not really sure,” she said.  

While she couldn’t articulate what it was like to be in a minute coma, she was starting to understand what it was like to be out of one. A constant verbal exam. She was also aware of her brain for the first time, like she could actually feel it getting tired, as if it ached after a set number of questions. And there were so many questions.

“Jordan, what are you doing here?” she blurted.  She was still staring at him, watching him in profile, willing him to look back at her. But he did the opposite, repelled like a mismatched magnet (or whatever). “I mean, I don’t know what we are. Last thing I remember we were broken up, but you wanted to get back together. But. . .” A dry, sarcastic laugh tried to come out but the dryness in her throat made it sound more like a toad croak. “I can’t remember . . . I can’t remember anything.”

His back was to her, blocking half the  white board and half the clock. His arms were crossed in front of him, pulling his plaid flannel shirt as taught as his tense shoulders.

“We shouldn’t talk about upsetting things. They keep saying you need to stay calm and you’re going to be confused and scared at times. Maybe I should get a nurse?”

She wasn’t sure if he was talking to himself or her. He started for the door.

“Jordan!” She said it with a painful urgency. Painful because she was trying to reach out like she was going to physically stop him

She grunted a bit and he rushed back to her side, adjusting her bed and pillows, hushing her down and telling her not to move and fussing, in general. None of which helped, made her feel better, or distracted her from her question.

“I don’t need a nurse. I need a friend. I need you. I need you to tell me about us, what happened to us.”

He didn’t look away from her this time. His eyes were dark and bloodshot, sad and tired.

“Back in 2013, I did want to get back together. We never talked about but days after leaving you I realized I’d made a huge mistake. I tried to take it back, I tried to talk to you but you never responded. And, eventually, I moved on.” He swallowed hard. “I started dating again. Never anything serious. I always missed you. When the hospital called because I was still on a list of emergency contacts… I guess… I had to be here. I’m dating someone else now but. . . But I still care about you.”

His words, like the words of the doctor’s, went in circles in her mind, overlapping each other, crashing into each other so that they didn’t makes sense just nonsense wearing out her brain. One thing was clear, it was a mistake. A mistake to ask him. A mistake to insist he tell her. 

“Are you okay?” he asked, after a long silence. “Should I get a nurse?” Then after another pause. “Should I leave?”

“No!” She said suddenly, bringing on a new rush of pain. “No, I don’t want to be alone.”

She didn’t want to be alone because alone she would probably fall asleep and when or if she woke up how much would she would remember or forget this time? She was scared to wake up again. 

“Ok, ok I’ll stay until Becky can be here.”

He patted the back of her hand again. It still wasn’t comforting. It was meaningless, empty, borderline annoying. And awkward. Everything was awkward now. And worse she was tired again. Her mind just kept repeating what he’d said, like it was punishing her, and she still couldn’t make sense of it or how she should feel about it. All she could really think were follow up questions she didn’t want to ask. But she didn’t want to sleep, she would not sleep. She had to make conversation.

“What . . .” Do you mean you still care about me? “What about your job? Do you still work with your dad?”

“Yeah, yeah, contracting is good. Plus being the son of the boss is good. I can have as much time as I need….As you need.”

“And…” What does your girlfriend think … “And your family are all good?”

“Yeah, everyone is good … fine.”

He pulled his hand off hers. “This is awkward, isn’t it?”

She didn’t answer.

“It’s awkward, I should just leave. I shouldn’t have stayed.”

 “No Jordan, please don’t leave.” She leaned forward again, ignored the pain, but couldn’t catch her breath. “Please. I don’t have anyone else to keep me awake.” 

“Okay, now I need to get a nurse, cause that sounds. . . strange”

“No. No. Just listen, just listen first.” She couldn’t tell if the rushed breath was anxiety or pain but his hand was on the doorknob like he was still going to leave. 
“Just listen. Every time I close my eyes and open them again, it’s a different day, a different year, a different place than what I remember. What would you do in my place?”

He didn’t speak. He didn’t move.

“Please just stay and talk to me. We don’t have talk about personal stuff, tell me the past two years of Raven stats, if you have to, just don’t let me fall asleep.”

If Becky was here she would make some Nightmare on Elm Street reference, maybe “I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy”  her favorite or (think of another one weirdo, this can’t be the only Freddy quote you know), another favorite or maybe she had a new favorite after two years. Or more correctly maybe Veronica had forgotten whatever the new thing was. What was important was that Jordan didn’t look like he was leaving.

“Raven stats will put you to sleep faster than anything.”

“Tell me the price of screws then.”

Jordan laughed. She laughed a little too, even though hurt. It felt good to hear him laugh again.

He finally hung his coat on the hook on the back of the door.

“How about I tell you what’s been happening on (figure out some freakin’ show they might have watched together….this is not as hard as you’re making it)?”

Chapter 24

Ronny woke up to Becky sleeping across from her in a darkened room. Hospital again, she thought for a reason she couldn’t remember. Where’s Jordan? Again she thought for reasons she couldn’t remember. She needed to read the clock across the wall. She knew it was important, that clock and something else, what looked like a white board but the dim light from the hallway didn’t light either enough for her to make it out clearly.

“Becky,” she said in a loud whisper. 

Becky didn’t move or make a sound. She tried kick her with her foot but remembered too late that the she shouldn’t try to move.

“Fucking hell,” she said, loud enough to wake up Becky at last.

“And a fine howdy doo to you too,” she said in gruff, middle of the night voice.

“What time is it?” Ronny asked.

“Why? Are going somewhere?” She still sounded mostly asleep but she turned on a light near the bed.

It was was just past 11 o’clock. The white board informed her the floor nurse was Monica. This information only eased her mind partially. 

Read more in Part 27.

Thanks for Reading!