Life seemed so simplistic.
I was trapped within myself, in my mind where nothing could touch me. Falling into myself had been the easiest thing in the world.
The noise around me continued to increase, filling my ears with a constant buzzing. I tried to block it out but found it impossible. It was amazing how many things I found I was incapable of doing, and each one I accepted as though it was nothing.
I did not, however, accept the fact that the darkness was not going away. It amused me, actually- I’d spent the majority of my life wishing I could be alone in utter nothingness, and now that my wish had come true, I’d discovered that I absolutely hated it.
And then there were those voices; they were the same ones from the first moment I’d awoken to find the black sea around me. I had yet to figure out who they were; I was sure that at least one of them was a doctor. I tried to wonder why there was a doctor around me so often, but this bliss was shielding me.
Just as I was about to shut myself off to the world once again- I found that I could do it with ease now- a new voice made it’s way above the noise. This was not one of the three voices I’d become so familiar with, and yet I knew it immediately.
“Arielle.” The word came out in a whisper, that of one who was clearly in distress. And then the owner of the voice broke out into hysterical sobs.
Don’t cry, I pleaded, although I knew that no words were coming out. The ability to speak was one of the things I’d discovered was gone.
“It’s alright, Mrs. Crayton,” the familiar doctor said in a reassuring tone.
My mother managed to get her loud sobs under control. “What… what happened?” She croaked.
The doctor recapped the story he’d told so many times in the last however-long-it-had-been. I strained myself to listen as he told her of the accident, and the head trauma that he could now speak of so lightly, and, then, finally, the diagnosis.
“She’s in a coma.”
My mom did not break out once again into tears. She seemed to be frozen in silence, which filled the air in a deafening manner.
Then she spoke; her voice was barely audible above the constant hum of the room. “So, there’s a chance that she could wake up?” There was no hope in her; she sounded completely vacant, void of all emotion.
The doctor tried his best to sound cheerful. “A slight one,” he told her. “The probability is slim. Maybe ten percent. It was a very serious accident. It’s a miracle she’s still alive.”
This caused my mother to begin crying again, softer this time. I thought the doctor left, although of course I couldn’t be sure.
So I was in a coma. I was surprised at how much logical sense that made to me.
As I let that new knowledge sink in, another thought struck me. The accident, the lights and sounds, the hospital, all of it held one common factor- all of it was relevant to the nightmares I’d so feared.
And now it seemed my dreams had become my reality.
I tapped my foot impatiently as the receptionist yakked away into the phone. The nauseating smell of anesthesia and illness filled my lungs, a constant reminder of everything this place represented.
Finally, the bleach-blonde set the phone back in its cradle and turned to me.
“Can I help you?’ She drawled, chewing on her gum over-dramatically.
“Uh, yes, Arielle Kemp’s room number?”
Blondie turned to her computer, deftly typing some words and numbers in, moving around the mouse a little, blowing a few bubbles, and then returning to me.
“Sorry, kid. She has a no-visitors note,” the woman said lazily.
I felt my frustration rising within me, and it took all I had not to let it boil over.
“Can you at least tell me what’s wrong with her?” I asked through clenched teeth.
The blonde sighed in annoyance. ‘Look kid,” she repeated. “I don’t get paid to do any more than point you in the right direction. She’s still on the testing level, so as soon as the doctors have figured it all out, I’m sure all family members will be notified.”
And with that she returned to the phone, popping another piece of gum into her mouth. I forced a “thanks” before turning and moving away from the front desk.
At first, I really did have every intention of leaving right then and there. But then, as I was making my way to the revolving door, a gaggle of doctors came breezing past me with their white coats and their clipboards.
“Miss Cunninghamm is our number one priority, Dr. Higgins,” a particularly geeky one was saying. “She’s up on the fourth floor right now, where they’re running some tests on her.”
The briefest smile flashed across my face as the group continued on down the hallway. Ducking out of sight of the receptionist- who was too busy checking her Facebook to notice me anyway- I scurried down the hall towards the elevators.
Thankfully, I was alone as I rode the lift up to the fourth floor, which I assumed was the Testing Floor. I hadn’t the slightest idea as to what exactly I would do once I got there, but I was sure I’d figure it out once the time came.
That time came much quicker than expected. A loud ding caused me to jump as the elevator came to a jerking halt and the doors parted slowly. The first thing to catch my eye was a sign that read
Authorized Personnel Only.
Glancing around nervously, I peered around a corner. There was no one in sight, so I slipped out of the lift and into the hallway beyond.
The woman’s voice caught me off guard, and I was sure that I’d been busted. Pressing tightly up against the wall, I looked on and saw two doctors in full masks and all, pausing right in the center of the hallway.
“We need you in room 294,” she told him in an urgent tone. My heart skipped a beat, adrenaline from the fear of being caught mixing with the hope that I’d found Arielle filling me with a sick feeling deep in my gut.
Dr. Landry frowned. “Is that the Cunninghamm girl? She’s got the whole place in an uproar.”
The woman nodded, and together they hurried off without so much as a glance back at me. As soon as the shock wore off, I continued on my way down the corridor, trying to listen in at each door. Most were completely silent, and so I moved past them and on to the next.
The last door in the hallway was labeled 113. The door stood slightly ajar, and absolute silence poured out from within. Before I could talk myself out of it, I squeezed my eyes shut and gave the door a tiny push.
When I opened them again, I saw her. She was lying there, perfectly still, her long black hair spread out over her shoulders like the angel from my dreams.
She was as beautiful as ever. The bruises splattered across her pale skin, the cuts that covered her thin arms- they did not ever register to me. Though of course it killed me to see her in such a wounded state. So broken. These were the types of scars I knew would never heal.
She did not stir, did not move even a millimeter.
Hesitantly, I took a step towards her. Then, as soon as I was convinced that this was real, I shut the door quietly and rushed over to her side, dropping to my knees on the linoleum floor.
She looked so peaceful, so beautiful as she lay atop the gurney, like the image of my subconscious mind that I’d drawn so many times. As I took her pale, slender hand in my own calloused one, it was even easy to imagine the broad black wings stretched out regally behind her.
A million thoughts broke into my mind, a thousand words forming on my lips. But I managed to hold them all back, and I allowed that moment of absolute silence to be enough. There was no need to speak or think or anything but sit in the dark and hold her hand.
After a moment, I looked up, focusing my green eyes on her luminescent face. Her skin almost seemed transparent. And that was when I realized she was breathing. She was breathing. Which meant that she was alive.
These facts sunk in, filled me with such a euphoric rush that it was a miracle I didn’t burst out into laughter or tears of joy or both. She was alive.
The sound of footsteps in the hallway brought me back to reality. I didn’t know if they were heading towards this particular room or not, but I wasn’t about to take the chance. Not when I knew that there was still hope. Bringing her hand to my lips gently, I kissed it and whispered a ‘see you soon’. Not goodbye. Never goodbye, because that meant forever. Just a simple, quiet ‘see you soon’.
And I was absolutely convinced that she’d heard me.
“I’ll be back soon,” the angelic voice told me. “I promise.”
And then there was silence. It had been a male voice- one of the most soothing voices I’d ever heard. And there was something strangely familiar about it. For some reason, this particular voice stood out much more boldly than any other voice- even my own mother’s- ever had. I was sure that, if I focused hard enough, it would come to me; however, focusing hurt, and no matter how badly I longed to recall the name and face of the angel, I soon gave up, allowing my mind instead to return to the calm, still nothingness.