My eyes opened slowly, first cracking the gunk that had glued them together in my sleep before they flew open as I realized that I was choking on something stuck deep down in my throat. I made a strangled noise and lifted my arm to grab the thing and pull it out. It would have worked, but my arms just weren’t responding to my commands; everything I tried felt like I was dragging sticks through mud. I tried to scream, but that only caused me to gag harder on the obstruction that was lodged inside of me. Wiggling my shoulders to the best of my abilities, I flailed my arms slightly, knocking my limp hands into the plastic guard rails that lined my bed.
A man in a white lab coat ran into my room, shouting something to the woman who followed him. My ears were ringing, like I’d just gotten back from a concert where I’d stood next to the speakers the entire night; the cottonesque feeling it left blocked out whatever the two people were saying. The man grabbed my arms and held them down, prompting me to flail harder as the woman tapped air bubbles out of a needle quickly. She lowered it to my arm, stuck my vein as quickly as she could, and depressed the liquid into me. The man on top of me stopped moving as my jerking motions slowed until I was laying still. My hands were released from the man’s grip and the obstruction was removed from my throat and placed on a tray table to be removed. I finally saw what had been the cause of so much trouble: a breathing tube.
Why did I have a breathing tube down my throat?
Now that it was gone, the smell of antiseptic wash, rubbing alcohol, and off-brand disinfectant stung my nose, like I’d squirted Purell into my hands and taken a deep whiff. I glared up at the man in the lab coat, lolling my head back against the pillows behind me so that I was able to look him in the face. He had picked up a metal clipboard hanging on the foot of my bed and was staring at it intently. The identification card hanging on the front of his blue striped shirt declared him to be Doctor Harrison Everett, MD; the name was also written in fancy script on the breast of his coat, I now noticed. He’d blinked when the card’s photograph had been taken, obscuring his hazel eyes from the picture that accompanied his name and work place, Lexington Memorial Hospital.
What was I doing at the hospital?
A group of other doctors appeared by the first, each of them holding small notebooks; a few pushed their reading glasses further up their noses nervously and quietly. All of them were younger looking than Doctor Everett, by what seemed to be at least ten years.
“Who’d like to start?” he asked. None of the younger doctors said a word. He frowned and snapped the clipboard shut, causing the doctor on his immediate left to jump anxiously. It was to her that he passed my chart. “Doctor White, you now have the floor.”
“Uh…” The blonde doctor fumbled with the metal board ungracefully for a minute, flipping through page after page of ink stained paper. “Wilhelmina Percival. Admitted three weeks ago in critical condition following a…” Doctor Everett held out a hand for the girl to stop and she went quiet almost immediately. I could practically feel the gratefulness rolling off of her in waves.
Now Doctor Everett turned to smile at me. It wasn’t a happy smile or an excited smile or even a sad smile; instead, it was cold and clinical, the kind of smile that one looked with at a paper they hadn’t wanted to write and yet had. “Hello, Wilhelmina. Do you know where you are?”