It got long so I decided to split it up. Next part tomorrow. Enjoy. And can you figure out what song this story is based off of? Here goes….eekkk…*inhale*
“Their Eyes” Part 1
Clunk. Sherrrr, sherrr, sherrrrrrrrrr. Clunsherrrrrrrrrr.
My eyes snap open. Everything is blurry, fuzzy, like a Nikon camera shifting in and out of focus, producing distorted motion with no details. The lampshade is a blue blob floating somewhere in the room. Somewhere between the Lazyboy chair and the wall. I can’t see the air conditioning vent. But I can hear it come on. Regular as clockwork. No need to set an alarm during the summer, because it’s always there..as loud as the recycling truck that rolls down the street on Tuesday. Sherrrr sheerrrrrrrrrrr.
I curl my toes under the comforter as the 65 degree air hits them. Every day, it seems to get colder, more noisy, and I feel more lethargic about getting out of bed. The sheets are warm, and smooth, and smell like vanilla and lavender. Other than that darn air conditioner, there’s nothing to disturb the peace.
I reach over to the bedside table to swipe my contact lenses, but either the nurse moved them or they fell down because I’m grasping at thin air. I grit my teeth and roll a little further toward the edge, my feet getting tangled in the sheets. My elbow slams against the table ledge, and I let a “Shhhhhhhhhhh—-” escape my mouth before I remember to keep my language down so no one will know I’m awake. My hand gropes along the bedside table. There’s something there, where the contacts used to be. Paper. Thick, scrapbook like paper. There’s writing on them, drawings. Stick figures with curlique hair and devilish smiles and flowers and houses and a brown creature that is either a horse or a bear. Or a dog. “Get Well Soon,” all of them say. There’s five. No, seven. Not the five-dollar ones from Target that are manufactured to spare people time and the nuisance of creativity. These are handmade.
I shove the cards into a stack, and fold them over, not bothering to crease the seam. Under the pillow they go. I sink back onto the vanilla lavender pillowcase and breathe in. The air conditioner turns itself off. Clunk.
When I wake up, it’s churning out cold air again.
The nurse is in my room. She moves about like a hummingbird. Flits to the sink for a cup of water, unscrews the child lock of prescription meds, picks up my pj drawers from a week ago, pulls the blinds open, turns on the tv, hands me a hairbrush. “Mornin, you.”
“Hi.” My voice is raspy.
“Listen to that preacher. Heart of gold, I tell ya.”
I clear my throat.
She likes to watch that kind of stuff. Personally, I would rather hear the air conditioning. But since she’s nice enough to do all the things I won’t, I don’t tell her to turn it off.
She stops for a moment and stares at the TV. Her eyes are brown, dark like Hershey’s kisses, and they droop around the edges. I can never tell if she’s really happy or just trying hard not to be sad.
The nurse cups her hand around the pills and hands me the glass. “Doing well?”
I swallow and nod.
“I changed your sheets again.”
In the background, I can hear the preacher slam his fist on the pulpit, the sound echoing through the Tv speakers. “You can make yourself a better person,” he raises his hand in the air and it is clear that there are thousands of people sitting in the dark, the lights illuminating their faces. Pale. “You can move on from your past. Just do all that God wants you to, and I promise you…I promise you!…He will bless you…you will not feel the pain…”
A laugh escapes my throat, hoarse like my voice, hoarse like a smoker’s cough. The nurse turns to me with a frown. “Huh?” She gasps. “What–?”
But I can’t stop laughing.
She shakes my shoulder and says…something.
Then before I know it, I’m on the carpet, on all fours, the sheets wrapped in a bundle around my shoulders. Coughing, breathing, wheezing, gasping. The air conditioner is spitting out fire, blazing fire! and I’m swallowing it, gulping it down because without it the world grows dark. I’m clutching my chest, then my throat. Pulling at my skin, pulling at the clothes to get them off. Air, air… I have the cards in my fist. Torn. Colored paper ripped. Stick figure heads in red and purple shreds across the carpet. I hear the nurse’s voice, the preacher’s voice, but they sound like fireworks booming in my ears and then fizzling out into dead, dead silence. I pound the carpet with my fists and try to scream but nothing happens.
“It’s an allergic reaction.” Someone says as soon as I wake up.
I’m not in my regular bed, but in the hospital one. The doctor is hovering over me, his badge swinging back and forth over my stomach. He sees that I’m awake, smiles and says something charitable, but all I can see is the white ceiling and the blinding lights–everything still blurry. The sheets are scratchy here. Like Kleenexes. They smell like bleach. There’s no air conditioning racket, but alot of other beeps, and clod-hopper footsteps and pa systems calling random names to Room 8 or Room 12. The clock says 12:20. The following day.
“She had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Allergic to the experimental treatements…?” The doctor says dryly, perusing the paper. “Any other allergies to medication?”
“No, sir.” The nurse’s eyes flick back and forth from the tv to the doctor. The preacher is on again, only this time he’s talking about health and wealth being byproducts of salvation. I wonder if she watches it because she actually believes it or because it gives her a spiritual high that numbs the nerves. Her eyes look especially dark right now.
“Clean, far as I know.”
The nurse gives a sad smile. I close my eyes so they think I’ve drifted off again. Their voices move across my mind, bringing back images of when they told me I had cancer. The symptoms.
“Joint pain, an wheezing and choking at night.” The nurse relays. “Just like what she did today.”
“And the depression?”
“Well. You know the Make a Wish people? They came to her years ago and asked what she wanted an she told them she wanted to die. Heck I’ve never seen anyone’s faces go that pale that fast. She begged them ‘please give me something…please do it. I know you can!’ and they just stood there and stared. Didn’t know what to do. But it’s always been her dream. Says that will get rid of them.”
The doctor paused mid-note. “Them?”
The nurse didn’t answer.
He mumbled something about psychiatric and counselor and hallucinations under his breath before he left the room.
I stare at the ceiling as the tv drones on. There’s a poster up there, and it reminds me of the get well cards. Blue and pink and creamy yellow, a girl and a boy holding hands with patches of grass in the background and the sun over their heads. They are smiling. Their eyes are blue.
I remember. I remember their faces. I remember their eyes.One of the Make a Wish girls had particularly blue, sparkly, happy ones that danced with tears when I told them my dream. I remember how those eyes met mine and told me I was cold, pathetic, lost.
And maybe I was.
Because her eyes look no different than those of the nurse and counselor when they walk back in and see me with the scalpel.