Chapter 20.. The Abyss
In a dreamy state of complete grayness, at times I could feel pain radiate throughout my body. I could hear faint noises, like beeping monitors and squeaky wheels on carts, and at times, I thought I could hear Alex swear at something or someone, but I couldn’t respond.
Unable to feel most of my body, as though I was floating about, the only thing grounding me was when I’d see Randy Davenport with those scissors. My back felt as if it were on fire whenever I saw him with those scissors, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t make him go away until the warmth came over me and the pain subsided again.
I heard Alex in the background ordering someone around, but all I knew was that it wasn’t me. When the pain would subside, Randy would fade from view and Alex was silent again, only for both to return when the pain would become unbearable, and I would float again. When I least expected it, he pulled on my hair.
My scalp hurt from where he pulled it like there was gum matted in it and he was yanking on it. I could hear myself begging him not to cut it, not to hurt me, to let me go, but I couldn’t say it then. I could only think it.
“Did you see that?” I heard Alex plainly. “She moved. Her fingers, they moved.”
“Mr. Corwynn, it could be involuntary muscle spasms again,” said the nurse removing another EEG electrode from my hair, yanking it with the dried gel as she wet it to remove the mostly dried up gel from it and my scalp.
“Damn it, I told you she moved. That’s no muscle spasm, damn it.”
I heard a woman from behind me get smart with him right back and the noise they were creating made my face and head hurt worse. When I tried to open my eyes, everything was blurry and I could feel someone pressing on my skull, rubbing it hard with a cold cloth. I just wanted to move to avoid it and for the warmth to overtake me again so I could sleep, so I could just rest and not listen to the bickering.
“Look, she’s coming around!” he exclaimed. “Meg, Meg, hey there,” Alex said as I opened my one eye as far as it would go. I tried to talk to shush him, and I couldn’t. My mouth hurt so badly as I tried to open it, so I stopped forcing it and I sobbed instead. Crying was the only thing I could do, I realized. Alex kept kissing my forehead; reassuring me, I was all right. Without thinking, Alex drew me up to him and wrapped his arms around me as I took deep breaths to control the pain, not certain if I wanted him to let me go or keep holding me.
“That’s my girl, it’s all right that bastard can’t touch you anymore,” he kept repeating as the nurse raised the bed so he wouldn’t hurt me hugging me so. I winced in pain as the bed sat me up, taking quick breaths to make it subside some, but not enough.
Alex kept talking to me. I couldn’t make out half of it; I just wanted to shush him, close my eyes and go back to sleep. He covered my face in kisses, and I couldn’t help but cry, but tears didn’t come from my eyes easily. It burned as they started, and I couldn’t open my eyes all the way. The sharp biting pain and the bright lights made my eyes and head hurt, so I tried to calm down, shut them some, and try to manage the pain that Alex didn’t understand in his excitement. When he put his cheek against mine it was wet, what he said was all jumbled and I couldn’t hear half other than “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. . .I love you, I’m sorry. . .”
Things were coming back to me rather slowly that afternoon. The car wreck, I remembered that. Randy rear-ended me then pulled me out of my car, releasing me from the cocoon of the airbag and the back of the driver’s seat. I was straining to think of what happened next when a doctor came in and shined a light in my eyes, making me squint to avoid it. When I tried to look at Alex again, who was now on the phone calling Anna and Brandon, his head was nothing but a ball of red from the sunspots in my eyes. He was terribly excited though. Relieved, it seemed.
“Megan,” said the Indian doctor approaching the bed, trying to get my attention. “Do you hurt?” I nodded as much as I could. Everything hurt.
“I’ll give you something for the pain, but it will make you sleep.”
I could sign, I learned years ago when I worked for a deaf children’s camp. When I raised my hand to sign since I couldn’t talk, I felt the heaviness of it and saw the cast on my arm. Then I lifted the other, and likewise it was in a cast. Like a helpless baby, I could do nothing but cry. My mouth was so dry, and tasted like blood. I just wanted to brush my teeth, rinse out my mouth, get rid of that taste, but I couldn’t tell them what I wanted.
“What, Meg?” asked Alex, “Hush now, don’t cry.”
“Are you in pain?” asked the doctor.
“Do you want something else?” asked Alex.
I nodded again.
“What do you—no, wait, ummm—are you thirsty?” asked Alex.
“Good, she can have some of that ice water there,” said the doctor.
Alex held the cup to me and put the straw in my mouth. I slowly sipped the water and drank it for a bit before letting the straw go again.
“Is that better?” asked Alex. I nodded.
“Do you need anything else?” asked the doctor.
“Are you hungry?” asked Alex. I nodded again. He looked to the doctor.
“We’ll have to give her a nutritional shake to start out with. I’m afraid anything puree would come back at her for a couple days because of the anesthesia.” The doctor told the nurse who had entered the cubicle to get me a shake then he wrote the order for the pain meds in the chart.
“When she’s done with the shake, we’ll have the nurse administer another round of pain medication.”
The nurse brought in the shake, and Alex held it and the straw for me. It tasted awful, but my stomach felt like it was closing up with hunger.
When I had the shake half gone, I stopped sipping, giving my stomach a break. Alex hadn’t stopped smiling yet and brushed the loose strands of hair away from my face. Brandon stood at the door. He came in with a flower arrangement of daisies and mums. No roses allowed, they knew. I smiled at him through my tears and he came to my other side and kissed my forehead then pulled me against him and held me until I stopped crying.
“You had us so scared,” he said to me. I must have given him a rather confused look when he set me back against the bed. “He almost killed you this time. He’s in jail, and he’s never getting out, is he, Alex?”
“Not in the near future anyway. He was denied bail. He’s at Rikers.”
I nodded, a bit relieved.
“Angie started school this week,” announced Brandon. I smiled and wanted to ask a million questions and hoped that he would answer them all with whatever he told me.
“She really likes it. She’s a busy girl though, and that’s good. Angie is taking a watercolors class right now and used one of her sketches from the summer for her initial project. I have to say it’s one of the most beautiful florals I have seen for a while. The girl has a definite gift when it comes to art.” I smiled and took the straw back into my mouth while Alex’s fingers rubbed the life back into my own.
When I stopped sipping the chalky liquid through the straw, I looked to Brandon, waiting to ask him about that artist he desired to sign for the gallery’s exhibit in September. Did he commission him after all or did he reject Brandon’s offer?
“What, Meg?” asked Brandon.
“You have to ask her yes/no questions, Bran’.”
“Right. What do you want to know about?” he asked.
“That wasn’t a yes/no question,” replied Alex, getting smart.
“School’s good. She loves her room. I think we’re going to have issues with that Trigonometry teacher, but she tested out of French, so she doesn’t have to take a foreign language. She’s glad, you know, because she can take more art classes. No boyfriends yet, thank God. Not ready for that, are we, Alex?”
“No, not after the last one.”
“Easy, don’t blow a gasket, Daddy,” replied Brandon, making me smirk at them.
“Did that answer your question?” he asked.
I nodded half-heartedly.
“No, but it will do for now?”
I nodded and finished the shake as I sucked air up through the straw. When Alex took it out to the nurse’s station, I caught Brandon’s eyes. He had on one of my favorite shirts, the salmon one tapered on the side, sleeves pushed up to his elbows, so his gold chain bracelet and the watch on the other wrist was exposed. I wanted his hand to hold mine, to tell me this was all a bad dream to wake up and find myself back in my bed at Alex’s house.
“What, love?” he asked, with a very concerned look on his face. I looked over to where Alex had been standing on the other side of the bed.
“You scared him really bad. In fifteen years, I had never seen him cry before the night you were abducted. You know that he doesn’t express feelings, but he did when they found you. He does love you, you know that don’t you?”
I nodded and felt tears in my own eyes.
“He’s taking his pills though and seeing Ruby. She’s been here every day to talk with him since this happened.”
How many days had I been there? Brandon, thinking on the same wavelength as usual, realized that I was trying to remember what day Randy nabbed me.
“Three days, Meg. See, its Monday,” he said, moving so I could see the calendar. I nodded. “He’s fine, really. You’re the one we’ve been concerned about.”
“Anything else?” he asked. I nodded.
“Let’s see, the foundation?”
I shook my head to that one.
“Anna?” I nodded.
“She’s fine. She’s been here too. Bringing Alex dinner so he’d eat something decent for a change. And yes, he’s been sticking to his diet.”
I smiled as much as I could without hurting. “Anything else?”
I thought before I answered. I nodded.
“What? Um, let’s see, Anna, Alex, Angie, I’m fine, you know that, um, Sean and Ryan are fine, on their way over in hopes of giving Alex a break, but I don’t think wild horses could keep him from this room. He and the nurses aren’t exactly best friends. Alex refused to leave your side after the first day. See that chair? He’s been sleeping in it. Anna has been bringing him changes of clothes, and he’s been to my apartment for showers and shaves. However, he doesn’t leave the city. Maybe he’ll go home to rest now that you’re awake.”
“Bran’,” said Alex in a disappointed tone as he came back into my room. “You didn’t have to tell her that.”
My eyes pleaded with Alex not to be upset with Brandon. After all, I was the one who asked about him as much as I could.
“What, Meg?” Alex asked.
“Do you want him to go home tonight and get some sleep in his own bed?” asked Brandon.
I didn’t answer at first, and then I nodded.
“She wants me to stay. Don’t you Meg?” I sort of nodded.
“Tonight is your last night staying with her. Tomorrow night, you’re back home.”
“Fine, Bran’,” Alex replied, reaching for my fingers, stroking them, then setting them on his wrist as he sat down in the chair that he had pushed against the side of my hospital bed so that he could sit closer to me. My fingers rested against the crisp soft fabric of his broadcloth shirt, as he got comfortable in the chair. When he was, Alex rubbed my cold fingers and said nothing. Just our eyes met. It was as if in the silence he wanted me to know that it was so wonderful to have me back.
The nurse came in with my injection. She pressed the plunger of the syringe so that the liquid seeped into my IV and Alex stayed with me some more while Brandon refilled my ice water pitcher. I motioned for the cup. Alex reached for it and set the straw between my lips. After I finished off what was in the cup, Alex looked for the pitcher on the bed table and realized that Brandon had taken it to refill.
“Do you want more?” he asked in an urgent tone, upset that Brandon had taken the pitcher when he needed it. I shook my head. Brandon was in enough hot water for tattling on Alex. As Alex rubbed my fingers, I felt a warmth settling come over me. Before long, I was asleep.
“Go home to bed, Alex. She’s going to sleep through the night now,” said Brandon. “It’s six o’clock for Christ’s sake. If she wakes, they’ll just give her another shot.”
“No, Bran’ she asked me to stay. I’m going to stay with her.”
“Do you think she remembers?” asked Brandon straightening my blankets. When he felt how cold my fingers were, he took a blanket from the cupboard and covered me with it.
“Maybe it would be better that she doesn’t.”