It hurt. It always did. Even having practically a lifetime of experience being held against my will to give blood, it didn’t minimize the sheer agony the needle inflicted on me each and every time. Every month it became more fearsome and painful, oh so painful. It wasn’t until I reached the age of four, however, that I adopted the phrase “Silence is golden,” realizing that silence worked more in my favor, than my desperate cries to be set free.
Although I always found it daunting when I was alone in the woods, left to my own devices having to retreat into the cave of my deterring thoughts for comfort, that’s when I also felt the safest. From an outsider’s perspective, I could see that would be rather frightening to adopt such a twisted mentality, but once you’ve practically had the life sucked out of you a handful of times, your thoughts were the only thing you had control over, so you’ll do anything to cling on to them.
It’s rather sad, but for me, as well as many others it’s our reality. This time was no different.. I fought to stay awake, refusing to let them win this time. The more I fought, however, the more they probed and life supply they took, and I was already hanging on by a string, going in and out of consciousness. Although I was practically in hysteria in the back of my mind, on the surface, I was too busy trying to maintain consciousness.
I could feel my life slowly slip away as my breaths became more hollow, with each passing second. Everything around me looked like one big blur, and I could feel my eyes roll in the back of my head. A never ending black hole of darkness clouded my vision, and right before my body gave out, what I thought was a low murmuring sob crept into my ringing ears. It wasn’t until I woke up in the hospital hours later, that I realized the low murmur was actually a shrieking sob.
Once I gathered my bearings and recognized where I was, I overheard two nurses quietly murmuring in the next room over. Although their voices were very hushed, I managed to make out most of what they were saying, and even though most of it was random stuff, one thing that was said, made me instantly wish I didn’t have such heightened hearing.“ Poor girl. No child should have to be in the state she’s in. Hopefully she pulls through.” I quickly put two and two together and realized the girl I heard screaming was in critical condition. I felt an immense amount of guilt for not doing more to help her.
That night as I laid helplessly in my hospital bed, I prayed with endless tears and blubbering words that the girl would make it out of here alive. The sad thing though, wasn’t that I was a higher risk patient than she was given my history, or that I couldn’t give the police the vital information they so desperately needed, but rather that this was most likely the girl’s first time getting brutally attacked. She had her entire innocence snatched from her, whereas I had it taken away way before I could even attain it. No five year old should have to go through what we went though. It just wasn’t right or fair.
I examined my arm, which was not only hooked up to an IV and many machines-probably to transfuse blood supply to my body- but also revealed very weak veins and countless faded scars from over the years. As I further inspected my them, I couldn’t help but wonder how many tries it took to find a viable vein to insert the IV. I was most likely out of it while they were doing it, which I was grateful for because I hated needles.
There were times I would lie, and tell her I was fine, when in reality, my body was hurting so bad, that I couldn’t breath. Sometimes I could put on a good front and fool her, but most of the time she could see through my facade.
When we were alone, she would take my arm and trace my veins. Her touch barely grazed my skin, and what should have felt like a little tickle, felt like an explosion of pain. Every night before bed, she would kiss my forehead and tell me they were my love marks. There was so much irony of her statement, that it put a foul taste in my mouth. I never had the heart to tell her, so I would just smile and say I loved her.
Flash forward eleven years, here I was nearing 17, and while most people my age were already driving and living life to the fullest, I was living on borrowed time and reflecting on my past attacks in my spare time. My mind instantly reverted back to when I was seven. My two year anniversary of not being in the hospital was coming up, and my parents were planning a combined surprise party for our family friend, and anniversary party me.
I remembered being very giddy as I stepped off the bus that afternoon, only to be tied down and brutally attacked moments later. Apparently the bus driver had witnessed my disappearance and phoned my parents, who rushed to me as fast as they could. Unfortunately, they were too late to catch the culprits, but were able to get me to the hospital before my condition became too dire. As if being completely paralyzed on the left side of your face and having involuntary spasms wasn’t dire enough..
I was prescribed medication for the spasms, but sadly nothing could be done about my paralysis.
My parents were devastated, and although I didn’t show it for their sakes, so was I. Not many seven year olds could say they couldn’t move half their face. Despite the discouraging news on my health though, I couldn’t help but feel absolutely terrible about ruining my friend Carter’s surprise party. Although she smiled and said it was okay, practically a decade later, I couldn’t help but think she still held a grudge against me.
Not only did we go to the same school, but we were also in some of the same classes, and every time I saw her she would just glance me over once, then look the other way. Just by her body language alone, it was evident that she was still upset.
I slumped into my seat two rows behind, and exhaled a long, exasperated sigh. Apparently I had been holding my breath and my lungs needed to make this dramatic production in order to function properly.
I leaned over, practically on the floor trying to retrieve my green binder from my bag. All my binders were different colors for each class. It helped me stay somewhat organized, and helped me maintain some sanity- just some. As I started taking notes on the laws of gravity, or something related to science-it might as well be a foreign language like math- I couldn’t help but think about mine and Carter’s childhood. I remembered when we helped our parents build our treehouse when we were four, and created our own secret club. To this day, that tree house stood strong and proud in her parent’s backyard.
I frowned at the memory. Guess seven was a very monumental year for her or something.. It was important enough to practically shun your friend you’ve known half your life, after something that was out of my control landed me at the hospital...
It’s not like you could really do anything at that age anyway. It wasn’t like she could vote or drink like you could at 18 or 21. Or drive like she could now at 16. I knew her birthday consisted of a huge birthday bash, a brand new car and a later curfew, whereas mine consisted of being in the hospital recovering from my recent attack. Happy birthday to me..
At the end of the day, I couldn’t help but envy the girl, because even though we were only a month apart in age, she had everything everyone else had that I couldn’t.
Unlike me she wasn’t damaged goods, and didn’t have a deep dark secret looming over her head. She didn’t have to sleep with one eye open every night, afraid someone would fly through her bedroom window and suck the life out of her until her face was white as snow, or her lips were as blue as her veins. She didn’t have to worry about how to pay for all the doctor bills because they have skyrocketed in the past sixteen years. I suppressed a sigh. Man, if she only knew…
Although it saddened me that she and I weren’t friends anymore, last night’s events clouded my mind, and an unnerving chill crept down my spine. I couldn’t help but wonder how many more people like me were out there- how many of them were lurking around, preying on poor innocent souls. It sickened me to the core to know there was possibly someone out there suffering.
My mind instantly went to the girl I encountered when I was five. Where was she now? Was she dead? Alive? Still in critical condition? Incapacitated? After all these years, not once had my mind wavered from her well-being. When I was finally let go all those years ago, I hoped she would have come with me, but I guess they weren’t done with her yet. If only I knew her name, then I could search information about her on the internet.
Part of me hoped I would find her one day and tell her how deeply sorry I was for not saving her. Even though we were very young and frail, doing something was better than nothing. Questions that I wanted to evade crept into my mind. Questions like: what did they do with the blood once they acquired it? Were they illegal blood donors? Why not just go to the doctor if you needed a blood transfusion?
The next morning, I awoke to the sound of ringing. I tried moving my hands, but didn’t get a sliver of movement. Did something happen last night? Did I sleep wrong and my hand went numb or something? Wait, where was I?
I started wracking my brain through last night’s events, that could land me in this unknown place- wait was I- was I in the hospital?! Had I been attacked last night and didn’t know it?! Was I paralyzed in more areas? Could I not walk now? What was happening???
I started to hyperventilate, as more bizarre possibilities crept into my mind. Was I having an out of body experience? Was I dead?? Suddenly, I heard a voice, and although that confirmed that I wasn’t dead, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. That guy better not come anywhere near me, if he knew what was best for him. “Thank you for bringing her in when you did. If you would have waited any longer she probably wouldn’t be here”, I heard a distant voice say.
I let out a huge sigh of relief, when I heard a female’s voice. Now time to play process of elimination to figure out what was going on. “So she’s going to be okay?” I managed to make out a weak voice. It sounded like a male, and was back on high alert. I tried to stay confined and not make a sound, not that I had anything to worry about anyway, since my entire body was practically on lockdown.
“As of right now I can’t be certain. She has been in and out of consciousness for the past couple days and is very unstable”. Okay, so if I’m unconscious right now, I’m probably having an out of body experience. My mind was so foggy from the medicines they had me on, it hindered me from thinking clearly, or as clearly as a scatterbrained thinker could get. All I remembered was---------- all I remembered----- was all I--- remembered all I--- I--- BEEP_________________
I felt completely weightless, like I was a feather swiftly swaying through the cool breeze. I took one step forward, but feel absolutely nothing as my foot makes contact with the earth beneath me. I covered my mouth panic-stricken. Wh-why couldn’t I feel anything? Surely you’re able to feel something even in a critical state, right? Last time I checked, the left side of my face was the only thing paralyzed. That is, unless some of my other nerves were damaged from my recent attack?
I continued to stare at my bare foot, thinking if I stared at it long enough, the feeling would miraculously come to it, because you know that’s how logic works- Nothing. I decided to take the next step and started walking around. Ha! Get it, you took a step when you walked and- you know what I was in a coma for crying out loud! Give me a break. I walked around what looked like a cornfield, and was instantly reminded of my pawpaw’s acre of land with gravel pavement. He passed away when I was twelve.
Maybe I was going to join him if I didn’t make it out of the hospital alive.I lifted one of them and held it to my face- as light as a feather. I hesitantly connect it with my other hand and feel the same thing I felt when I took my first step- nothing.
The longer I was in the hospital, the more my days intertwined together. Not that it mattered since I was in so much pain, that I passed out every couple hours. At least I wasn’t dead- at least not yet. It was weird, because- I didn’t know if it was my subconscious, or what, but even when my eyes were closed it felt as if I were seeing through them.
I highly considered the out of body experience theory again because there was no other way to explain it. The doctors and nurses would just pat me on the back and tell me everything was going to be okay, which wasn’t really assuring, but I didn’t question them. The next day I felt very off. I heard a distant banging echo in my ears as I stared blindly at the cream-colored wall with bloodshot eyes. I didn’t know how much time had passed, but I eventually felt a light pressure on my shoulder and my body flail like a rag doll.
I knew it was a very traumatic experience for my mom, and I didn’t blame her for acting out at the time. I would have too if I were in her shoes. I ended up having to be induced and was out of commission for the rest of the day. The only good thing about that whole situation, was that I couldn’t feel any pain. It was both a curse and blessing.
“How is she?” A voice I instantly recognized asked. What was he doing here? I thought he made a run for it the second he got me admitted?
“She’s still in critical condition,” someone- I assumed was the nurse- informed in a flat voice. “It’s been over two weeks”, the guy pressed, his voice thick with concern. TWO WEEKS!!! DUDE LET ME OUT!!
“I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t know what to tell you. I can call you if anything happens.” I heard the sound of paper ripping and then the sound of a pen scribbling. “There’s my number. Call me if-when something happens”. There was so much pain in his tone that it confused me. Whoever this guy was couldn’t possibly know me, right? At least not on a personal level… I had a lot of acquaintances, so he was probably one of them.
If he was an acquaintance, then, how come he displayed so much concern for my well-being? Did acquaintances do that? Or was he just a random guy, with a soft spot for damsels in distress, and was at the wrong place at the right time… Guess I would never know….The days pressed on and I was still confined to this dadgum hospital bed. Since I had nothing else better to do, I started apologizing to life for all that I’ve taken for granted.
I’m sorry for jumping out of that tree when I was 12. In my defense my stupid brother took the chair away so I had no choice but to jump.
I’m sorry for being so reckless with my body and beating it against the wall resulting in countless bruises. I should have at least ten broken bones with the way I treat my body. I’m sorry for not drinking enough water and indulging in sugary flavored drinks to sustain me. I’m sorry-jolt!
What the heck was that? Without warning, a wave of spasms shot throughout my body. Was I seizing?? I felt my body jerk violently, and I could have sworn I was lifted off the bed for a second. The jerks were inconsistent, but quickly picked up. I thought I was going to die then and there. Right as the thought escaped my mind, however, I felt a needle prick my skin and the spasms suddenly subsided. At that moment, before the darkness took me under its wing yet again, I vowed that if I made it out of this alive, I would never take life for granted again.
Once I came to, my brain wasted no time throwing open-ended questions at me to ponder.
* exactly how much blood had they taken and how critical was my condition?
*Where were they now?
*Would they ever get caught?
Thankfully, my brain decided being a spazz was uncool and turned it down on the seizures. I only had one after my prior one over four hours ago. I was able to recover fairly quickly from this one and didn’t have to be sedated, which was an answer to my prayers.
That loopy stuff really messes with your head. Was that why I wasn’t able to feel anything in the field? Was one of the side-effects being numb? They should really put a disclaimer or something before putting it in my IV. Knowing I was duped for at least a good two hours, I decided to try and figure out who the mysterious guy was that brought me here. That should keep me busy for a while since I’m physically confound to this cardboard of a hospital bed.
Like seriously, doctors knew that patients didn’t just waltz in on their own free will, right? They were forced to be here because of the curses of the universe? The least they could do is provide at least some comfort. Since I had not even the slightest hint into what he looked like, how tall he was, etc.,
I had only my sense of hearing to help, which wasn’t much help. I didn’t know how long my thoughts had been going in circles, but just when I thought I was on the brink of cracking mystery boy’s identity, it was instantly lost by a knock on the door. Stupid door…
They knew I couldn’t talk right? Much less see clearly to see who it was? If I could, I would roll my roll them, but given that wasn’t really an option, I just growled inside.
How dare this person knock on my room door? I wouldn’t be surprised if they just waltzed in like they owned the place, making themselves right at home.
Although it wasn’t this person that landed me in the hospital- at least I hope not- my brain suddenly shifted gears and thought of countless scenarios as to what could happen. My life could end right here, right now. They could cut the machine off, put poison in my IV, suffocate me, switch IV’s and drain me cold turkey until I was a limp corpse…
Ohmygosh, Ohmygosh, Ohmygosh!!!! Please, please, PLEASE don’t let it be them! I instantly started praying more than I’d ever prayed before, promising to do better if I woke up, to change my ways, etc… I was just about to say “amen” when I heard a familiar voice. “Hey Ella.” HOLY SHOOT HE KNEW MY NAME!!!! WHO ON EARTH WAS THIS PSYCHO!!!!! I was on the verge of hyperventilating when he started talking again. “I know you may not remember me... I don’t really blame you... I was the kid that sat behind you in English class and constantly tap your shoulder during class...”
I heard him chuckle to himself. It sounded forced, like he had to physically make himself laugh. Sadly, that didn’t give me any indication as to who he was. A lot of people tapped me on the shoulder just to get a reaction out of me. It annoyed the living daylight out of me- especially when I was so engrossed in what I was doing and then got interrupted. Which reminded me, I still had a full list of people to poke-jab in the gut.
I started mentally going down my list: Anders. Danny, Jacklyn-man I hated her-Max, Dylan(my ex and acquaintance), Ginger(Caleb’s twin sister. Also an acquaintance), Caleb(nerd kid who I used to have a massive crush on last year. Got over that quickly when he asked out one of my so-called friends at the time. We are no longer friends), and Chandler. I didn’t know him that well. All I knew, was that he didn’t like to be left out of things, so I guess he just did it to fit in. So stupid if you ask me.
Once I was done counting, I realized that was almost ten people. It could shoot up to ten people pretty quickly if anyone tried anything on me. It didn’t make any sense, though, because half of these people I’d hardly exchanged a full sentence with-especially Jacklyn-, so the fact they took time out of their “precious” day to poke me in the gut irked me. One thing was for sure though, was that they would regret that they ever messed with me. They will be screaming bloody murder once I was finished with them.
If I ever saw her, I would jab her in the gut so hard, she wouldn’t even get a chance to say one of her predictable insults she tended to throw my way when I gave her the time of day after she poked me. Just the mere mention of her made my blood boil. Thankfully, the voice was a male, and although my anxiety was at an all-time high about that, it automatically eliminated her and all the girls. Thank the Lord!
That left Max, Dylan, Caleb, and Chandler, which narrowed the list but not by much. As long as it wasn’t Jacklyn or Chandler, I guess I would be okay. It didn’t help, that my loopy medicine inhibited my senses from working properly, so not only did it make me super groggy, but I couldn’t really pick up on anything other than some words/ phrases.
If my eyes would cooperate with me for just a fraction of a second, just long enough to get a glimpse of the guy... Then I would know who I had to tell off. I then vowed, that if I made it out of here alive, whoever this guy was, was now at the top of my poke list. He’d better watch himself if he knew what was best for him, and If must proceed to enter, proceed with caution.