“Hey, Lilly,” Stuart said, as he sat in the chair beside her. It was the third week after the incident at the mall and she’d been taken to the hospital, yet there was still no change.
After the second week, she was moved to a regular room in the pediatric ward, still with all of the equipment attached to her. They had decided that she was stable, if unchanged, and no longer needed the ICU.
As he had for three straight weeks, every single day, he held her hand and just talked to her. He usually talked about mundane life, everyday things. It was what his life was prior to meeting her, the things he liked, the movies he watched, his school, even his friends. None of that mattered anymore. He told her how his grades were falling, but he didn’t care.
At his wits end, he dropped his head onto the bed, the top of his head touching her side. “I know you don’t like me, and you’re probably creeped out by me. Most people are, because I’m a loser, but I really miss you. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before,” he said, his tears wetting the sheet. He sat there for a long time, crying beside her.
Eventually, it was time to go, as it always was. “I’ll be back after school tomorrow. I promise,” he said, lightly kissed her cheek and left with his parents. Another week passed, still with no change. The black roots were beginning to overtake the dyed portions of her hair, giving him a hint of just how black her hair was.
“Stuart, I’m sorry son, but I think it’s time you let her go,” his father said, as they were driving home.
“No!” Stuart replied.
“Son, the neurosurgeon believes her brain is too scrambled from whatever they injected her with, or maybe something else about her ability they don’t understand,” he said.
“Dad, that’s it!” Stuart exclaimed, brightening up.
“What?” his Dad asked, not sure the cause of the sudden change.
“Take me back, please,” he begged.
After looking at his son for a long moment, feeling compassion for the boy, he finally nodded, “Alright, son.”
“Lilly,” Stuart began, before he was even seated fully. Her hand in his, he whispered, “I know you’re in there. You’re safe now. You can let the animals go. I promise, you’re safe,” he pleaded. As had been the case for four weeks, there was no change. She remained comatose.
“Lilly, I love you. Please wake up,” he begged, putting his head down, as he had the day before, and crying.
“You’re such a dork,” he heard the faintest whisper. Looking up, she looked just as she had. He wondered if he’d just imagined it, but then he saw the moisture in her eyes. Unable to stop himself, he kissed her on the lips. It was a chaste kiss, something simple and pure. Barely perceptible, he felt her lips return the kiss.
“Doctor!” he yelled out, “She’s alive!”
“Of course, I’m alive, doofus,” she whispered, then said, a tiny bit louder, “Get your grades up or I’ll beat the shit out of you,” letting him know that all of his talking had actually been heard. That effort was obviously all she had, as she returned to unconsciousness, the doctor never having heard Stuart’s call.
“Dad, she woke up,” he declared, when his Dad finally decided it was time to go.
“Really?” his Dad replied.
“She talked to me a little,” Stuart told him.
“Are you sure you didn’t imagine what you wanted to happen?” his Dad asked.
“She talked to me, Dad,” Stuart said.
“Stuart, they’re about to declare her brain dead,” his father informed him.
“No, they can’t!” Stuart yelled.
“It won’t change her status. They won’t kill her, but they also won’t try to revive her,” his Dad said.
“But Dad, she really did talk to me,” Stuart argued.
“Stuart, I spoke with the neurosurgeon while you were with her. They’re convinced now that her mind isn’t really functioning, just sending current through broken pathways. In other words, her mind can’t heal,” he said.
“She talked to me,” Stuart cried, sounding as if he was trying to convince himself as much as his father.
That night, when all was silent, Lilly opened her eyes. It wasn’t for long, but she studied her surroundings, noting the medical feel of everything. She wasn’t sure if what she’d said to Stuart had been real, or her imagination. If it was her imagination, why hadn’t she told him the truth, rather than be rude like she always was? Why couldn’t she grab onto something good, for a change? The incredible pain was making it hard to think, though.
The next afternoon, Stuart returned, not caring what his Dad or the other doctors believed. Stuart was certain of what he’d heard.
“Lilly, they think you’re brain dead. Please wake up and let them know you’re really alive,” he pleaded.
“Of course, I’m alive,” she told him.
“Doctor!” he called out, but she went back to sleep, before the doctor arrived. Nothing Stuart did could convince anyone that she was waking up. The brainwave monitors were registering nothing that caught their attention, and they studied the moments he described to them. Days passed with nothing more, and he even began to doubt himself.
“Lilly, I think I’m going crazy, and they’re probably going to stop letting me see you. They think I’m becoming psychotic, or delusional, or something like that,” he said, his head laid down again.
“You are delusional, but I like you that way,” she said.
“Lilly, I wish this was real,” he said.
“So do I,” she replied, gripping his hand. “Why are they going to stop letting you come see me?” she asked.
“Because they think I’m imagining that I’m talking to you. They say that there’s no change in your brainwaves to indicate that you’ve woken up,” he explained.
“I’m a kid and I know my brain waves are different than anyone else’s. Of course, they probably don’t know that, I guess,” she said. He marvelled at the thoughtful look she had. It was so incredibly beautiful to him, and betrayed the incredible intelligence hidden inside. Then he realized, her eyes were open. They were actually open, and she was looking at him.
“I think I’ve changed my mind about what I want to be when I grow up,” she said. Stuart almost cried at how weak her voice was, but it was also the sweetest sound he’d ever heard. He’d compared her voice to what he imagined angels sounded like, but in that moment, he knew they paled compared to her.
“What did you want to be?” he asked.
“I was thinking about chemical engineering, or maybe mechanical. I changed every once in awhile, but now I think I want to go into neurology, but I think I want to do research,” she said.
“Is this real, or am I imagining it?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I hope it’s real, or else I’ve been captured and they’re doing horrible things to me and my mind is making this up to give me something good to focus on,” she said.
“I’m good?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she said, as if he should’ve already known that.
After an awkward moment, she said, “Get me a piece of paper and a pen.” A moment later, she wrote a note, and set it on her little table. It took a long time, her weakness worrying him, but she did it.
“Give that to Mrs. Gomer, my caseworker, and I don’t care if you read it,” she told him.
Opening it up, he read,
My name is Priscilla Pimlott, known as Lilly by only those I care about, and there aren’t many. I’ve been in 10 different placements since being put in state custody, or maybe 11. I’m actually not really sure. The one I liked the most was with the Bazemores. I think they wanted to adopt me, but Leonard took a transfer and wasn’t allowed to. Like everyone else, but maybe Stu, they left me, but I don’t think they had much choice. I’m not dead in here, so please don’t give up on me. By the way, please tell Horace I miss him.
My mother was Caitlin Pimlott, and I don’t have any clue who my father was, or if he ever cared about me. Apparently, I’m from Scotland and I don’t think I’m a legal citizen of the US, but I’d like to be.
Well, I guess that’s all I’ve got to say, not that anyone will care. Please don’t keep Stuart from visiting me. He’s the only thing keeping me sane.
He set the letter back on the little table, unable to form any words. As he looked back at her, she was unconscious again. He leaned over and kissed her, again feeling the return of the kiss. Although no one believed him, he knew she was alive and talking to him. There was no longer any doubt for him, and if he was wrong, insanity might not be so bad.
“Dad, I need to see Mrs. Gomer,” Stuart said.
“Who’s Mrs. Gomer?” his Dad asked.
“Lilly’s caseworker,” he replied.
“Why do you want to see her?” he asked.
“Lilly wrote a letter she wants me to give her,” he said.
“Did she really write the letter, son?” his Dad asked.
“I didn’t write it. Besides it not being my handwriting, there’s things in it I couldn’t have known, like what her mother’s name is, and how many homes she’s been in,” he said.
“She could have told you any of those things before...what happened,” he said.
“Dad, do you really think she would’ve told me anything about herself?” he asked.
After a little thought, his Dad said, “No, probably not.”
“Alright, son. We’ll get your mom to take it to Mrs. Gomer tomorrow morning, and let her be the judge of it,” his Dad said.
The next day, when Stuart went to Lilly’s room, there were a couple of doctors there, all doing various things around her.
“Are you Stuart?” one of them asked, and he nodded.
“I’m Dr. Viktor Dunn, the neurologist assigned to Priscilla. I understand you’ve spoken to her,” he said. Again, Stuart nodded.
“What did she say?” he asked.
“I don’t know, we just talked a little, but she wanted to make sure I told Mrs. Gomer that she wasn’t dead, or anything,” he said.
“Thanks to that letter, we noticed a small alteration in her brain waves last night. My guess is that happened when you were talking to her,” he said.
“So you believe me?” he asked.
“Yes, son. We believe you, but that still doesn’t explain why we’re not getting much from her brain activity, and why it looks so jumbled,” the doctor said.
“Do you know what she can do?” Stuart asked.
“Are you referring to the thing that happened at Northlake Mall?” the doctor asked, and Stuart nodded.
“Yeah, I know about that, even though I have a hard time believing it,” he admitted.
“She thinks her mind works differently, because of what it is she can do, and it won’t look right to you and your machines,” he said.
“She said that?” the doctor asked.
“Yeah, and she said she thinks she wants to go into neurology research,” Stuart replied.
“If half of that story is true, she could be the subject of her own research,” the doctor said, smiling.
“When will she wake up, and be normal again?” Stuart asked.
“I’m never going to be normal,” she said. With her reply, there was a flurry of activity around her, and it was very obvious, she didn’t like it.
“Stu,” she managed to get out, her voice strained.
“What?” he asked, trying to get his voice heard over the cacophony of the doctors.
“Hold my hand, please,” she pleaded. That simple request brought tears to his eyes, and he worked his way through the doctors to fulfill her request.
“Your hair’s turning black,” he told her. She smiled up at him, but didn’t reply. Moments later, she was asleep again.
Her time awake improved a little bit each day, but it still took weeks for her to return to a near normal sleep pattern. Once she did, it took several more weeks for her to be able to walk more than a few steps. From there, she was on a mission, and her recovery improved rapidly. She enrolled herself in a gym after the third week of physical therapy, although the doctors told her she wasn’t ready. Lilly didn’t care what they thought.
Twelve weeks after waking up, she returned to school. She had a lot of catching up to do, but she’d started doing school work, once she was able to keep her eyes open longer than an hour at a time. Her makeup work wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, thanks to the fight she put up, and Horace getting her tutors.