Silence was always an odd ball for Coty. She liked it when she needed her mind clear and open but hated it when she was apprehensive and needed a good distraction. After dropping off some necessary files at the office and seeing a few new clients at work, she took a trip to the hospital. She had spent the whole night reading and going over every page that she had to read. It was a tough decision but she chose to join the trial. Apparently, at the time she arrived to confirm her participation, Lina had to consult on another case in the hospital. The receptionist had seen Coty to the office and left her in the cool room with nothing but loud ticking of the Newton’s cradle on the table and the whisperings of air from the conditioner.
The door slid open and Coty turned to look over her shoulder, waiting for whoever came in to speak.
“Miss Adesina…” Lina laughed, her heels clacking rapidly against the tiled floor as she rushed forward. “Sorry, Coty. I am so sorry I took so long to meet with you. How are you doing today?”
Lina pulled back her chair and Coty faced her. She smelled oddly of a different perfume than the one she had on when they spoke for the first time. Honestly, Coty thought she would smell more of disinfectant and chlorine than anything else. Which sounded more unfairly stereotypical the more she thought of it. “Fine thank you. I read all you gave me to read up on the process and I have decided to go through with the trial.”
“Oh that is wonderful Coty. I am honoured to have you along”—Coty heard the sound of a metal drawer sliding open, metal scrapping against metal—“This is a folder I want you to go over very carefully. You must read every word from that contract and make sure you understand the terms stated. This is to make sure that when you sign, you agree completely with what you are putting down. You would also need to find a support to be with you throughout the entire procedure. It could be a family member, a friend but someone is required to be with you.”
Coty read the pages, her fingers tracing against the coarse surface. “Do I really have to bring someone along with me? My parents live far away and my father is in very delicate condition. I haven’t even had the time to tell them I am doing this. I live in the city by myself. I don’t have any friends outside of work that can make time to go through all I read with me.”
Lina stood from her seat, Coty followed the sound of her heels until she fell into the seat beside her. “Coty, this is a compulsory requirement. This trial is something that would take a lot of mental strength, just like any major surgeries. We would run through many labs, many procedures before we finally give you the prototype to try out. The purpose of having somewhere there is to keep you in high spirits, to talk to you while the doctors are rambling with their big words and languages. Someone to stay with you in the hospital so you wouldn’t go stir crazy. Even as a doctor, seeing nurses and smelling chlorine everyday gets overwhelming for me.”
Two years ago, Coty dated a nice guy who delivered pizzas to her apartment. He was the longest relationship she had, kind, sweet, caring. His name was Peter but she jokingly called him Petty whenever they had an argument. He had taken ill a year after they began dating and they moved in together so she could take care of him, making sure he met all his schedules. Peter died three years after, from the moment she was alone. It never really bothered her, having little friends to fall back on and living alone after he died. She told herself being alone was not worst thing to happen to her but it now meant she had no one to stand by her side for the trial. If Peter was alive, she had no doubt that he would have supported her through everything.
“What if I can’t find anybody? That means I would have to give up the trial?”
“Not really no. Unfortunately if you have no one but really want to go ahead with this then the hospital would provide you with support in the form of a therapist. Personally I won’t recommend that either.” The chair scraped closer. “Look, you may not believe it but I think you have more support than you think. When your boss spoke to me about you, he did it with so much love and I have no doubt that someone else, at your work, is as enamoured with you as Kyle is. You don’t have to fill that last part today if you have no names in mind right now but take a moment to think and I am sure someone will come to you.”
Coty nodded, lowering her head for a moment in thought. “When the form is filled what do I do then?”
“Well you come back with the filled form and we will get you a plan for your procedure. We admit you into the hospital and begin testing for the first two days. If all goes well, you would get the prosthesis on the third day and by the fourth you will go through more test to make sure everything is working perfectly before allowing you out of the hospital.”
After a few more minutes talking, Coty wrapped up all she came to do, shaking the woman’s hand before she left. Ava drove her back to work, she was done for the day but she preferred to stay in the busy cafeteria setting that go home where her thoughts would surely stifle her courage and give her more pain than help. She sat by herself; tracing that particular line in the folder that required the name of someone she wanted by her side.
Her father was in delicate condition and she could not have him travelling to be with her when his health was so important. Her mother would rush right over but Coty would prefer she stayed back and took care of her father. Her oldest sibling was not in the country and there was no Peter. She felt so alone and she finally understood how big the world around her was. In a city of so many people, she could barely think of someone who could go through the trial with her.
“Coty!” She perked up at the mention of her name and smiled when Maggie slipped into a seat at her table. “I thought you said you were done for the day? Is everything alright?”
Coty reached forward, feeling around the table until Maggie took her hand and she almost broke down in tears. Maggie murmured, shifting closer to Coty’s side and slung an arm around her shoulder. “What’s wrong? Did something happen to you.”
Coty shook her head. “I…I need to talk to someone but I just realised that only person I have to talk to hear is-is you.”
“Well I’ll try not to take offence. Is that why you are about to break down.”
Coty laughed at Maggie’s dry humour, patting her face to make sure no tear had escaped her eyes. She did not want to draw any attention, no matter how professional a place of work was there would always be gossips. She did mean what she said to Maggie, it was not until she sat down that their relationship came to mind. In the entire company, though everyone treated her equally, she had the most informal relationship with Maggie. Who, from her first day, always tried to engage Coty in conversations, she always shared whatever gossip was trending around the office and was the first to send cards whenever Coty got sick. Maggie was invaluable; Coty remembered how much support Maggie gave her after Peter passed away. Though they never interacted outside of work, Coty felt that she could trust Maggie with just about anything.
“I well I want to know if I can... oh don’t take this the wrong way but can I trust you?”
“Of course,” Maggie laughed, without missing a beat.
“Well, remember the boss called me to his office yesterday, to talk about something? It turns out that…well it turns out that he was recommending me for a trial.”
“Trial?” Maggie asked, sceptic.
“Do you have some kind of legal problem?”
Coty started to reply when she paused to understand the question. Her brows rose in thought before she broke out in a short laugh, shaking her head in light amusement. “No a court trial, no. A medical trial.”
“Okay, you might have to rush me through this before I start jumping to conclusions with your every word.”
“Right. So, Mr. Knell recommended me to join the medical trial that is being set up to help test an equipment that would be able to give blind people back their sight.” Maggie gasped and Coty nodded, rushing through most of the details that the doctor already familiarized her with. Maggie listened attentively, not speaking or trying to interrupt Coty’s rundown. “I have agreed to go through with it.”
Maggie took Coty’s hands again. “This is something you are sure you want to do?”
“Well, let me tell you as a sighted person that is not an easy life either. Just as you have adjust to seeing nothing, some of us with our sight have also adjusted to not seeing somethings so we don’t drive ourselves crazy.” Maggie laughed but Coty sensed it was not out of humour. “It is going to be a very big change for you because not everything in the world is pretty, not everything you see would please you.”
“I guess that is why I am okay going through with the trial. Growing up, I know many people from my school who would have given anything to have their sight back. They had nothing against being blind but they would always say that if there was a choice, they would choose to have sight.” Coty shrugged, leaning back against her chair with a deep breath. She tossed her head back turning her face to the ceiling. “In taking this trial I can be part of a change in someone else’s life. Someone who is not like me, someone who is not content being blind and if after the trial I feel like sight is too much of a burden on me, I can always go back to my normal self.”
“That’s true. Ah, maybe I am just wondering how it would be for you to finally see me.”
Coty laughed at that. “Mr. Knell wants me sighted so I can marvel at his beauty; you also want the same thing?”
“Maybe,” Maggie replied in a dramatic whisper and Coty laughed. “This is going to be such a great change for you and I don’t want to be too forward but if there is anything you would need, a funny joke here or a corny advice there, I would be right here.”
Coty nodded, sighing as she straightened her spine. “Which brings me to the reason I am bombarding you with all this information. As part of the requirements for the procedure to go through, I need to have someone with me as emotional support while I am going through the process. I would have contacted my family but they are far away and they need each other. Yet, if I do not give them a name, the hospital would provide me with a therapist and I have never liked those.” She took Maggie’s hands again. “This, well this could also be me pushing forward but I was, well I wasn’t wondering before you sat down to speak to me but after wards, I wondered if it is possible for me to put… your name down?”
Maggie gasped, or chuckled, Coty was not sure which word fit most. She heard the chair grate against the floor. “Of course I would love to help you out?”
“Really! It wouldn’t be an inconvenience?” Coty shrugged and rushed to explain, “I know you have worked as hard as I have the whole week and you were meant to take your vacation days the same time I am taking mine. I wouldn’t want to impede on any plans you may have made.”
“Oh Adesina. You may not believe this but in this office, you are the closest thing to a friend that I have. If you need me to hold your hand through this entire procedure, I would be there. As long as it is what you want, put my name down, in all caps if you feel like it.”
Coty broke out in a nervous bout of laughter, breathing out heavily in relief. She dried the tears that managed to escape her eyes. In a way, listening to Maggie’s supportive tone, she felt bad. She had known Maggie for four years, the woman had worked in the company for years before Coty came along yet she was the most welcoming. She would always recommended movies for Coty to watch and keep herself entertained, offered her company during every lunch break. Coty wondered why she had never invited Maggie over to her house, to talk to the woman, get to know her outside of work. She wondered why she never allowed herself consider Maggie as a friend.
Coty sobered, turning in Maggie’s direction. “I don’t have the words to thank you for supporting me in this.”
“You don’t have to. Oh, I am so sorry Coty but I have some things to finish up in my office. Would you like for me to walk you to your car, maybe talk a bit more?”
“No. Go to work, it’s your last day so I’ll let you get back to work. You have don’t so much for me already. Listening to me and accepting to join me in the hospital through my procedure. I have to call my parents now and tell them of my decision to go through with this. I think I would spend all night in their company.”
“I can imagine.” Maggie stood from her seat and Coty did the same. Maggie hugged her, wrapping her arms around Coty and giving her a teasing squeeze. “You can call me if there is something I need to know and anything you might need. I’ll leave you to prepare for the long evening with your parents.”
Maggie left her again and she sunk back into her seat, her fingers bothering the rings that she wore. Throughout the day she heard the phrase ‘life changing’ on repeat. She knew it was something she would be accustomed to hearing until the entire trial was over. Yet she was strangely determined, there was a reason why she felt this push to go through with it. Something gnawing at her insides to complete the trial. Her life was about to change, she just hoped it was for the best.
She gathered her things into her purse, wiping her eyes once again. She had a phone call to survive. If she came out of her video call with her parents alive then surely she would survive the outcome of the trial.
The thought made her laugh, lightening her mood before she stepped away from the cafeteria.