My vision came slowly into focus, the blurry edges pushing outward, fading, until I could see around me clearly. I looked through a maze of wires and tubes. Machines encircled the head of my bed. A monitor showed lines dancing across its screen, smooth and then jump! a happy little leap. An accordion-shaped cylinder trapped in a glass tube inflated and collapsed in rhythm, I realized, to my breathing. I tried to move, but found I could not, and suspected clamps and restraints held my body in place. My mouth felt dry, and I looked around for someone I could ask for a drink of water.
My husband sat in the visitor's chair at the foot of the bed, his head in his hands. I tried to speak, but my lips wouldn't move, not even a rumble or squeak came from my vocal chords. The doctor walked in, wearing a crisp white coat and a stethoscope around his neck, carrying what must be my chart in hand. My husband looked up when he entered, and I noticed how haggard he looked, his eyes red-rimmed and darkly circled. How long had he been sitting there, watching me? How long have I been here?
The doctor's voice was kind, but distanced, a professionalism that comes with practice.
Eric stood, shoved his hands in his pockets, and waited.
"Mr. Collier, you know your wife has suffered substantial brain damage. We've waited four months to see if she would come out of her coma. We have no reason to suspect that her condition will change, and even if she did miraculously come out of her coma, we would expect her to remain in a non-communicative vegetative state."
What? No, I'm here, I have come out of my coma. I'm not vegetative, you idiot, I can understand every bit of your medical mumbo jumbo.
Eric simply nodded. The doctor put his hand on Eric's shoulder.
"You knew this day would come, but I know this isn't an easy decision for you. Have you talked it over with your family?"
Eric nodded again. "Yes. They all agree it's the best thing to do."
The doctor patted Eric reassuringly.
"Yes, it is for the best," he said. "I'll give you a moment alone with your wife."
He left the room, and Eric shuffled to the side of my bed. Carefully pushing aside the wires and tubes connected to my body, he joined me. He slid his arm underneath my neck -- no restraints, after all -- and pulled me into his chest. He stroked my hair, caressed my face. His voice broke when he spoke.
"Jenny, I love you. You have no idea how much I love you. I don't know how I can do this without you."
Eric, I'm here! Don't give up on me, please don't give up on me. I want to come home with you. I want to see my girls again. Please, Eric, our girls need their mom.
"I won't let Maia and Kirsti forget you," he said. "I'll show them pictures, I'll tell them stories, I'll tell them you were the best mother in the world, and you loved them. I'll do everything I can to make sure they grow up to be just like you."
This isn't real. This can't be happening. Eric, please stop, please make this stop.
He kissed the top of my head, my forehead, my cheeks, and finally he kissed my still, unresponsive mouth. Then, he pushed himself out of bed, leaned out the door, and nodded to the nurse waiting outside. He sat back down in the chair, his head in his hands, no longer looking at me.
I heard a strain of music above my protests, faint at first, but louder when I quieted and listened for it. The nurse began turning nobs and flipping switches. Eric didn't move. I turned my head -- it turned, this time, I could move -- and looked for the source.
The tune was familiar, jaunty with a Jamaican beat. I slipped from my bed and moved towards the sound. I walked out of my room and into a soft, golden meadow. I was barefoot, and the grasses tickled my feet. Glancing around, I noticed all the colors, wildflowers of fuschia, yellow, violet, and orange. A small, black dog with white patches around his eyes came bounding up to me, nipping at my feet and wagging his tail.
Don't worry. Be happy.
I smiled. I reached down to pick him up, and he wiggled in my arms, squirming as he licked my face.
"Scamper? You silly dog, is this really you?" I looked around, wanting to see where he had come from. I saw my grandma walking toward me from the distance. She had her arms outstretched, and I ran to meet her, throwing myself into her familiar hug. She smelled of lilacs, but her face looked younger and happier than I remembered.
Don't worry. Be happy.
A crowd gathered behind her, and I knew them all, even though many I had never met or even seen a picture. My grandmother took my hand.
A heartbreaking wail pierced the serenity around me, and I looked back. Eric sat in my bed, my body limp in his arms. His shoulders shook as the sobs broke through his stoicism in ugly heavy groans. I started to walk back to him, but my grandmother pulled me back.
"Don't worry. He'll be all right. They all will be. And you'll be here for him, waiting." I hesitantly turned back to her, trusting her. She led me to the waiting host of welcomers.
Strains of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” floated into the room.
To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday.