Short Stories

 

A dark piece on locked-in syndrome

Reviews

 

Ann Liska 

"Dark well-written piece."

Brendan Carroll 

"Wow. Very engaging story. Well written with a powerful, thought-provoking message. This is something I've feared since I was a small child and saw some dumb movie about a paralyzed guy they were about to bury until he finally managed to cry a single tear. Well done."

Hannah Marie 

"Really touching story Louise Rachel Durrant, it gives the readers something to think about. I thought your observations seemed genuine too, such as his complaint that the nurses treated him like he was three years old, makes me kinda mad that people can be so ignorant, though I like how he remains wry and comes across as a real personality. Nice work."

Can You Hear Me?

“So are you making his breakfast?”

                “Yeah, can you go and get his medications?”

                I watched her float across the room in front of me as I sat in my chair. She smiled gracefully, but her eyes were soulless, there was no compassion behind that smile.  I guessed I was not expecting any; at the end of the day, they were trained to ‘care,’ not to actually care.  I felt like I saw a new one every day. I assumed the government were mass producing them with taxpayers’ money; I mean ‘what money’.    

               “Hailey, I’m not sure what I am doing with all these drugs?”

                  The other one came into my focus, she also smiled at me apathetically.  “Go and get his breakfast, I’ll go speak to him.” I watched her make her way towards me, my subconscious was scowling at her, I knew exactly what she was about to say.

                  “Hello Mr Cranley, I am Hailey your new nurse, you’re looking really well today. Because it’s such a lovely day, we’re thinking of taking you outside. But first, we need to give you your medications and breakfast.” She tilted her head to the side and pulled that typically concerned face they all did. “We will take real good care of you, don’t you worry.” I saw her hand touch my arm. Then she scurried off out of my vision, but I could still hear them.  

                  “Why did you just do that? He can’t understand you.”

                   “Just what I always do with patients, you never know though, he may understand, he’s had no diagnosis yet.”

                  “Don’t kid yourself, we all know.”

                   We all know! They had no idea, the doctors had no idea, my wife had no idea.  I was the only one who knew. 

                   The way they talked to me, at first it outraged me, but now I barely blinked an eyelid - I was used to it now.  I had only been back from the hospital for two weeks but the place I was in had trapped me for eternity, and it felt like an eternity. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes felt like hours and days felt like weeks.

                   Yesterday they put on a CD for me to listen to; I must have heard three blind mice over twenty times.  I was a forty-five-year-old man, yet somehow, they saw me as three years old.  I must admit, I hadn’t looked in the mirror, maybe I did look three years old, I couldn’t even see my legs or body so I guessed I could be the height and build of a three-year-old now.  

                  But I bloody well didn’t have a mind like a three-year-old, but of course, they had no clue did they. 

                  What riled me the most was that all this ‘care’ they were providing me, was only prolonging this place I was lost in. The ‘care’ would never free me, never allow me to escape.  I saw it as torture.  Even if they knew what was wrong with me they would carry on torturing me anyway, because that was how it was. 

                   And the worse part of it all was in this lonesome place, my wife didn’t exist.  I could live with no one else around me, as long as I was with my wife. Why couldn’t the doctors unlock me from this prison?  Politics and British law, that’s why!

                  My wife suddenly manifested before me. I smiled at her subconsciously and I witnessed her smile back.  Her smile was authentic unlike the blue cavalry –the title coined by myself, of course.  She held up her hand and I could see she was clenching a needle.    

                  Then her expression faltered. She was not smiling anymore.  Her eyes melted; her face now instilled with sorrow.  Was she falling out of love with me? I could understand if she was, but the premise still punched me potently in the heart as I thought it.  I wanted to cry out, hold her, feel her. She was intangible to me now. Lost in the real world I was unable to communicate with.   I knew how hard it must be for her, but I was the incarcerated one, she was still free to live her life in the ‘normal world’, to be whom she wanted to be.  I lost that privilege the day of the crash.

                  She wiped a tear away from her cheek. “The doctors have still yet to come to a conclusion. But I think I have come to a conclusion.  I know what you want.”

                  There I saw it, as our gaze connected, the turning point, the breakthrough of our separate universes. She knew I could hear her, understand her, she knew that I loved her; and I now understood her intention.  I wanted to shout and tell her yes!  

                  “You’re there aren’t you, locked inside? I can see it now.  I am so sorry I didn’t realise before, but I do now and I know what you want.  It may sound silly but I am convinced you’re trying to tell me I’m right. In your eyes, I see it.”

                   I am!

                  “Just please tell me this is definitely what you want, ple-ase.” She broke down and her crying attracted attention. 

                   The two nurses appeared. I told my wife to do it, to do it before it was too late.

                   She looked deep within me. She heard. 

                   The needle slammed into me, and my torture finally turned to peace, at last.

Louise Rachel Malhi

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© 2019 by Louise Rachel Malhi

        Eruditus Publishing

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