“Switch it off now”, she demanded.
“What! It’s keeping him alive!” exclaimed nurse Chloe, “anyway, That’s his family’s choice.”
“He has no family!”
It was dark and quiet. I was completely shrouded by thick black sticky clouds. The air was thick, heavy, toxic and barely breathable, with a putrid smell. I was paralyzed. I had a pain all over me, with a massive headache and nausea. I thought being dead would be better than this.
Then, the black clouds started to disperse, and the silence gave way to unintelligible murmurs. I could make out a pin prick of light, which grew as the clouds defused, into a bright mass blur of colors. Gradually, as the picture cleared, I could make out a blurry face of a woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. ‘Welcome’ came the echoey female voice. “Welcome.” Am I now in heaven?
The paralysis started to wear off. With great effort I rubbed my eyes, and saw a nurse. “Welcome back to the land of the living”, she said with a smile. “How do you feel?”
“I feel sick, have a cracking headache and have pain all over my body.”
“You will do”, said the nurse, “You’ve been in a car accident.”
I tried to swipe the ventilation tubes off, not noticing the drip feed in my arm.
“Keep it on”, said the nurse, “You need the oxygen. I’ll get the doctor.”
It started coming back to me. Yes. It was a warm summer’s day, making me feel vibrant and confident. Tonight’s the night. I was going to take my girlfriend, Fiona, to an exclusive restaurant, and then, when the time is right, propose. We've talked about marriage before, but I’ve never actually asked her, or gone down on bended knee.
Nearly home, I pulled up at traffic lights, when I saw a large truck approach from the other side, seemed unsteady, swerving, and wasn’t slowing down. ‘Brrrrr' ‘Brrrrr', he ardently honking his horn. Then everything was in slow motion, as the truck came closer and closer, ‘Brrrrrr’. Then nothing.
“You’re very lucky”, said the balding, man in a white coat, with round glasses and a stethoscope.
“I don’t feel it.”
“The police pulled you out the wreckage, believing you to be dead”, explained the doctor, “and you have been in a coma for eleven months.”
“What!” I said in disbelief. How could it be eleven months. It does seem that long ago. Time must have stood still whilst in the coma, or time moved faster outside.
The doctor turned to the nurse and said, “I’ll prescribe some medication for the pain”, he paused to adjust his spectacles, “Oh, and Chloe, he can now have food and drink.”
The nurse nodded as the doctor left.
Looking at the media machine next to the bed, I really should phone Fiona to let her know I’m awake. My heart beat hard as I could hear the phone ring tone, it had been nearly a year since I heard her voice. Then she answered.
“Yes, whose calling?”
“Matt”. I expected some sound of surprise, or elation. I didn’t expect her to put her hand over the phone. I couldn’t make out her muffled words. She appeared to be talking to a man.
“Erm. Matt. I thought you were dead, and you weren’t there for me.”
“I’m back now.”
“You have no money.”
“What about the twenty thousand pounds I saved for our dream house?”
“Spent. Brett needed it for his business.”
“Who, the f**k is Brett?”
“Don’t ring again”, she screeched as she ended the call.
“Bitch”, muttered the nurse, who was measuring my blood pressure.
“Did she visit me at all?”
Nurse Chloe replied, “Once, about a week after your accident”, she paused, “to demand that the machine was turned off.”
I lay without expression, mortified.
Nurse Chloe continued with, “Your sister, Alison, demanded it stayed on.”
Alison was my only remaining relative. We used to very close, until she was offered a job in Australia. She didn’t want to go, but this was her dream job, so I persuaded her. We had been in weekly contact since, until my accident.
“Does Alison ring often?”
Chloe smiled and said, “All the time, and she’s been twice.”
This was a lot for me to take in. after all we’ve been through, how could Fiona do this. She was the woman I loved and wanted to marry. I still missed her. This went round and round in my mind for hours. Maybe she’ll realize she made a mistake; and come back to me.
“Hey! Why the sad face?” asked a male approaching nurse, “My name is Nurse Leon”.
I wasn’t wanting to talk about it, but he seemed friendly. So, I told him about my accident, my coma and how my girlfriend ran off with another man, and left me penniless. He seemed sympathetic.
“I had a similar experience”, he said, “My boyfriend decided he was straight and kicked me out of the house, to move his girlfriend in.”
Nurse Leon smiled and continued with, “If that hadn’t happened, I would never had met the love of my life. We married six months ago.”
“Thanks. What I’m saying is, it’s for the best.”
* * * * *
The following day dragged. Why is boredom so tiring? Maybe I’m still concussed. Is this how this month is going to be bored rigid, and distraught at Fiona’s betrayal. The betrayal hurt, a pain the painkillers couldn’t deal with. Maybe I see it from her point of view. Boyfriends ill for a week, want him dead, grab his money, get a new boyfriend. Got the picture. Unless, Brett was on the picture before, which would explain a lot.
The question is do I want her back? I don’t know. Life no longer had any meaning.
Eventually, it was 7pm, visiting time.
A well-dressed man, in his sixties, wearing a suit and tie, approached my bed. “How are you feeling, Matt?
“I still feel concuss and nauseous”
“You will do”, said Mr Carlson. “Have they said how long you’re going to be in?”
“We’re looking forward to seeing you back at work.” Responded my boss, “and don’t worry, you’re still on Company Sick Pay.”
I’m sure Fiona will be delighted at that, and will have spent it already.
* * * * *
I started to feel less bored. Maybe because of the treatment, or it could be an effect of the medication. Nurse Chloe, very kindly bought in some magazines, I guess that she felt sorry for me; or I had made it obvious. The highlight of the day was visiting time. It was nice that colleagues and friends, bothered to visit. Unlike Fiona.
When my best friend came, we avoided the subject like the plague. He knew I didn’t want to talk about her. They say ‘it’s good to talk about it’. I beg to differ. I’m still locked in my emotions.
We talked about everything and anything. Will Wombledon FC win the cup. Not likely.
“Could you keep your voices down?” Calmly asked Nurse Chloe, “Visiting time is over.”
“Do you want me to go,” Woody quietly asked.
“Oh, No”, She replied as she went to attend to another patient.
“She's alright your nurse", remarked Woody.
“Very Sexy", continued Woody. It was well known that he liked women in nurse’s uniforms. Having said that, he was right. “I’d better go,” he said.
I casually looked at my phone and saw I had a text, from Fiona. Talking to Woody cheered me up; and now thrown back into distraught confusion. Maybe she’s had a rethink.
Where did it all go wrong. I remember our first date, I thought I was the luckiest man alive. I remember the good times together, and we rarely argued. So, what happened?
I gingerly picked up the phone, quietly I opened the text. All she wanted to know was where to send my personal belongings. She wanted to keep the furniture (which I paid for). The words were written with malice.
I’m not honoring it with an answer.
* * * * *
The following morning, I felt different. I felt free. Yesterday’s text helped me realize what kind of person she was. The morning flowed much easier. After breakfast, nurse Leon announced that I had a visitor.
I looked up and saw a woman in her late thirties, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. She wore a loose ‘T' shirt, and shapely jeans. I’ve not seen nurse Chloe with her hair down, in normal clothes.
“Morning Matt", she said smiling
I felt a little nervous. “I’ve not seen you in normal clothes.”
“I do have a life outside here, or did have", she said. “About 5 years ago, I had a husband. He ran off with a floozy, after raiding the bank account. Haven’t seen him since.”
I nodded. “So, you were homeless, and penniless?” Maybe I exaggerated there. Woody would surely put me up.
“You’ll be OK,” she reassured. “Trust me.”
She told me that she would like to go for a walk in the gardens, with me, but it was raining. I would have liked that. Being in hospital I don’t get to notice the weather outside. Rain or no rain, or sleet I still wanted to go for a walk with her.
The conversation from there avoided any mention of Fiona or Warren, Chloe’s ex. We talked about family, and hobbies. She likes going for long walks, whereas I miss long walks, Fiona wasn’t too keen on walks. Then we talked about our dreams and desires.
She gave me a quick kiss, before she left. That’s not normal service from a nurse.
* * * * *
My final week in hospital was filled with excitement. Freedom at last.
My sister came to visit. Mainly to discuss what has been happening over the last year and discuss my situation.
“Whilst you’ve been in a coma, I’ve had ‘Power of Attorney”, she declared. “First thing I did was get your sick pay diverted.”
“So, I have money.”
“I wasn’t going to let Fiona and Ape-man have it! You’ve got £11 000 sick pay plus £20 000 compensation.”
“I’m still homeless”
“I’ve been looking around. There’re some nice flats round here. I’ll arrange one if you want”
I saw nurse Chloe come in, starting her evening shift. I gave her a good smile, to show everything is going to be OK. She smiled back. Can you communicate with just smiles?
“Of course, there is the other option”, continued Alison, “You can come back to Australia and stay with me, where I’m sure I can get you a job.”
“You’re finally free on Thursday”, said Alison, “I’ll collect you, we’ll go to a hotel, and decide then!”
I can’t wait to get out of here. In the same room for over a year.
“Must dash”, she said. Her gave me a quick peck, “I’ll collect you on Thursday”
After she left nurse Chloe came over, looking forlorn. “I don’t want you to go to Australia.”