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The Comatose State
Leon. You learn a lot when people think you aren’t listening.
The soft, familiar murmur of his mother’s voice could be heard nearby. It was not difficult to recognize her distinct vocalizations ringing through the poorly sound proofed hospital wall. Willow Pearson was constantly badgering the nurses checking in on her son.
A new voice pushed through the insulation, greeting his mother.
“Yes, ma’am. It’s lovely meeting you. I’m a volunteer here at the Regional Times.” Willow interjected here with what he assumed were questions, because after a pause the new voice returned, female.
“Well, mostly for those in his conditions, but not always... Ever respond? In my experiences, no, but it’s not about their response as much as it is the company I provide.”
Liberal, tolerating laughter followed the muffled response. His mother’s tones soon commandeered the conversation, lamenting his condition, more than likely. Greeting soon ended, and he heard the sharp spring of the door locking into place. He sensed someone approaching his bedside. Moments like these he wished he could open his eyes; he wanted to see. More than anything he wanted to indicate his awareness.
Eve. Never had anyone ever felt so elusive.
As she entered the room she turned to face the closing door, clasping the handle and letting it deliberately click shut, announcing her presence. It was an unnecessary gesture, but still one she used with all patients she visited. If she were going to do what she felt right, by treating him as though she were certain of his awareness, it would be best to start by not ambushing him.
Holding her breath, she collected her thoughts. Mrs. Pearson had told her plenty about Leon, not sparing the details of his accident; those the articles had avoided. It had been a couple weeks, but the news stations still hadn’t grown wary of the tragedy either.
The overview in the paper was that he had been driving his 6 year-old sister to kindergarten the last day before she got out for summer. The majority of high schools in their area of Maryland had been released the week before, including Leon's senior class, and graduation parties weren’t an uncommon celebration before leaving for college. A couple of junior boys and their girlfriends had been leaving a party around 8 in the morning, not old enough quite yet to be free from parental restraints. In a truck, the teens were speeding to get home before getting caught, and Leon and his sister were just turning left. The high school teens blew through the red light, colliding with the front driver’s side of the siblings’ vehicle. Leon’s sister made it through with a broken arm, concussion, and a few scrapes thanks to the fact that she had been riding on the passenger side of the back seat. Leon wasn’t as fortunate, and neither were the teens, all of whom died.
As she exhaled, a sorrowful grasp took hold of her throat as she examined the young man. She wasn’t quite sure whether she could choke out the words just yet. Usually it came so effortlessly, talking to the patients that some nurses decided not to waste their breath on. Evelynne had always believed those in comas could hear all that was around them, and treated them with such courtesy. Still, facing him had rattled her.
There he was, in all his youth, completely despondent. It wasn’t new to her but even then she felt like averting her gaze, because she knew, had she seen him prior to his state now, he’d be the guy she couldn’t meet eyes with. He was dark haired, lean, and though his color surely wasn’t as it had been 2 weeks before, quite handsome. Before she could make things awkward for herself, she began their relationship, just like all the others.
“My name is Evelynne Alexander, and I know you can hear me.”
She looked up at the monitors, always hopeful, looking for evidence that never appeared.
Leon. Things would never be the same.
Leon’s thoughts raced and his throat ached, much like it felt when holding back tears. He wanted to speak; he thought the words so hard he was sure his veins were spelling it out across his arms. But there he was, still stuck inside his own mind, still listening and waiting until someone knew.
Eve. Anxiety wasn't a common issue.
She quickly retraced her steps, realizing how 007 she came across.
“I mean, obviously I know you can hear me. Why else would I be speaking to you? Oh gosh, I sound nutters.” A nervous pause stopped her. What is wrong with me? She thought. Why am I acting like this, I need to get to the point.
“Anyways, I guess I should explain myself.” Another anxious pause filled the air, clouding her train of thought. Gathering her words she continued, trying to sound bright.
“I volunteer at different hospitals in Maryland, visiting a certain coma patient for a month or two at a time, just talking. I don’t do it to get volunteer hours, but simply because I know most of you must hear. I can imagine the torture it is being locked up inside your mind, trying to let everyone know you’re awake and you want to…respond…” She sighed, and tried to organize herself. Tell him how you know. Help him understand. She thought.
“My mother, she was in a coma for 3 months. It’s not as long as it could have been, but that time still truly affected her. Everything changed. She told me life becomes a world where you’re alone in a room full of people, and half of them are the ones you’re closest to. She said that was the hardest part of it all, having us so close but unable to reach us,” She paused, “I would go and talk to her whenever I could after school. I was in the 8th grade. She said my talking with her helped her survive. It helped her keep hope.” Catching her breath, Eve walked closer to Leon’s bedside, realizing she’d been standing the entire time. There was a chair on the bedside farthest from the door where she stood, so she lowered herself into it.
“I do this because I hope that somewhere along the line, I’m helping someone survive. I can’t stand the thought of anyone being alone like that. God will get you through many things, but I don’t know if he will replace the contentment a human connection will- at least not for everyone.” She lifted her hands to the edge of the bed, and then slid them forward to gently clasp his hand. “If I can, I will help you survive, Leon Pearson.”