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Story of a Life
“Get the paddles in here right now!”
Philip felt his heart had stop beating. He pressed against the disinfected walls of the hospital as doctors swarmed Annie’s bed, prodding, pulling, calling.
“Annalise, can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can.” A nurse placed her fingers next to Annie’s still ones, but no response came from the patient on the bed.
“Where’re the paddles? Apply twenty volts on the count of three!” The doctor ordered.
“One…two…three!” Annie’s body jerked. The doctors paused, reading the monitor.
“No pulse. Again! One…two…three!” Again, they shocked her. Again, she jolted. Again, the line on the monitor remained flat.
Philip pressed closer and closer to the wall, wishing he could melt into them and cease existing. Cease witnessing this nightmare. Annie, his Annie—she was dying…she was…
“It’s no use.” The doctor stepped away from the bed, and as if on signal, the others fell back. Pain showed on the faces of everyone in the room, but none looked so terrible as Philip, who moved away from the walls, unnoticed.
“What does this mean, doctor? Why did you stop? Why aren’t you doing something?!”
“I’m sorry, son,” the doctor took a deep breath and spoke the most horrible words in the universe: “She’s dead.”
* * * *
“No!” Philip screamed. “No!. She’s not dead—she promised…She’s not dead!”
“Perhaps not completely,” the doctor agreed. “But we cannot bring her back from where she is now. Without oxygen, her brain cells are dying. There’s nothing we can do.”
Philip wrenched himself away from the doctor and ran to Annie’s bedside.
“Anne,” he whispered urgently. “Annie. Listen to me. You can’t die. You said you wouldn’t die. You promised me—you asked me to trust you. Come back. I need you. Please…”
The doctors shook their heads sadly as they watched Philip kneeling beside the dead girl. Slowly, they filed out, leaving the boy to mourn the dead. Only Philip and one doctor remained with the girl on the bed. And Philip kept pleading with her: “Annie…listen to me…come back, Annie, please…”
* * * *
Annie was in a watery place. She felt tired and cold—oh, so cold. But it was pleasant where she was. Everything was black and fuzzy around the edges. There was no sound. She didn’t know where she was. Didn’t know who she was.
“Anne.” A voice. It sounded so familiar…Annie paused. The hypnotic pull grew stronger. She sighed and let herself go.
“Annie.” The voice again. More urgent, more insistent. Annie stopped. And listened. Sensed that this loving voice was her lifeline. But her lifeline…to what?
“Listen to me. You can’t die. You said you wouldn’t die… I need you…Please…”
I need you. With those three words, a flood of memories rushed at Annie. Philip! She had a name. She knew who was calling her. Knew that she had to go—could not let the blackness claim her—yet. Someone needed her. Someone out there—and she had to respond. The hypnotic pull raged, it threatened, but Annie fought with every last ounce of strength she had. The voice helped, repeating over and over again, “Annie…listen to me…come back, Annie, please…” Annie, Annie, Annalise—that was her name!. She knew who she was—where she was—what she had to do. And with that knowledge, Annie broke free.
A nurse had wandered back to bring the doctor Annie’s death certificate. The doctor stood quietly behind Philip, his heart aching for the grieving boy, and the girl—so young, so beautiful, so tragic. A sudden gasp arrested his attention.
“Doctor!” The nurse’s face paled, her fingers slackened, letting the pen and paper fall to the floor.
“What is it?”
The nurse pointed wordlessly at the heart monitor. The screen no longer showed a flat line, but faint dips and mountains.
“My God!” The doctor started. Even Philip paused, and looked up. “Call someone, quick!”
The nurse hurried off as the doctor turned to Philip. “Young man, if you will step aside, just for a moment…” the doctor’s voice was disbelieving. “My God,” he murmured again. “It’s a miracle!”
On the bed, Philip pressed Annie’s hand to his heart as she took a faint, shuddering breath. Her eyes opened and she seemed confused. They gradually focused on Phillip’s face, and she smiled.
“I’m here, Annie.”
“You called me.”
Philip brought her hand up to his face, lightly brushing her knuckles with his lips. “And you came back.”