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A few weeks ago, there was a terrible accident. A truck hit a teenage girl as she was coming out of the local courthouse. The driver of the truck, a boy about her age, panicked and drove into a building. Needless to say, they both ended up in hospitals. Some say that with traumatic experiences, the brain has a choice: either suppress the memory, or unconsciously replay it, over and over…
The walls of the coma ward were a sleepy lavender color, projecting an aura of peace and comfort. People talked in hushed voices. Muted blips monitored the heartbeats of gently snoring patients. A short, puffy sort of man and a smoking woman who could have been a supermodel stood behind the frosted glass window of an allegedly soundproof door, glaring at the elegant figure standing beside them. “ Well, put her back to sleep!” the man shouted.
“Your daughter is not an animal, sir,” the prim woman snarled back.
“I beg to differ, Ms. Dume. Our stepdaughter is certainly mentally defective.” This voice was velvet rubbed the wrong way. The girl in question sat up, listening to the closest this trio could ever come to a conversation. When they saw that she was listening, they burst through the (obviously not soundproof) door.
“Hello there, Cinder,” a slender woman in a pinkish suit, presumably Ms. Dume, said in a condescending way. The girl looked up, brushing her straight, dust-brown hair out of startlingly amber eyes.
“Good day. Where is the hot African-American boy with the blue eyes?”
“You asked to see me about your daughter?” Therapists. They should stretch out their time; they’ll get paid more. It never occurred to Geoffrey Sleem that this particular therapist might not enjoy his company. He was a loving man; who could deny this? He had, after all, taken in that whiny brat, Cindy, or whatever. The phrase ‘serious damage’ brought him back to the small couch where he sat sandwiched between his beloved wife and Sleeping Beauty.
“Eh, what’s that?”
“I said ‘ Your daughter has retained serious damage to her right cerebral hemisphere, leaving the left to compensate.’”
“So no cost to me whatsoever?” Mr. Sleem was actually smart enough to back away, after the expression that appeared on the therapist’s face.
“Cinder, you seem to be the most sensible one in the family, so I’ll explain this to you. After the accident, which I am told involved the highly respected Charybdis Trucking Company, the more logical half of your brain took over completely. Whoever this boy is, your brain is sending you messages that you need him, like food or water. He is a drug to you!” Cinder wasn’t listening. Charybdis. Charybdis. Charybdis.
Cinder thanked and paid the driver of the taxi. She opened the double doors of the Charybdis Trucking Company. Soon she was face-to-comb-over with a short, red-faced man. Try as she might to convince Mr. Charybdis that she was not a lawyer, she was sent away with a scrap of paper that said something like ‘sat, normal’s homl fer te cmtoes’.
“Hello again, Cinder. Do you have an appointment?” Cinder nodded. A lie. “Well, Cinder, I’ve figured out where that boy is.”
“Really? Where?” It was the first time any emotion had seeped into Cinder’s voice. The therapist tapped her gently on the forehead. As if the touch had clicked something into place, Cinder knew. “St. Norma’s Home for the Comatose! I was sure that boy existed.” She ran from the room, across the street, and into the Home. “I need to see…”
“I don’t know his name, but I do know what he looks like.” She described the mysterious boy to the receptionist. She was directed to room 204. Her hands trembled as she opened the door. A figure lay asleep on a small gurney. He had the same chocolate skin and thick, braided hair. A clipboard sat on the desk in the corner. Cinder crossed to it and read ‘Pilot Weeverbyrd’. A thought occurred to her. She cracked open Pilot’s eyelid and found a single electric blue eye staring at her. Suddenly, the door creaked open. The young doctor who has escorted her looked at her for a moment and then said,
“Are you a friend of his?” Cinder nodded. That was the simplest answer. “I am very sorry to tell you this… your friend is going to die.”