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In that moment before something big happens, there’s that sense that someone hit pause. For a moment, you can feel and see everything around you- the electricity of his hand brushing yours, the deep chocolate of his eyes, the clear crystalline blue of the sky, the sharp point of a rock in your shoe, maybe even the lingering sound of his voice. Saying your name.
Then- BAM- someone hit fast forward. You don’t see, don’t understand, anything. You hear a loud bang. You feel a sharp pain, barely a pinprick, then your eyesight goes a little fuzzy, like you took out your contacts and was trying to see anyway, and the edges are smudged, like you’re squinting. Your legs suddenly give out, and your mind feels like someone drew a cotton blanket over it- it’s hard to think. You can’t understand why the brilliant green grass is suddenly red, and you’re having trouble breathing, too.
You wonder why your body isn’t working right anymore, and you begin to feel sleepy. He’s calling your name, shaking you, and it hurts. A lot! You turn to glare at him, and yell “Stop! That hurts!” But when your voice comes out, it’s a feeble whisper. He pulls off his white shirt, and presses it to your chest. You scream in pain, at the same time not understanding why it hurts.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he mutters, and the edges of your eye sight go gray. Maybe you just need to sleep, you decide. “Imma sleep now….” You whisper, voice trailing off. He shakes you, again, and the sharp pain of it has you crying out, and the gray fades away. There’s a sharp pounding pain, like an exaggerated pulse, just below the bottom of your rib cage. You put your hand there, and it comes away bright red, drenched in something warm.
You hear a siren, and people around you yelling frantically. Suddenly, he’s gone. You see men and women dressed in efficient white, and they lift you from the ground. You don’t understand anything. Then he’s back, holding your hand tightly. His strong grip is crushing your hand, but you can’t find the strength to pull away. He’s crying. He never cries. You try to understand why he would be crying, but your brain won’t work. He says, over and over again, “Don’t you dare go to sleep on me. Stay awake. You can do it. Please, for me.” like it was a mantra or something. You decide to try and stay awake, just to prove to him that you can.
That annoying siren is still going, and you get the sense that you’re moving really fast, although you don’t understand how. You’re stretched out on something that resembles a bed, so it’s really tempting to sleep, but you stay strong. Just as you’re about to blackout though, the people dressed in white are back. They move the thing you’re lying on, and you feel pain. That keeps you awake. You’re rushed down a hallway that’s completely white, and adults are all around, shouting and running around. You feel yourself start to black out, and you give in to the forgiving darkness.
It’s completely black, and you can see nothing. Then a white light appears. It looks so far away, but with nothing else to do, you decide to run toward it. It gets closer and closer, and you realize it it’s a tunnel. There’s something at the end, you’re sure of it, and you feel an over whelming desire to find out what. So you start running, running, and just as you feel as though you’re reaching the end, something jerks you back, like a rope tied around your torso. You feel yourself moving back, faster and faster until suddenly, like a cork out of a bottle, you see everything.
Doctors are all around you, saying something about sedatives and surgical removal. With a sharp jolt of understanding, you realize they are talking about you. You try to stay still, and they inject something into your arm. The world goes fuzzy again, but it feels safe this time, so you give in. This time, there is nothing in the blackness but noises you can’t understand.
When you finally wake up, all you see is white. White walls, white floor, white ceiling. White sheets, white table, white doctor’s robe. Doctor, you realize. That must mean you’re in a hospital. You take a deep breathe, and shriek in pain as your whole torso screams in agony at the movement. You lift the sheet, and see your entire torso wrapped in white bandage. You prepare yourself to try and sit up when a voice stops you.
“Don’t. You’ll only hurt yourself more,” he says, putting a hand on your arm. Your brain is working again, but you can’t remember anything but colors- the stark white of the walls, the emerald green of the grass, the deep aqua blue of the sky, the chocolate brown of his eyes, and the deep red of… of what? Was it your own blood?
“What-“you try to say, but can’t. You clear your throat, gasp a little at the pain, and try again. “What happened?” His eyes cloud over, and you wonder what is causing such a strong reaction in him.
“What do you remember?” he asks you, and you think.
“Something… Someone… hurt me?” you ask, realizing the truth of your words as you speak them. “Shot me? And all the red… It was…. Blood?” You try to wrap your mind around it.
“Yes. Three days ago.” He says, and you look at him. He looks like he hasn’t slept in days, and there’s something dark in his eyes.
“Th-there was so much red though….” You say, still trying to comprehend. “And what about that tunnel? Why was it so bright? What was at the end? What pulled me back?” You don’t understand anything.
He stares at you for a long time, just staring. “We didn’t go through a tunnel on the way here.”
“No, it was after the white hallways,” You say, wondering why he doesn’t remember the tunnel. You know you’ll never forget it.
He stares at you again, and you fidget uncomfortably, which only causes more pain. “When we first got here, they wheeled you into the operating room. There was a moment… where you- you were gone.” He said, his voice trailing off at the end.
“Gone?” You ask, staring at him in confusion.
“Th-there was no heartbeat. Y-You flat lined.” When your expression stays confused, he explains in rush. “You died.”
Your eyesight goes gray and fuzzy again, and you try to comprehend. The tunnel rushes back to you. You had just kept going and going, but just before you were jerked back, you remember wondering what was happening. You wondered, for a spilt second, why you were in that tunnel. And you looked back.
“Then your heartbeat just picked up again. The doctors didn’t do anything; you were just back all of a sudden. Do you remember what happened now?” he asked you. Your head is still reeling, but you manage to say three single words, three words that changed everything.
“I looked back.”