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“Can you see?” I could by the faint voice of my mother asking me something.
“No mom.” I replied, moving my hands over my face to touch my eye sockets. They were still there, and so were my eyes. Why could I not open them? My chest felt heavy, achy.
“Come here, Joy.” My mother reached for my arm. Her touch was cold and clammy. I felt her gently pull me into sitting position, then lead me out of the bed I had been in.
“Where are we going?” I asked suspiciously, not knowing where I even was in the first place. We started moving one step at a time, one leg after the other. I began to walk; it felt as if we were walking down a narrow corridor, which freaked me out a little.
“We are going to the cafeteria to get some lunch.” The cafeteria? We have a cafeteria? Where the hell was I? Oh no… I was in a hospital! I felt my eyes water up as I gripped my mother’s arm tightly. All I could see was different aspects of light and different shades of gray. I wanted to cry. I started slumping into my mother’s arms; she was practically dragging me down the hallway.
“I’m not all that hungry, Mom.” I whispered softly.
“Can we please go back to my-“
“You need to eat something Joy. You’ve been asleep for three days now.” I turned to her as if I could see her. “What? Three days…?”
“Yes hun, three days.” We kept walking; I felt the coolness of the walls on my fingertips as I ran them across the wall, giving me a cool rush of chills as I leaned on my Mother. My body felt heavy against hers, as if she was dragging me, dead across the floor. I could see a change in the lighting of the room, the temperature rose; it felt warmer, and the smell of food cooking made my stomach rumble. My mother led me to what felt like a booth. I sat down.
“What would you like to eat?” my mother asked. Her face was close enough to feel her breath on my cheek.
“I don’t know Mom. Get me… whatever.” I sighed and felt the coolness of the booth against me as my body sunk into it.
“Well alright, no need for the attitude Joy.” Her breath left my cheek, as did her hand from my shoulder. At this point, I really began to hate my name… Joy? Why in the world did my mother name me Joy? When I was born, my umbilical chord was wrapped around my neck and almost choked me to death. From the moment of birth, I was bound for disappointment and discouragement.
I sat alone for a good amount of time before my mother came back and brought me what smelled like to be chicken and mashed potatoes.
“Hey.” A deep male voice called out. Startled, I moved my head up trying to figure out which direction the voice had come from.
“I’m Tom.” The voice spoke again, this time closer to me and to my right.
“Uhh, hi Tom…” I said hesitantly, not knowing if this was some creep.
“May I sit down?” he asked.
“Um, I’d rather you-“ his body was next to mine before I could finish my sentence. The hair on my skin stood up. I hated when people just sat down next to me, touched me, or even walked too close to me without me knowing who they were. The invasion of personal space had pissed me off. And, whoever this was not only sat down next to me, but also interrupted me. I didn’t like him already.
“So how are you?” the stranger asked as if we had been best friends since who knows when.
“Who the hell are you? Can’t you see that I’m temporarily blind?” I sat straight up and folded my arms across my chest.
“No… I can’t see that you’re blind, I can’t see either…” his voice trailed off. Well, that was just great, I made a real blind person feel like s***. I felt like s***.
“Oh… I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“It’s okay, I get it all the time living in a hospital and all.”
“You live in this hospital?” I asked curiously, wondering how long he’d been in this boring cold place.
“Yeah, for about four years now. I’m not allowed outside… the sun burns my eye lids because my skin is too thin and they can’t handle the heat.” Wow… and I thought my life was getting bad; this guy’s was really dreadful. I couldn’t even imagine not being able to step outside, breathe in the fresh air and feel the warmth from the sun on my face. The thought of it was just depressing.
“Oh, I’m sorry…”
I turned my face to the right as if looking into his eyes. “I honestly don’t know what to say to that.”
“That’s okay, I didn’t really expect you to say anything in return.” He chuckled to himself. “Hey, I never got your name.”
“My name?” I asked cautiously.
“Yes, knowing your name would be lovely.” I considered this, not necessarily wanting a total stranger knowing my name. But then again, I did know his.
“My name’s Annabel, ” I said quickly, “and you’re Tom. Now that we’ve got that settled, how did you know I was sitting here?”
“Annabel… what a pretty name.”
“Thanks, but that doesn’t answer my question.”
“I’ll see ya round Annabel.” He said. The way he said my name made me wonder if he had a smirk across his face as he left me sitting alone at the empty cold booth. I know I didn’t even know this “Tom” guy, but for some reason… I missed him.