Deep Breathes

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'Kayla, it is okay' it was all I wanted to say.
I felt the pain flare through my body, not settling anywhere, just keeping my whole body in constant pain. I could feel people touching me, pressing down on different places on my body, but I could not move or ask them what was happening. My brain seemed to be dislocated from my body; I could not speak, move my lips or even open my eyes. But I could hear, I could hear people yelling, someone talking in a phone, and in the distant I could hear an ambulance. I could hear someone asking me about my name, and heard someone telling them they had found my wallet. The ambulance came closer, I could hear the faint sound of breaks stopping it abruptly. Doors opened and closed, and I heard footsteps approach. 'Move aside people' an authorial voice commanded. It was the constant wind that changed that made me aware that they had done as told. I heard someone tell what happened, but it seemed wrong. 'Madeline? Can you hear me?' the voice was far away, but yet closer than the others. It waited for me to answer, but I was unable to. I felt someone touching and working on me. 'Madeline, I am an ambulance worker, I will take you to the hospital' the voice informed me. It was an relief, soon I would be able to open my eyes and talk, soon. I felt something move my body, something cold against my back, and suddenly I had the feeling of flying. The light that had glowed through my closed eyelids and all the way to me in the dark disappeared and was replaced by a darker, more concentrated light. I heard talking around me, silent beeping from a machine, but everything drifted longer and longer away, the darkness surrounding me more and more. I heard a lightly panicked voice shout 'Madeline? Madeline! Stay with me'

I felt someone holding my hand, it was cold, and the texture of it was off.
I heard a low murmur, someone talking to themselves nearby. I listen harder, trying to understand what the voice was saying. The low beeping from a machine made it harder, but I heard her voice. It was not like I remembered it, more frustrated, but less emotional than I remembered it. 'Mali, you need to wake up' she said it in a hopeless way, again and again like a mantra, like the words had started to loose it's meaning to her. I wanted to listen to her, but I was still unable to connect my mind and body.
I had worn myself out many times, trying to mend the connection by myself. Each time I had fallen deeper, like drowning, and not been able to come up for breath for what seemed like ages. The dark deep I was in was slippery, I cringed to the little plateau I had found, where I was able to hear and understand what was going on around me, though not able to respond in any way.
'Mali, you need to wake up' Kayla repeated, I wanted so bad to throw my arms around her, hug her close and tell her everything is alright. It tortured me to not be able to do that. But it was worse when she was not with me, when the silence around me was drowning. Kayla's not nearly steady breath turned into gasping, sobbing. I could feel a harder grip around my hand; she was squeezing it.
'Mali, I need you' she choked out between sobs. 'Mali, I can not take it anymore' she stuttered, I could hear the desperation and loneliness in her voice, and it killed me.
From everything dad had told me 'it was difficult to hold on to memories these days, they slipped easily and they were hard to recall after I dozed off- I understood what she meant. I felt rage, it was unusual, and I wanted to shout at her, tell her what a stupid girl she was being, that there were too many people that loved her for her to give up. Tell her that I needed her, needed to hear her voice, no matter how much it tortured me. But no matter how hard I tried I could not make her hear what I was screaming down in my darkness. 'Lilli-Bell'' I could almost see the smile in her voice as she used my rarest nick name, the one dad used.
She was still sobbing; I could hear the ragged breaths she took to calm herself down, almost like she had heard me scream at her.
'Lilli-Bell I need you to help me through this. I don't want to, but I am afraid I am going to anyway' Kayla sounded so helpless, like a little child. Again the longing to hug her and comfort her was all I could think about.
Kayla's lips were like ice against my palm, touching only a second.
'I'll do my best Mali. I can't make any promises though, I would only disappoint you, but if you go. And don't you dare go! I will be with you again.' Kayla's voice was a blend of plea and promise. I was unsure if she promised that she would try or that she would follow me into death, or if she pleaded me to go or not'
The hold on my hand disappeared, and I hear the feet of her chair screech along the floor. Icy lips touched my forehead, and then the door closed.

'I won't do that to her!' dad's voice was strained, angry and frustrated.
'You can not expect Hadlee and Ausie to live with this anymore. She is a danger to them as much as to herself' Sophia's was hard, trying to be pervasive probably.
'Soph' you can not possible think that I would ship her away! Don't you think that would be more hurtful than helpful? To be away from Mali, from me?' Dad argued their voices hushed but still loud.
'Jack, please, just listen!' Sophia pleaded, I heard her walk 'by the sound she had shoes with high heels on- toward where dad's voice was coming from.
'It would be for her own best, to have someone she can turn to any time a day and night, where she got the right counselling and medications'' Sophia trailed of indicatively. 'But she is doing better! She is seeing counsellors almost daily, and she is probably being given more medications than she needs, but she is calm, fine!' dad was sitting next to me now, his voice strong, pleading for Sophia to give in.
'Jack' let's talk to her psychiatrists about it, see if they think it is a good idea' Sophia said, she was pacing the room frustrated.
'No' I remembered the authorial voice dad used from my childhood when I behaved badly. I hear Sophia snorted, but she did not continue the fight.
I wondered if Kayla knew dad and Sophia were fighting about her 'of course she knew they fought about her, she was being so stubborn in her dislike of Sophia, making life very difficult for our kind, loving and helpless dad-.
'What are we going to do about her?' from the tone of voice I understood they no longer were talking about Kayla. Sophia's voice was closer, and warmer.
'I do not know her situation changes almost daily. The doctors are still checking, trying to find out what keeps her from consciousness.' Dad stroked my cheek, his hand warm, comforting. I struggled to listen harder -no one told me anything-.
But they stopped speaking; probably thinking about how impossible it was to gather all of Jack's daughters together, safe and happy. In my dark I laughed, how impossible we were making life for dad, all he had wanted was for us to have a mother again 'not that we had asked for any-, and we were fighting so hard against her -or, well, Kayla was fighting against her-.

The darkness was something I never got used to, you would have thought I got used to 'waking' up to darkness, and that the eternal feeling of it would grown on me, but they did not. I kept pushing against them, but each day I lost the fight.

Kayla came by almost every day, talking to me about her day, and how much she hated the counselling sessions dad sent her to. Many of them were at the hospital, where she was an out-patient. She loved that the sessions were at the hospital where I was, she told me several times a day how much she hated having to go home without me.
'Mali, would you mind terribly much if I loaned your room?' she asked me suddenly a day. I had wondered about my room when I had been alone, wondering if anyone would dust it and put my clothes away. 'it is just like you are more present there than any other part of home. I need to smell you, and feel the light atmosphere that always is around you.' She was not as much asking me, probably knowing I was not able to answer, but more trying to convince herself that it was okay to miss me.
'I saw Luke today' she said almost shyly. I sharpened my eyes. Lucas had not been by many times, though I knew it was the fact that he hated hospitals that held him away. 'He told me to tell you that he love you, and is sorry that he has not been by more often, but that he has found a new work and have been busy with school and work' Kayla emphasised the word love, and trailed out the excuse not really believing it herself, but not wanting to hurt my feelings.
'I told him you are doing better' her voice was mystical, unreadable, and I whished I could open my eyes and see her expression, to understand what she meant by that.

'Madeline? Do you hear me?' it was not a stranger's voice, but it took me a few moments to recall the owner of it; Dr. Carmichael. He spoke slowly, probably very close to my ear. 'Yes' I thought, and tried half-heartedly to speak out loud.
'Madeline? Can you squeeze my hand? Or winkle your toes?' he asked, I felt his hand holding mine, waiting for me to squeeze. Again I tried, half heartedly, it was difficult obeying without falling deeper. He sighed, not really disappointed, but a little frustrated. 'Madeline?' he started, but then hesitated. I waited, unable to do much else, 'I am pretty sure you can hear me, and I can understand how it is frustrating for you to not being able to respond. But I want you to know that we are working very hard to make you better' his voice was earnest, and I felt no reason for not trusting him. What he was saying sounded a bit hopeless, though. It sounded like he left, but I could still hear someone breathing but the person did not say anything.
Eventually I grew tired of listening to the even breaths of my mystical visitor, and I could feel my little consciousness slipping. The voice startled me, it was rough, dark and I recognized it at once. 'Mali, I need your help' Pete said. He was standing far away from me, and his voice was low.
I could hear him coming closer. 'Mali, you are the only one Kayla listens to. I need you to talk to her' he was begging, and it pained me not to be able to help him. I would probably do anything for him, but I could not this time, no matter how much I wanted to. 'She is tortured. She is dying a little bit more every day. You should see her, she is a zombie' Pete's voice was thick with cry.
'You can probably guess what it does to Jack, seeing her like that. I think he knows she is close to a breaking point'' Pete's voice trailed of into sobs.

I had started understanding God, feeling a little bit like him. It seemed like everyone came to me, talking about their problems, and begging for me to be the answer. I mean, I could understand trying to hold a conversation with me was very one-sided, but I had grown tired of people telling me to wake up so that I could fix their problems. Had it not been for the suffocating silence when I was alone and the darkness I was trapped it, I was kind of glad that I was not there to experience it.
Bella was probably the only one that did not seemingly bothered by the one-sided conversation. She did not come too much, I wondered if she came only to get out of the house a few hours a week, and that she enjoyed the possibility to just read or knit. Bella brought music. She had made me a mix tape, long before the accident, and she had it on low volume whenever she was there. 'How are you Mali?' she usually opened with, pausing for me to answer, but when I never did she did not sound discouraged, but remained the same level of enthusiasm.
'Do you mind if I sit here and read for a bit? I think Nate's hit the terrible two's' she laughed a pearl laugh which she ended in a longing sigh. I tried to understand what it was what she was longing for. I thought it was the fact that she was 25 and already a mother of three, but she never talked about it, so I could not be sure.

'Kayla, please' Jerry was tired, probably tired of waiting outside the room all morning. 'No, I want to stay longer' it was always the same fight. Kayla was stubborn about staying with me and Jerry was supposed to have her home for dinner.
'Kayla, you'll be back soon. Can't we just go for the day?' Jerry begged, but it sounded like Kayla had already won. 'No, I want to stay longer' Kayla insisted, a flare of childish stubbornness entering her voice. Jerry resigned by dumping himself in a chair. Kayla was lying next to me on the bed; I could feel her cold skin on my entire right side. Her hands were fidgeting with my hair. She was mumbling something incoherent and too low for me to understand even with her lips so close to my ear.
Jerry was sighing irritated every few minutes, trying to interrupt Kayla enough to get her to leave. In my darkness I laughed; didn't Jerry ever learn? I was right; it took Kayla only a matter of minutes. She spun around, tossing herself out of my bed 'I felt a light jostle down into my darkness- I could hear how her footsteps flew across the floor, barely toughing by the sound of it, and I could hear her fists hitting the door.
Jerry's footsteps were heavy, but still rapid as he moved quickly to restrain Kayla. She gave in easily, collapsing in Jerry's strong arms sobbing heavily.
Jerry half carried her back to the chair. He held her in his laps while she calmed down, breathing normal with a lot of effort. He did not ask, but when her breath was somewhat normal, he rose and towered her out the door without a word.





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