Today, the outside I see appears dreary. Plain and simple. Misty with an occasional blast of drizzle. I pretend I’m elsewhere.
I want to change everything but can’t. My thoughts remain scrambled. Worse than the weather. I peer into the haze and think through the fog. I hear the rhythmic drip from a nearby window, reminding me, it needs to be fixed.
Unable to recall anything that makes sense, I conjure scattered events from the day before and then even fewer from three days after. Images masquerading as memories randomly dance before my eyes.
I pay little attention to them as they come and go. Instead, I imagine peach blossoms in spring. Smell their sweet scent as it fills the air. Babcocks with their white juicy fruit.
Somehow, I’m aware it’s a Sunday in mid-January.
Elizabeth stands there totally determined. In the figurative sense, she yanks me back to reality.
With the holidays now long past, she’s tired of seeing those three banker boxes occupying floor space. All full. Eye sores. She insists I gather up the remaining Christmas decorations and store them for another year.
Elizabeth wants the boxes put away.
Out of sight. Now. Yes, understandably. They belong in the loft over the garage. Fifteen feet up. Only accessible with a ladder. A solid blanket of concrete beneath one’s feet.
Climbing rung over rung, box in hand – the last thing I want. My to-do list, already full, has me overwhelmed. I’m too woozy. Too unstable.
I must have told her so. Or did I? Can’t remember ever going out there to the garage. Not really. Not consciously.
My mind drifts. Back in a bed. But not mine. Not a familiar one. The back cranked up. My gut bowing forward, bent at a right angle.
I find myself rudely propped into place, facing three off-white walls. The center one melts vertically in half. The upper portion rearranges itself. It snaps into a series of fixed-glass frames. A row of windows settles in.
Within seconds the entire height of the wall melts away. A curtain abruptly replaces it: blue fabric hanging from chrome hooks.
Evenly spaced on a U-shaped chrome rod. It subtly blocks the air above the foot of the bed.
Clipboards fill with auto text. Cursive fonts. Nurses in white uniforms and thick rubber soles scurry past. Now stopping in front of the counter that defines their station.
I watch the counter grow fuzzy and fade into the distance.
“Something nasty was in those pills. Shouldn’t have taken any. Shouldn’t have let her give them to me. My fault. Careless trusting a stranger. I just didn’t realize. Didn’t know.
“Keep those opioids away. Please, I prefer the pain! It’s a warning. A direction how to sit, to stand or move.”
“Aaah! To change positions is hell… Everything hurts everywhere… Can’t believe how much!
“What’s the time? No, first, tell me the day. Clue me in… Where am I? No joke! Have no fuckin’ idea. Names have become completely elusive.”
Not ideas. Not analytics. Not solutions.
“My keys. Have to find my key case. I can’t leave without it.” I search but it’s not on the floor beneath the bed.
The room has no closet. No bathroom. No sink.
Wait! The nurse’s station has moved again. I float back on top and under the blanket without ever moving.
“How did I drive? Where’s the car? I have to find it if I’m going to get home.”
from a daze
My eyes are shut tight. Both lids sealed. Glued shut. Am I in a daze! “What happened?” I envision peach blossoms blooming in spring until…
“My chest… My damn chest! It’s caving in. A ton of bricks just landed on top. Can feel ‘em. My ribcage’s going to collapse. In a dozen places. Already has! My back too.
“Just to shift slightly positions is a killer. No, can’t it stop! That pain is excruciating! You can’t imagine. No way! It’s the worst. Ever!”
A piercing sound shatters the silence in our kitchen. My wife Elizabeth focuses. She stops unloading the dishwasher. Rattled. Something metal crashes. It lands on the garage floor. A horrific thud follows a second later.
A checkered dish towel slips from Elizabeth’s outstretched fingers. She freezes. Totally benumbed. She doesn’t want to look. Afraid what she might see. She already imagines the worst.
“Mom!” screams Caroline, our daughter, racing halfway to the garage. “Where’s dad? …Rob, you there? Tell me you’re ok!”
No response. Inside, I lay motionless. Face down on the gray concrete. A toppled ladder a foot or two away. My head surrounded by a pool of fresh blood. Still oozing out. I lay twisted. In a somewhat unnatural way.
Wendy, entering a second behind Caroline, freezes. She stands there in silent hysteria imagining the worst. “Rob, wake up! You can’t be! No, no, you just can’t. Please!”
Caroline grabs her mother by the shoulders. Eases her to the side and bends over my body. Silence for an elongated second. Then Caroline abruptly exhales. She realizes I’m still breathing and have a pulse. It’s beating. Yes, I’m alive. But don’t know it.
Caroline realizes we need help. Fast! She doesn’t waste a second.
But now I can’t remember anything. How did it happen? Time, definitely, has lapsed. The question: how much?
“Feels as if I’ve been beaten up and drugged.”
“Just lie still and rest,” reassures a familiar voice. A very familiar one. Elizabeth, one part calm. One part terrified. “Don’t move, my love. Don’t even try. You’re hurt. Hurt bad”
“Sorry… I need to get up. I have to!”
“Why, can’t you wait?”
“Have to take a leak. Right now! Please help me stand! Just get me on my feet. Please! Once I’m up, I’ll be okay.”
“O-w-w-w!!!” No, I wasn’t. Almost toppled over. Luckily, Elizabeth is here. She catches me at the last moment and tries her best to steady me.
My eyes open a hair. I can see her. But blurred. Fuzzy. Out of focus.
I stagger. Holding onto the wall. Walking hand over hand. Then suddenly I’m there. Leaning into the doorway.
I flip up the toilet seat, grab a flaccid part of me then blindly pee without missing a beat. But no pleasure. My chest knows only pain. I want to scream. As loud as I can. Instead, I just slump to the floor.
I can hear sirens. See flashing lights. My eyelids are being lifted. A flashlight shines first on them. Then beams freely again.
“Where am I? What’s happening?”
I feel a cold washcloth against my forehead. It’s wrung out and applied again. Oh, so soothing. Yes. Her fingers gently shove my hair back. Out of my eyes.
Wait! What’s happening? I’m so freezing cold. Freezing cold and drenched in sweat.
I feel our dog. Snowflake licks my hand. A nervous kind of a lick. She’s saying… I’m here. Don’t slip away. Please. We all need you.
“Yes, I need all of you. I do! No, I’m not going anywhere. Not going to slip away. Can’t! Won’t let it happen. O-w-w-w! Never felt anything like this. Never, felt so much pain.”
“You’ve eight ribs with compound-fractures and a severe concussion!” Elizabeth advises. “You’re so lucky to just be here.”
“Yeh, eight’s my lucky number.”
“Rob, you owe me one. Do you hear me?”
“I owe our daughter and our dog too.”
“You mean Caroline and Snowflake. Have you forgotten their names?”
“Just blanked out…”
“But while you’re at it… mustn’t forget our delicious peaches.”
“Absolutely,” I confirm with a hint of a smile. “Can’t wait for them to blossom…”
“Yes, as soon as later, this spring.”
But she doubts I even know the current season.
About the Article
A introspective view of a horrible accident, trying to reconstruct and piece the parts together.