This piece first appeared on Finish That Thought (Special challenge winner, woo hoo – this is a bit of a week). The prompt is to use the first sentence and write up to 500 words.
Someone slowly opened the window to let him drink in what he knew to be his very last sunrise.
The someone spoke. ‘Are you ready, James?’
They’d done their best. Pretending they wanted to involve him. Like he really had any say in what they did or when they did it. They’d say, ‘We’re going to insert the drip now, James. Are you ready?’ Like they would have stopped if he’d shaken his head. Even if they’d known the pain every needle caused him. He was never ready, that was the point. If he could have screamed he would have screamed them to a stop. But screaming, like sex was now an experience of the mind only.
That was another thing with them. Their optimism. Either they said crap like, ‘When you’re better…’ or ‘When you start walking…’ Or they said nothing. There were never any intermediate if this or if that. Can’t let reality intrude into his megaplegic life.
And still they kept on touching him, prodding him and poking him even though each touch radiated agony across his whole being. They’d scanned his brain and found nothing, like he was making it up. Fuckwits. Didn’t they see the pain sensors beaming lasers of hate at them? Were they so useless?
They saw nothing. He was stuck on his bed surrounded by his oh so caring torturers, planning their next assault and sharing their plans with him while all the time he had tried to think himself dead.
But you can’t, can you? You can’t think life away. You can’t reject nutrients when they’re dripped into you; you can’t stop breathing when you’re on a ventilator.
That scan had been his lowest point. Yet from the bottom of the pit it is easier to see the light at the top. This twitch of his finger, involuntary perhaps but they all talked about it as an ‘if’. If he can move his finger he can control a mouse. If he can control a mouse he can write and communicate. If this and if that.
He had fought his body, until finally his finger did his bidding. They built him an empire of electronics, slowly giving him mobility and a voice.
They wanted his story but they had forfeited their right to know. He kept his pain secret as he learnt new skills. Holding onto pain meant he wouldn’t lose focus. And today, after trial and error he was going to be allowed to medicate himself. At last he controlled his destiny.
The someone spoke again. ‘This is Ms Scott, James. She’s going to re-assess your motor function. She’s hopeful, you know, given your improvement.’
James tapped the pad. ‘Any chance of sex?’
Ms Scott smiled. ‘Not with me, but these days, I don’t see why not. It’s an auto response after all.’
If James could have frowned he would have. Maybe he would have to reassess things too. He tapped again. ‘Can we talk about pain management?’