Choices

It’s funny how time dilates, how it shrinks and stretches. For me, my paltry few decades on this earth felt like a few moments while the rush of wind in my ears seemed to last forever. The piercing wail of a horn droned on and on. The people in my peripheries stood agape, mid stride, frozen for all eternity. The big metal and glass wall looming down on me slowly ate the sky and I could see the face of the driver, moving between anger and fear, perpetually stuck between them as if his scowl was slower than his shocked green eyes. He knows what’s happening, as do I. I have the idea in my head even though the thoughts are still catching up. A primal part if my mind, before a coherent thought could form, knew the situation. I felt the push but no impact, no pain but the vague expectation of pain. As I became weightless my thoughts were still forming, part of my mind knew there should be pain, even if the nerves hasn’t transmitted it yet. It all rushed in and though I knew I would hit the ground, the thoughts had barely caught up with the first part, my primal brain had said 'fuck it' and shut everything down. I felt nothing until I awoke in the hospital, even with whatever they gave me, I ached. I couldn’t move or open my eyes but I was awake…ish. I was on a firm, supportive mattress with a thin blanket over me. I could feel something in my nose and throat. My thoughts had come back, caught up in the time between then and now but I didn’t know where I was or what was happening. My primal mind screamed, like a wild animal caught in a trap, and struggled but my body wouldn’t react. I tried, so hard, through the pain and confusion, to remember. I went to bed, new sheets, slept ok. Vague memory of my alarm. These images of clean sheets, a buzzing, an alarm, kept repeating through my head. The sound of a familiar door being shut, some street I vaguely recognise. They got sharper, but when I tried to look closer or think after or between, I can’t focus. These images fade in and out of darkness and are in shadows of my mind. I am lost in this loop of blurry images and darkness. My thoughts are consumed by it, and I try to force a narrative, a linear chain of coherent thoughts. Well, a broken chain of connected but isolated thoughts. Who am I? All I know is that I am. What happened to me? I worked out from the images that I was hit by a bus. Did I die? Is this what death is? A circle of errant thoughts and confusion? Whatever it was I just wished it would end. When I could feel a light weight in my throat I knew I was more awake than the endless black I was in. It was like being in a dark room, not seeing anything but being aware of walls, somewhere in the vicinity. The walls were black too, slightly darker. In this darkness shadows formed images, like ink on a blackboard, barely visible, movement giving it away. The darkness acted like the opposite of a highlight, the images were slightly less dark than the world around them. The air itself was inky, it swirled slightly, moved like a liquid suspended in mid air. The difference in the darkness, subtle as it was, was enough contrast for images to form and melt away. It took some amount of effort to discern things from one another but I managed to after a while. I couldn’t tell you how long I spent lost in nothingness but. I was aware of some outside influences. Things like being propped up, I could feel my balance shift. Occasionally I could feel myself, pressure on my skin, warmth, cold, but only occasionally. I became aware of some noises, a steady beep, a low whir of some machine, racking up and down. I could feel my chest move softly and realised it was moving with that sound. A machine was breathing for me. I didn’t like that idea. Occasionally I would hear footsteps, snippets of conversations. They seemed so far away, if the darkness I dwelled in had a horizon, it felt just beyond it. Once I heard a person approach me. I could smell perfume and disinfectant. I felt the slightest touch on my skin. I wanted to move, to make a sound but nothing happened. “BP normal, breathing steady…” a woman’s voice spoke softly. I heard a knock nearby and footsteps leaving me. “Nurse,” began an accented male voice and the footsteps moved towards it. “How is J.D.?” Was he talking about me? Is that my name? I didn’t know, I wanted it to be my name. I never realised how much I needed a name until now. “… the same…” She began, before telling bits of my vital information, most of which I didn’t hear or understand, “sub cranial swelling… subsided…” A bunch of letters and numbers and an auxipital something or other. “Any idea who he is?” he asked. “John Doe is as John Doe identifies,” she laughed. My heart sank. I knew what that meant, from some medical drama or a crime drama. I was unknown to them, I don’t know why. In this day and age, how did I have no I.D. on me? Did I have a phone? It was probably wrecked but my wallet, did they not find my wallet? The screaming in my primal mind stopped, it was sobbing now. I was overwhelmed with sadness. I couldn’t hear or feel anymore. I was back in the ink again. Then I felt a touch on my face. “What the-? Doctor!” Hurried footsteps approached me. “He’s crying. What does that mean?” “Maybe nothing, could be an involuntary action.” “A brain thing?” “Perhaps, maybe PBA, or simply some damage. He’s still too inflamed to test.” “Is… is he awake… by any chance?” “That’s doubtful, he’s in a medically induced coma, if he’s aware of anything, we would have noticed.” “Ok, Sarah did the reaction tests earlier and got this.” “Hmm, no change. Dulled automatic responses, little dilation, barely breathing on his own.” “CTD?” “Maybe… certainly not good, pulse is fluctuating, any identifying marks, tattoos, scars?” “A few scars, mostly vaccinations or small cuts, no tattoos or anything else.” “Sad, a young man with nobody who knows he’s missing or hurt. It’s been a week, has nobody come forward?” “A few but nobody with his description, although his face is still swollen.” “We’ll have to wait to put out an image of him.” “That’s the police’s job though, isn’t it?” “Strictly speaking yes, but we help each other out, you know?” “They didn’t find his wallet or phone. Nobody knows who this kid is. No family have come forward but it’s only been a few days, for all we know he’s a student and not expected home until the weekend.” “Is it possible he was mugged before the incident?” “Could be, could be the reason he ran out in front of a bus, trying to get yer man.” “Hellova bad day, the poor bastard!” They stepped away from me, their footsteps fading out. I was left with the beeps and whirring of machines. Snippets of conversation and distant sounds occasionally penetrated the inky oblivion I exist in. I became aware of pressure on my arm and then I was gone. So deep into the dark that my mind was lost, silent, trying to receive information, forming images in the dark again. Was I dreaming? I couldn’t tell. I was trying to remember, anything at all. I couldn’t even picture myself, couldn’t remember anything but those agonizingly long moments with the bus. Everything else was like watching a dvd at high speed. I could recognise brief flashes but there was no order or sense to them. I know, from the staff, that I am in my early to mid twenties, but I think I’m a little older than that, I think. I know nothing for sure and I don’t even know if I can trust what I think I know. In between the brief visits, when I am some semblance of awake, there is a never ending monotony of distant sounds. Then I caught the scent of the sweetest perfume I’d ever smelt. It was faint but very distinctive and it was slowly growing stronger. I listened for footsteps, none rose above the background noise. I heard a click and a hinge moan. The air was full of this perfume. It got stronger like the wearer was coming closer. It filled the room. Tick tick tick went the floor, high heels from the door, approaching me. I felt a warm and soft hand on my forehead. “Oh dear, you are in a bad way.” Her voice was soft but compassionate, I felt like she was an older woman. An image burst into my head of a middle-aged, beautiful woman, well dressed, impeccably presented. I wondered if that was really her. “It’s really me, dearie.” She said softly. Could she hear me? “I can hear you. Don’t ask why, just think.” Think about what? “What happened?” What had happened? I remembered the bus and that’s about all. “How do you feel?” I didn’t know, really. Pain was an abstract concept at this point. I just felt lost. A soft 'aww' came out nearing my face and I felt a gentle kiss on my forehead. “Your brain is well, for now. Give it a moment.” First I felt a sharp pain, a blinding light, then an endless barrage of images. It hurt like hailstones hitting me from all directions. “Oh dear, you are confused. Your brain is not the problem, your mind is still hurt,” I felt her soft hand on my cheek, “Tell me, do you remember your name?” I didn’t. She spoke a name that meant nothing to me. She may as well have recited my medical chart as much as I am aware it applies to me but it had no impact. I was panicked again. She shushed me and told me her name, it made sense, like I knew her. No, not knew her but knew of her, was she famous? She laughed softly at that, not mockingly but gently. “Do you remember why you stepped out in front of a bus?” I didn’t. I thought if what the doctor and nurse said instead, as a possible answer. My wallet, I thought of that, black leather with a coin pocket. “You left it at home.” Home. A tiny apartment in the outskirts of the city. It was usually messy but I had the image of it being clean in my head. Like the day I moved in but some of my things were there. “Your phone too. And you cleaned your apartment. They had to destroy your clothes, but do you remember what you were wearing?” My interview suit, best clothes I had. Why was I wearing that? “You wanted to look well. Only you know why.” I wanted to be found looking well. The sentence slipped out of my mind and into the air before I could stop it. What did I mean by that? “I can’t tell you, I can only ask questions. Why did you want to be found looking well?” My family, what was left of them, whoever cared any more. Someone would have the sense of familial duty to take care of my body. My body? What the fuck am I thinking? Was I? Did I? “You certainly tried. Why did you try to kill yourself?” What? What? What!? I couldn’t think, I wouldn’t do that, would I? “You did.” I tried to kill myself. It makes sense. But why? What drove me to this? Then I felt my stomach drop from me. If I had been standing I would have passed out. The reasons, and the burning, crushing feelings behind them came back. “That’s a lot of emotions, my dear, but no answers.” I guess I couldn’t take it any more. The loneliness, the pain of leaving home, the pain of what happened to me, the despair at watching my life fall apart. I tried, I really did, but I was all alone in a huge city that didn’t care about me. I was too exhausted to do anything but seek to end it. “I understand, continue please.” I remember when she left me, my only friend in the world at this point. I went to work, did my usual routine but it felt hollow. I felt hollow. I was a robot, no heart and a mind too scattered and yet focused on monotonous tasks. My work suffered. I stopped taking care of myself, stopped caring at all. They let me go, of course. I could see it coming, like the bus, but could do nothing. I felt like I was now, comatose, paralysed, drowning in darkness. “And that day, what was that like?” Rent was late, bills were late. I hadn’t left the house in a couple of months. My bank account was empty and nobody I knew had responded to any of my messages. I tried ringing her but she blocked my number. I decided to do it. I cleaned my apartment and left any personal items in a cardboard box. I wrote a letter. Ripped it up, wrote another. Ripped that up and just wrote ‘I'm sorry'. I spent the last of my money on bus fair and the change of that I gave to a beggar. I thought on how to do it that day, I didn’t want to be found rotting in a bath by the landlord in a months time. I didn’t want to jump into the river and never be found. I doubt I could have managed to jump out of something tall. Maybe a highrise parking lot. In the end, I just saw my opportunity coming towards me and took it. A bus would kill me. It was selfish, I know and I am so sorry to those that had to witness it. “I can tell you, they harbour no ill will towards you.” I wanted to sit up and grab her. I wanted to ask what else she could tell me. “Not much else. Your family are being informed right now. Your aunt will come to see you as soon as she can. The question is, will you see her?” What did she mean by that? “You have a choice to make, soon. But first, tell me about you now.” I didn’t know what she wanted to know. “How do you feel now?” I didn’t really know what to say to this. I could feel the weight of my feelings but not the pain. Like a bag of rocks on my back that was barely holding together, threatening to burst and pierce my spine. I didn’t really regret the act but only because I didn’t think I had any more options. “You always have options, choices, decisions to make. It’s how you were made.” Made? Then it hit me. Are you an angel? She laughed softly. “Not quite, I’m older than them, much older. You could say that I’m the real Omega.” Death. “Yes.” But you’re… “Beautiful, kind, patient?” Yes, all of them. Not what I expected at all. I mean, when you think of death… “Oh do not get me started on all that cloak and scythe business. I’ve half a mind to sue for defamation.” I wasn’t listening really. I was fixed on what that meant for me. Did that mean I am dead? “Not quite. At least not yet. That is why you must make a choice.” What choice? “You can leave with me, right now. Leave all this,” I could see her wave her hand over my body, “behind. Or you-" Leave? Like die? Then what? Hell? “Don’t get ahead of yourself. I never judge, I simply deliver.” Deliver? Like to St. Peter? “Something like that. Listen, don’t worry about judgement just yet. Take a moment and decide if giving this another go is worth it. You can if you want.” I could? Like just wake up and go back to my life. “Not quite, you will wake up soon, once the physical injuries have healed.” My injuries. God, they must be bad. “You will have to deal with that if you choose.” I am afraid of the pain, the hardship of getting healthy, the shame of explaining what happened to the doctors, my family. “It won’t be easy. For what it’s worth, I say try. I’m coming for you anyway, eventually.” Eventually. It’s inevitable. There is no way around it. I consider what life could be. “You have time to think.” I’ve done nothing but think, for whatever good it’s done me, for the last eternity of being in this hell. “I am going nowhere, think carefully.” Even then, I don’t think I have enough time for all the questions in my head. If I go with her, will my parents be there? Will she be there? “Your parents will be. About her, this is the one that…” Yes, my old girlfriend that took her life, so long ago. Will she be there? “She will.” But once I go I’m gone, right? I could feel her nod in affirmation. I don’t know if I’m ready. I thought death would be quick and permanent, not this. “Let me show you.” Her perfume overwhelmed my senses as she leaned in to kiss me on the forehead. I saw myself waking, I saw the few remaining members of my family around me, my ex was there too. Out of pity and duty, I assume. Some vague sense of responsibility, I reckon but it was still nice to see her. In flashes and sped up images, I saw myself go through physical therapy, learning to sit up, stand and finally walk. The pain and effort would be tremendous, and for most of it, I would be alone. My life wouldn’t be the same but it would be life. I watched myself leave the hospital with my aunt and then the darkness returned. What happened? “That’s all that I know will happen, after that, it’s all your choice. Take your time, dear, I’m going nowhere. Neither was I, I thought and she laughed softly. It was quiet for a while but she was still there. I spent another age pondering my existence. My past, my present condition, my recovery and the rest of my life. On one hand, life is life. There is no alternative that I know of, and I couldn’t know if I was going to paradise, heaven or hell. “I couldn’t tell you, dear, I bring you there, I don’t decide your fate.” I could go either way, up or down. I could endure pain and suffering for months on end just to keep living. I would have to deal with life afterwards though. I didn’t look forward to explaining what had happened to my aunt. We were close years ago, but I let the relationship fizzle out. There was no obvious, logical answer. Either way was a gamble, how life would go after my lengthy recovery, where I’d go if I let her take me, I had no way of knowing. It had to be a gut response, no thinking, just feeling. I played through everything I could in my mind. There was joy and sadness, fear and hope. All of the things wrapped up in life. Finally I decided. I didn’t even had to say anything, she knew. “If you’re sure, my dear…” I was. She leaned in and kissed me on my lips and the darkness rushed in again.

The End

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Kenneth
Created by Kenneth

Originally Created: 04/10/18