In a Coma- End of Part 1.

Posted by JSYL on Friday, August 29, 2008 in
* * *

To most people, shufflers make no sound at all.

But to me, even a shuffle means everything.

Shrouded in darkness, the slightest movement – the way the air changes direction when an arm passes over your head, or the way the morning nurse smells like mustard and the afternoon one’s hands feel like sandpaper when they brush past mine – these are all clues about the scene before me. They are all eagerly embraced as signs that I’m still so very much alive.

Of all my visitors, the Shuffler is the only one that still eludes me.

I can almost see the Shuffler. I’ve become quite fond of him. Or her. I can’t be too sure. But I imagine him, all the same. He comes in every day. Around the time the sunlight tickles my right cheek. The number of shuffles is always the same. A shuffle and a click indicate the opening of the door, another props it against the wall and then there’s a hesitant pause before they slowly make their way across the room to me.

He never speaks. I can barely hear him breathe.

My parents are my second most regular visitors. They always come together, each with their own private routine. Mixed in with my mother’s perfume is always the scent of a new bunch of flowers she proudly announces have arrived upon entering the room, as though they were newborns. “We have daffodils for you today, honey! Aren’t they divine? They were on sale at the gift shop and I just couldn’t resist…” and so on.

My father says nothing, but his silence tells more than my mother’s over-zealousness ever could. She scrambles to meet an imaginary quota of words that visitors get in the hour or so they spend sitting patiently by the bedside of a vegetable, a task no doubt made more difficult by my father’s failure to contribute to the task.

Every now and then he will (no doubt prompted by menacing looks my mother darts at him out the corner of her eye) clear his throat uncomfortably and throw in an awkward sentence about nothing in particular for good measure. “Saw the game tonight, son. 5-0 it was ridiculous. Never had a chance at the finals….”

She pats my hand at regular intervals, chats away and at some point in the middle of their time with me, I can always hear a stifled choke, a clearing of the throat and a deep breath that hangs in the air dramatically like a ballerina on a tightrope in the middle of the big top. Trying, like the doctors had told them, to stay positive in front of me, in case I can hear them.

I can. I can practically see them as I would if all I’d broken was a leg or an arm, only now I can feel them, I can breathe them in. Their grief hangs in the air so thick it threatens to suffocate me.

Their struggle for normalcy in a world totally foreign to them touches me, the way it never could have when I was normal myself. But they don’t know that. How can they?

I wait every day for them to discuss what I want to hear about the most.

The Shuffler leaves me no clues. He provides me with a reprieve from all the pity I get from everyone else. There is a kind of solidarity in that shuffle. A silent acknowledgment that it sucks to be me, and him too. No tears, no sighs. It's more like a single nod of respect. And a shuffle.

And he is gone again.

In a Coma
In a Coma- Prologue
In a Coma- Part 1



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