Cold. Colder than normal, he says that’s what the saline does to you. You might still be holding his hand after your body froze and went numb from the needle, but you can’t tell. Dark red stains shout from the white and baby blues. The tears are an afterthought, but at least they’re warm.
Mom is on and off the phone. There’s a poor connection, and she can’t hear very well. The woman in white takes her voice out of the room to discuss.
Repeat 4 times in 4 months.
He has to leave, so goodbyes are said. Duty calls. Loneliness is felt but is not present. They take more of the dark red shortly after. Emptiness sits inside while weight sits on top, as if it is all the weight that has dissipated over the past few months coming back like a ghost with unfinished business.
The woman in white becomes a man as the hours tick on and shifts change. The monitor in the corner doesn’t do much good if there is no one to monitor it; the irony is unbearable as numbers tick up and down like staccato notes of toddler slamming it’s hands on plastic keys.
Repeat staccatos in intervals of several days at a time.
You have always been thin, but now you are skinny. Wasted away. You are tired, and wired. You can’t breathe correctly, and you couldn’t walk the length back to your room without heavy assistance. Every joint hurts and swells. Seeing a staircase causes panic and depersonalized visions of yourself bleeding at the bottom with no one around. Your eyes pour hot tears when he answers the phone because you thought something might have happened to him in the hour when he was on an emergency call. You can’t get enough sleep and can’t sleep enough. You are alone in this room without him or your family, although your phone buzzes with friends from far away. It doesn’t seem worth picking up.
Repeat for one year.
You wish for the Worst, because usually, people are familiar with what the Worst is and how to make it less so. People are sympathetic when you have the Worst. You pray for it with the remainder of your shriveled faith.
Repeat for one year.
“CT is negative, so is the chest X-Ray. All your blood work came back normal, no signs of a viral or bacterial infection. Try to eat a little more and sleep. But no more trips over here. Your first year away from home is always stressful.”
Repeat by 12 different doctors over the course of 8 months.
You shouldn’t bother worrying the friends now. You shouldn’t have bothered with the trip here. You shouldn’t have inconvenienced all these people and caused all this worry. This is your fault. You should have sucked it up and kept going; you’re weak. You should have stayed quiet.
Repeat to yourself whenever you are in pain.
Smiles and a bottle with little white squares of escape are given; one of these things is forced and unconvincing, which raises questions only later. The ride back to the temporary home is filled with the silence of strangers not willing to put in the energy of conversation. Not willing, or not able. The stairs to the second floor are a mountain, as is the ladder to what feels like the grave. Nothing is wrong with you. Get over it.
Repeat this feeling for one year.
It’s not the Worst, but it’s like a secret. Something new. Not many are familiar with it, and those that are are often ignorant or unbelievers. A rumor. So turn your back on the white coats with red stains and open your arms to the green growth in front of you. It can grow in you, and you can have life again.
Repeat for life.