A bit more from the WIP...
I’m cross-eyed staring at a spoon. There is food presented to me mounded in a golden pile and headed for my mouth. I’m told to open up and let the food in and I do, but my stomach hurts and my esophagus burns and the pulled muscles in my abdomen are going berserk.
I chew and swallow.
The nurse who feeds me is very large. She has man hands and potato-sack arms and linebacker shoulders and a stern face.
When she says “eat!”- you eat. She is perfect for the job.
My doctor says that it will take awhile for food to seem normal to me again. I find that odd. Food is food. I always ate food. Food is what I always did, my whole life, lots of times, everyday. And that’s normal, isn’t it?
What you do everyday?
Old habits die hard.
When I was a child I used to read the backs of cereal boxes while I ate. And the fronts of the boxes. And the sides of the boxes. I would even read through the list of ingredients aloud (in the chambers of my mind) while I chewed on crunchy oats and swallowed well-chewed clumps all drenched in milk. Riboflavin… Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil… Ascorbic acid…
This is how I learned not to fear the big words.
This is where I took my mind when my parents grew angrily sad and my sister’s name bounced around the walls of our apartment like an out of control Superball.
Isabella, Isabella, Isabella…
My poor, poor, Isabella.
How is it that I am here after all these years and you are not?
Why were your lights turned off and my lights left on?
My stomach feels like there are chickens fighting there. My arms and chest are heavy like I’m being sat on by Bobby and Billy and Willy and Larry.
The nurse who is feeding me is growing larger and redder by the moment.
I’ll be the dinosaur.
I’ll open wide and swallow it all in the best way that I can.
“Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!”
It’s just dirt. Dark, moist, garden dirt full of wormy stuff and strandy-rooty stuff. There are far too many of them to remember them all, but they all have a hand on me and I can’t move much more than I can move now.
“Eat dirt! Eat dirt! Eat dirt!”
They cram the dirt up in my mouth and nose. Dirt pecks hard at my open eyes. In an instant I’m filled with dirt and rage and coughing and screaming. I want to kill. I want to kill them all. I can’t see anything but flashes of light and crooked trees. I can’t stop coughing and spitting. My stomach wants to roil and it does roil and then it contracts and then it roils and I vomit up orange juice and cereal while the hands and arms and bodies of these kids from school jump back and stand away and then run off.
The coughing and spitting go on and on. Mucous pours from my nose as I stand and stagger and there is nothing I can do but to grab hold my knees and cough and spit and vomit and watch the world through blurry eyes while I stare at the pile of spit and dirt and foodstuff at my feet and hope with all my might that I will feel better soon. That it’ll all stop. That I’ll be okay and I won’t feel so bad anymore and I can get back to the things I enjoy doing because what did I ever do to deserve this?
I have a pinched face. So what? I peed my pants. I didn't mean to.
In front of all of you.
“You’re awful heroic,” the nurse is telling me. “To have come through what you’ve just been through? Being in a coma for all that time? My! My! I’ve been telling my kids about you, Walter, and they think you’re terrific.”