By Paco Garcia Jaen
Blip… Blip… Blip…
He heard the machine blipping, counting the beatings of his heart and wondering how much longer he would have to listen to the intermittent sensory assault that was keeping him awake. He had got used to the smell by now. He’d been there long enough to numb the smell of fluids and secretions hidden by the smell of disinfectant and perfume.
Blip… Blip… Blip…
“Tell me, how are you feeling?” said a voice too rushed to be as comforting as it was trying to be, a cold hand grabbed his arm to take the blood pressure.
“I don’t feel anything” he said, trying to at least force an expression of worry. He didn’t feel it was working. Part of him was hoping the numbness would take away the memories and another part was hoping the blip would just stop. Stop and go away and take everything with it.
“That’s normal” the voice returned “when you go through this process things feel a bit strange for a while. But it will all come back normal soon”
“But I don’t feel anything” he lied “I feel like I am empty and there is nothing beating inside me”.
“But there is” said the voice again “listen”.
Blip… Blip… Blip…
“Your blood pressure is low. We need to sort that one. I will be right back” said the voice.
“Take your time” he said, his head already turned towards the window where the cerulean sky felt like the dullest shade of grey he had ever seen.
The thought assaulted him viciously, without warning or invitation. Now they will all want to come and see me!
He felt anxiety holding his chest and squeezing a bit of tranquillity and peace off his chest. And it was holding tight. His lungs felt it and he had to force himself to take some air.
Blip… Blip… Blip…Blip… Blip…Blip… Blip…
There wasn’t enough space inside him for air and tears, though, and they took turns to come in and out in uncontrollable bursts of whatever it was he was meant to be feeling. He brought his hand to cover his eyes just to take them off as soon as his eyelids closed and the images came rushing back into a reality he didn’t want to acknowledge.
Faces, places, words, flavours, conversations… three weeks of holding back and concentrating on the present totally ruined. He had to relive it. He had to see it all again in a flash that went straight through his already damaged heart and twisted like a rusty knife, tearing through the few traces of hope he was still secretly holding.
Blip..Blip..Blip..Blip.. Blip.. Blip.. Blip.. Blip.. Blip.. Blip.. Blip.. Blip..
And the images, in the cruellest fashion didn’t do anything else than to feed that hope and that hope made him want to check his phone and his phone didn’t say anything and the hope was again torn apart and his heart kept breaking and then fed again that if word came out and everyone understood everything would be OK and he knew that wouldn’t happen but he kept holding on because not holding on only torn his heart more and more and he was scared he wouldn’t have any heart left.
And he needed it to end. He wanted it all to stop. To stop clinging to him like a disease that was rotting him and making him feel worthless and dirty.
He wanted to end.
Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip…
The cerulean greyness came back as his lungs and his tears reconciled. Or until he run out of tears. He didn’t know.
Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip…
The door opened gently. The hope once again decided to come back uninvited and set itself heavy on his chest as the door opened.
“I’ve got something for your blood pressure” said the not-terribly-reassuring voice. A glass of water and a little cup with some pills were offered.
“What is wrong with me?” he asked “Why is this happening?”
“We still need to do some tests. We have taken blood samples and done a cardiogram” said the voice with a finger pointing at his chest. Two patches of skin had appeared where the hair had been shaved to fit the electrodes “we haven’t found anything wrong yet”.
“It’s broken” he said holding his chest in an attempt to take out whatever it was piercing it from front to back. It didn’t work.
Blip… Blip… Blip… Blip…
“I can assure you there is nothing broken” replied the voice “there is no internal haemorrhage and the X-ray doesn’t show anything out of the ordinary. Your heart is all in one piece”. Not a helpful answer. Maybe it wasn’t the right person to understand the questions.
“Do you have friends? Family?” the voice said again “Anyone you’d like us to call?”
“I thought I did” he said.
“Anyone you’d like to see?”
And the images came back again. And with the images the anxiety and the tears and the longing and the hopelessness and his knees came to his chest and he hugged himself in the vainest attempt to offer some comfort and the hope went away and desperation came in and loneliness and worthlessness and he wanted to end.
Blip… Blip… Blip…
“It’s OK” said the voice, coming closer to him. Sympathy did nothing. “You have gone through a lot and this is very scary but you are going to be fine.”
But he wasn’t. He couldn’t and he didn’t even know if he wanted to, but he knew he had to be better. Somehow. He knew it had to end. That was the best solution.
“Just make it end” he said.
“Now, you don’t mean that” said the voice with a pang of fear “Things will get better; do you have anyone you would like to talk to? Get some things off your chest?”
He looked at the voice. Silent. Contemplating the possibility that he could know someone who cared. That out there someone cared. He sought in his mind and everyone was far away. The people who cared weren’t the ones he wanted to think of. The one he wanted to think of didn’t care.
And again his chest was squeezed. But this time not much came out. He was running low on desperation, disenchantment, hopelessness… everything was getting numb again. A different numbness.
This numbness felt numb. It was difficult to feel it. To explain it.
He felt something changing. It was difficult to explain. The vacuum was taking some sort of shape. It was taking something away. His breathing became slower, more comfortable. He would feel the weight being lifted off his shoulders. The pressure being released from his chest.
“I think it’s ending” he said looking at the origin of the voice “I don’t think there is anything left here.” Some relief. He thought it was relief.
It was certainly something
“Look” said the voice “You need to relax a bit. Nothing is ending. You’ll be fine”
He felt his hand move away from his chest. Something was being pulled out at the same time. He couldn’t feel his heart anymore. He just noticed. He had been feeling every beat like a hammer. So hard, so bad it was causing him the pain.
He embraced the pieces of his heart. He felt like they were getting together again, a different heart. Broken. Working but purposeless. Numb, maybe dead.
He stood up and went through the door without even thinking about it.
He left himself behind.
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