Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Gone by Michayla Clemens


It seemed that our feet didn’t feel the ground we ran on. The gravel should have felt wet and sharp against the heels of our feet, but it didn’t. Instead it was like soft sand, being kissed by the ocean. Every harsh thing seemed non-existent to what was happening to us right now. All of the emotions, the thoughts that wouldn’t give in, tumbled around in my head making everything around me numb. This pain, this horrible dreading feeling that we felt was nothing compared to our surroundings.
In fact, it wasn’t until we plunged through the big white doors and into the hospital foyer that I ever knew it had been cold outside. My mind didn’t seem to have registered that we had run all that way to get to here. All that mattered was getting to our destination. But now that we were here, it felt disorientating. What were we to do now? The two of us, hand in hand- stood frozen to the spot, waiting for the thought to come to us, the one that would tell us what do next.
This may have only been for a second, but it felt like hours as my poor red, cold feet throbbed in the soles of my three inch heels. All I could think about was my feet, and the pain that they had suddenly started to register. No other thought would cross my mind and it seemed almost ridiculous.
My fingernails now dug deep into Vera’s hand as we, still panicked and full of adrenaline, rushed across the foyer, almost collapsing at the main desk. I looked down at my poor red feet and those menacing sparkly shoes that I longed to take off, gripping into my skin and caging my feet like barbed wire.
Both of us welcomed the relief of leaning on the desk, panting as we looked longingly at the woman behind it, as if we could tell her who we needed with only a look of desperation.
Vera was trying to speak now, through her short breaths. Neither of us was exactly athletic so this wasn’t surprising. I especially could feel my quick breathing, only making my heart beat faster instead of calming it down. With every new breath my heartbeat became more and more sporadic. With a pang of regret I realized my inhaler wasn’t with me.
Trying to will away my asthma, I closed my eyes, focussing on the smell of the room around me. It smelled like detergent and cleaning products. This hospital familiar, it was the one I had been to when I had my operation to remove my appendix. The pain had been immense, making me moan all day and all night before my surgery in the morning. When I had woken up the pain was gone and only the memory remained, however hazy. They sent me on my way the next day and that was that. I had been happy to see the back of this place, and I would be happy to see it again now.
But this was hardly the same thing. Maybe I was just trying not to think pessimistically but the idea that I was actually here, that this was actually happening was unbelievable. I literally could not take it in.
Nothing much good happened here, there were people being fixed after being broken, people in comas, people dying... For a place that was meant to heal, it held a lot of misery. I did want to be here but I knew I had to be.
“We’re looking for Lillian Fairfax,” Vera said, clearly now, outlining every syllable. I felt Vera squeeze my hand, speaking to the women with her other one. She gestured to the woman, describing the person we were looking for. Vera always talked with her hands.
“Lillian Marie Fairfax.”
Unfortunately, saying her name correctly didn’t make a difference. 
As if, stating her whole name would make the woman help us any quicker. She seemed to be typing the name into her computer as slowly as she could, dragging her mouse towards her without a care.
She was an old lady, I could see that much. But the once over she had given us as we practically landed on her desk had made me self-conscious. Vera clutched the opening of her jacket closed and stared at her, waiting. I could tell she was getting impatient with this frustrating woman too.
“We need to know where she is!” Pushing it, I thought to myself, very soon I would be pushing it.
But I couldn’t help it, I was pushy at the best of times, but as of now, no-one else mattered.
A drop fell from a strand of my hair onto the counter, like the hand of a clock jolting past another second.
“She’s in the emergency room...”
As soon as she named it, my eyes found the sign that would lead us there.
“But,” she said, her cold wrinkled fingers clasping my hand, making me freeze as I moved away, “I’m afraid only family are allowed in.”
Rage suddenly burned in her veins. I knew she was thinking about sliding her hand out from under the woman’s slapping her smug face with that same hand before running for the emergency room. And she would have done it too, if I hadn’t told her-
“She’s our sister.”
My voice sounded jittery, hardly convincing. But still, she let us go. Before I knew it, Vera was pulling me down a slippery white hallway towards what must have been the emergency room. My legs were finding it hard to keep up with her rushed pace. They were slowly falling asleep in the middle of all this chaos. This would not help. I needed my legs to walk, to run. So I simply willed them to keep going to keep following after Vera, no matter what. In the next moment we were turning, almost sliding from the water that was dripping onto the lino cream floors. The feeling was emulating the moment. It felt almost euphoric, speeding out of control around that corner. That was, until we spotted a familiar figure, standing at the end of the hall.
“There they are.” I pointed, but Vera had spotted them the same time I did.
A man, standing in a grey tuxedo had a hand paused in horror over his wrecked face, the other was hidden in the pocket of his suit. The posture he held was almost hunchback, like at any minute he would fold into himself. I could see he was staring in horror at a window in front of him. The platinum blonde hair I had always adored now looked grey upon his head, but I refused to believe anything but the fact that it looked that way, simply because of the harsh hospital light shining down on him from the ceiling. As we made our way towards him, walking now, I also saw a boy sitting behind him in one of the seats against the wall.
The boys head was bowed, his face in his hands. He was wearing a tuxedo as well, though it looked slightly more dishevelled. He was almost unmoving, like a statue. It was so painful to watch this shadowed boy because I had known him almost the whole of my life and I had never seen him so torn. In the next thought I registered how little he looked like his twin sister. Where he had jet black hair, she had platinum blonde and where he had pale white skin, she had a constant sun-kissed tan, no matter what season. The two were only alike in personality, both strong and outgoing as well as stubborn. Looking at him now, was like looking into an empty picture frame, I wasn’t seeing exactly what I wanted to. My eyes could do nothing but look away as we were almost in arms reach of the two by now. 
It was Vera who let go of my hand and lightly touched her own against Mr Fairfax’s frozen arm. Her hand seemed to touch a nerve in his body somewhere that made him jump. Mr Fairfax spun around at us, as if jolted from a deep sleep. At first his expression didn’t seem to register who we were. But we had known him our whole lives, how could this be so hard to remember?
“What happened? Where is she?” Vera demanded.
 She couldn’t seem to get her words out quick enough and mine didn’t seem to want to come out at all. Her forehead was creased with worry, her emerald green eyes staring into the man whose daughter was our best friend.
My own eyes watered as I stared into the crystal blue of Mr Fairfax’s, identical to Lilly. There were so much sadness, it seemed, painted into the eyes that I remembered always replicated happiness. I had this overwhelming urge to erase all that misery from his eyes and replace it with the happiness from my memories, the happiness I had seen in his daughters eyes so many times before. God, they all seemed so long ago now and so far away.
Mr Fairfax was trying to speak, his mouth opening and closing like a goldfish as he stared at us. No, it was not at us but beyond. We were just translucent and he could see something further away, maybe it was a happier place than the one we were in.
“They said that...”
I wouldn’t get to hear what he had to say, the answer to Vera’s questions, because he was interrupted by a snapping sound, like someone clapping their hands. Maybe it was eerie because it sounded so final, like someone had made a decision and that was it. All three of us turned our gaze to the window. Grey blinds covered up the glass so that you couldn’t see through it. I was busy trying to figure out where the sound had come from when I realized that the space around us had been chaotic, only minutes ago. I hadn’t noticed until it was gone, but since we reached Lilly’s family, there had been noise all around us. Machines had been bleeping and there were shouts. They had come from that room. The final snapping sound had been from the blinds being shut, shielding us from its view and all had gone silent behind it.
It wasn’t until I heard the blinds snap that I realized Lilly had been in that room. The whole time she had been on the other end of that window, and I hadn’t looked. That’s why Mr Fairfax looked longingly at it now. I felt like kicking myself for not bothering to look through the window sooner and see for myself if Lilly was alright.
“Is she in there?”
But no-one answered.
Everyone had turned, swerved their bodies to face the closed door. I could only peer around Vera’s shoulder in order to see the beige door in full length. Another snap sounded, this time it was from the doorknob, turning with a click. Someone on the other side was turning it. Beside me I felt around for Vera’s hand. I needed to know she was still there, that she was still with me. It found mine, as soon as I had gone looking for it. Her freshly painted pink sparkly nails dug into my palm again, but it was alright. The pinch that they gave me was some reassurance that I was still here and this was happening. The three of us gazed on as the door glided open, almost in slow motion to reveal a man, wearing light blue scrubs and what looked like a shower cap. There were red stains on his scrubs, but I didn’t register what they were right away.
The doctor lifted his head, wearily and took us all in. A sigh echoed from his chest, deep and full of thought. I would have given anything in that moment to hear what he was thinking. The room was silent as we waited. All I wanted to do was take Vera, and pull her with me into that room. I wanted to find Lilly there, sitting with her arms wide open, laughing at the worried looks on our faces, telling us that this had all been a silly practical joke.
But the doctor was like a wall, a wall between us and her.
I think the next thing he told us was that we might want to sit down. But we all refused, shaking our heads simultaneously. We just wanted to know that she was alright, after we knew that, then we could sit down.
I watched his mouth move, my ears turning on like a radio finding the right station.
Lilly’s doctor explained everything. But it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wish that I could put all the sound around me on mute as I listened in horror. He used all of these dreadful words like “critical” and “fatal”, “toxins” and “failure” and it was like it was happening, right before my eyes. The images in my head were whirring like some kind of sick horror film as he described the accident and what he tried to do to save her.
And then, he gave a pause. We all waited for the “but” or even a “however” to start his sentence.
But it didn’t come.
And in a single pause, my best friend was gone.


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