Sunday, November 4, 2007


Below is the beginning of a different kind of horror story. I haven't finished it, and I don't know if I ever will. Truth is, it scares the crap out of me, and I don't quite know how to finish it. I know what the reality of the situation is, but I like happy endings, and the only way to make this a happy ending is to fudge on reality. Definitely not my thing.

Anyway, it's the story of a woman trapped inside her own head after an accident. I met a woman like this while I was in therapy for my own accident. A couple years after I 'graduated', I saw her in the mall. Her husband was rolling her through the crowd; her children tromped dutifully behind. Nothing had changed. Nothing except her eyes, that is. The horror within them had died. All that was left was a sick resignation to her fate.

I turned and walked the other way.



“…car accident… her brain sustained massive injury… loss of voluntary motor control…”

I can hear you, you know. I’m right here.

“Will she recover?”

I’m okay, Chad. Really I am. It doesn’t hurt at all. If you’ll just get these people to untie me, I’ll show you. We’ll go dancing tonight like we always do, or we can take the kids over to Mom’s house and then I’ll show you when we’re alone.

"After time and therapy, she’ll improve… But Mr. Boyd? I want you to understand, she’ll never be the woman you married.”

What is this guy talking about? I’m fine. Tell him to be quiet, Honey. Take me home.

“When can I take her home?”

Now. Take me home right now. I don’t like it here and I certainly don’t like the way these people ignore me.

“I think it would be best if you checked her into a facility more suited to her needs right now.”

Will you please shut up? I’m going home with my husband. I don’t have time for this shit. Teddy’s starting kindergarten soon, and who’s going to take Lara to band practice?

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

You tell him, Chad.

“Mr. Boyd. I’m sure you think you’re doing the right thing, but you don’t realize how much care your wife will need now. Someone is going to have to bathe her, and feed her…”

Bathe me? My ass someone is going to bathe me. I’ll bathe myself, thank you very much.

“There are going to be diapers to change…”

Did someone have baby without telling me?

“I work out of the house. I can take care of her. I won’t put her in a home.”

Of course not. There’s no reason to. Now will someone please untie me?

…one thousand, one hundred, ninety-two… one thousand, one hundred, ninety three… one thousand, one hundred, ninety-four! Who’da thought there’d be so many spots on the ceiling? Chad’s supposed to be here soon, if that silly girl is to be believed. I’d slap her if I could move my arm.

I wish I could still imagine I was tied down, but the first time one of those burly young men hoisted me up and into that damn chair, the illusion was shattered. Would have been nice if someone had said something. I felt like a fool those first few days, cursing them all for strapping me down.

“There’s my girl.”

And there’s my man. Damn, he looks so good. I miss him so much. If he could have only kept me at home, but that damn doctor talked him out of it. Not that I really blame Chad. After seeing what all the people here do, I wouldn’t want to do it either. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t want my husband—the man I slept with for almost ten years—to have to wipe my ass. It’s disgusting. It’s degrading.

“How have you been this week?”

Time to try talking again. Nothing ever comes out, but I think it makes Chad feel better if he can see some kind of movement. If I could make words come out of my mouth again, I’d tell him I was as fine as anyone can be whose trapped inside their own head, but that would only hurt him. I’d do anything not to hurt him any more.

“I have a surprise for you.”

I wonder if I can still look surprised.

“The kids are waiting in the lobby. The doctor says we can take you for a little drive. I had to badger him, but he finally caved. I couldn’t let you spend Mother’s Day inside.”

The kids are here? Oh god, no. I know I’ve been praying to see them again, but I don’t want them to see me like this. I want them to see their mother, not the drooling husk I’ve become. Please don’t do this to me.

“We’re here.”

Oakfield Brain Injury Center? Not another one. I don’t know why Chad keeps dragging me to these charlatans. None of them can help me. I know that. Three years and nine miracle therapists later and I’m still a lump.

Roll me in, talk at me for a while, move my legs and my arms. Every day for weeks until Chad buys a clue there’s no improvement. Not that all of them don’t promise him he’ll see something out of me. Heh. Even that first doctor said with time he’d see improvement. What a waste.

“Good afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Boyd. Welcome to Oakfield. I’m the director, Steve Winfield. We spoke on the phone. Our patients are just sitting down to lunch, so if you don’t mind, I’ll postpone the tour until afterwards. Why don’t we sit down and have lunch with them before we talk.”

Oh boy. I hope they have a blender and a straw. This is ridiculous. Didn’t Chad tell them I can’t chew?

Someone please tell these people brown and orange don’t go together. I wouldn’t be caught dead with those chairs.

“We don’t have a state of the art kitchen, but it works well for our purposes. Today, as with most days, the lunch has been made by our advanced kitchen skills class. Mostly the higher level brain injury patients.”

There are levels to this? Sounds like one of Teddy’s video games. Maybe if I roll over a magic turnip, I’ll move to another level. One where I can speak again.

“Good afternoon, Ella. May we sit with you.”

Oh, great. Let’s inflict my drooling on someone right off the bat.

Pretty girl. Too bad about the scar on her face, though. Heh. I’d trade my face if I could hold a conversation again. Then everyone can say, ‘To bad about her face, but she’s one heck of a witty chick.

Why isn’t she staring at me? Everyone stares at me. Why not? I look like a mannequin in a wheelchair. The only part of me that still looks alive is my eyes and no one can look into my eyes anymore. Even though they stare, it’s almost like I don’t exist. At least not as a human being any more. More like a curiosity. Like a two-headed cow at the fair.

“Hello, Ginny. Welcome to Oakfield. I hope you’ll decide to let these guys work on you.”

Ah. Marketing bitch. I should have known.

“Ella’s been a patient with us for a couple of years now.”

Okay, so maybe not completely a marketing thing.

“Two years, five months and twenty-three days, Steve.”

Smart ass.

“But who’s counting. Ella is almost finished here.”

“As a patient, anyway. I’m staying on as patient liaison.”

Stepford patient?

“If you don’t mind my asking, what happened to you?”

That’s it, Chad. Get right to the heart of the matter. She probably fell off her chair and got a little shaken up. Two years and thousands of dollars later, she’s well again.

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