Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)
TITLE: Brain dead
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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I pray for pain but my prayer is unanswered. If only I could feel a combustion of pain, a fire that burns, peppers and tortures. Instead, I lie down here, hearing, smelling but unable to do anything else. Inert.
A smell of fresh powder suddenly bursts into the room.
I know it's the afternoon nurse. I also know that she's now off duty and ready for home. For a date. For life. I have never seen her face. I might never see it. But in my mind, in that only part of me that it still alive, I have drawn her a profile.
She is tall, fair, with a shock of dark hair. Irresistible brown eyes and a pinkish mouth that usually tends towards a pout complete the picture. If I were to cast her as a character in one of my books, she would be a flirt. She would be…
The door opens again. Gently this time. I know it's Dave. Dave is my husband of ten years, had never been good at holding up under pressure, in my opinion had never been a strong man. But he's doing well. I now know he's the kind of least-expected hero that only few writers can develop into a wholesome character.
"Say hello to mommy."
I can't see her but I know Katie is frightened. She's never seen her mommy like this, and I know it’s a dreadful shock to her seven-year-old mind. Two weeks ago, I'd been in charge of our home, of the lives of these two precious people. I'd driven Katie to school. I'd been in full charge of my writing career, scheduling an interview with an old eccentric professor. I'd wanted to get into his head, explore the mind of a man who'd fought in and survived two wars and yet gone on to become a philosopher.
But now, I'm here unmoving and my continued existence is just because of Dave's faith, of his belief that one day I'd open my eyes again, be a wife and a mother again, a writer, a person.
"Would you like to tell mommy about your drawing."
In a trembling voice, Katie begins to tell me about the yellow sun and stick figures she'd drawn for her coloring class. She is urged along by Dave. After a while, the nurse wishes my family a goodnight and finally leaves.
I wish I have the ability to tell Dave and Katie that I can hear them, that I can smell them, that I long for the day I can write again.
The doctor painted an altogether different picture.
She's brain dead. Legally dead. She can't feel or hear anything. She's gone and you need to come to terms with that. We need to pull the plug.
But I am not brain dead. If so, how is it possible that I can hear and smell these people? How is it possible that I can still think of writing? How is it that I can still love so much?
Katie's narration is interrupted by the doctor. I bet he's thickly built and carries a flabby stomach . From his voice, I guess he's old and has seen life at its worst.
In this trap that an untimely stroke has hedged me, imagination is my only release. From voices and smells, I construct whole persons and label them heroes or fiends, victors or vanquisheds, lovers or haters, dreamers or realists. The only snag is that there is nothing more I can do. I can't sit at my computer and build scenes around them.
As usual, the doctor's words are hard and deliberate. "Dave, it's been two weeks. The insurance company has said it would stop paying. She's dead and there's nothing we can do about it. It's the machines that keep her partially alive and…"
"The insurance company won't pay." There's a firmness to Dave's voice. "But I'm not going to authorize anyone to turn off the machines. I've prayed and I know she'll live."
"I don’t want to talk about this, especially not in front of Katie."
Real or imaginary, there's a lump in my throat. Just this morning, I'd called out to the one who made me. Take me home to be with You or show me a sign that I still need to be here.
This is my sign.
One day I'll breathe on my own again. One day I'll hold Dave and Katie again. One day I'll write again.
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