The rhythmic beeping seemed to come from a long way off. Alex tried to roll over, the motion moving her head and shoulder, triggering a sharp pain, which shot down the length of her arm, down the right side of her back. She moaned, her voice coming hoarse, her throat screaming for moisture. The blackness at her eyes was trying to suck her back down, away from the beeping. She was inclined to let it lead her away, smoothly back into the land of the unhearing.
The beeping was getting more annoying, pinching at her eardrums. She turned her head the other way, more pain emanating from the stupid husk of her body.
She peeled open her eyes, as dry as her mouth, lights almost blinding her, making her intake breath sharply. Which only triggered more pain from her chest. There was a tube in her nose and one down her throat. She wretched, her back arching against her will, her shoulder still protesting, her hip joining the cacophony. Hands reached in, unfastening things behind his ears, pulling the tube rom his throat. Voices, soothing, came from all side.
“Breathe, Alex. You’re going to be okay.”
“Hey, baby girl. You’ll be fine. Let it come up. You’ll be fine.” Was that mom? She was here, why wasn’t she at home? This was a long way from home.
There was nothing in her stomach but bile. It burned her nose and throat. She spat the remainder into the bag given to him by a pink scrubbed nurse and flopped back into bed. She squinted through pinpoint pupils.
“Mom?” there she sat, knitting in her hands, at the edge of her bed, red rimmed eyes and tear stained cheeks.
“I’m here baby girl. I’m here. So’s your dad.” Alex looked to the end of her bed. Her dad stood, smiling like a crazy man.
“Hey, Alex.” Her dad pinched her toe, gently. Alex’s food twitched under the oatmeal colored blanket. “How you feeling?”
“Like I need some water.” She tried to smile. “And a Texas sized burger.” A straw was proffered and she drank and smiled at the nurse.
“Does anything hurt?” she asked, smiling back.
“Just everything.” Alex fumbled with the bed controls, bringing herself into a sitting position. It made everything hurt even more, as if a new level of pain could be reached. The nurse bustled about the room, saying something about getting a doctor and getting approval for more pain medication. Alex reached to her hip, feeling for the large patch of gauze. It wasn’t there. Why did she hurt this bad?
“Who knew this would hurt so…” she stopped, stomach dripping into the floor. “Mom. How did I get here? What happened?” Her mom smiled, sadly, her eyes welling with more tears.
“You were in an accident, sweetheart.” She stroked his hand. “You ran into a truck pulling a trailer full of rebar. You ran into it and the rods weren’t secure enough. You were stabbed three times. You’ve been here a while.”
“What do you mean a while?” the heart monitor next to her began to speed up.
“Alex!” A doctor entered the room, flipping though a medical chart. How are you feeling?”
“A bit like someone stabbed with with several pieces of rebar.” Alex tried to smile, even though she hoped desperately that her mother would finish her sentence.
“Ah.” The doctor flipped the chart closed. “Then they’ve told you.”
“Not everything. How long have I been here?”
The doctor sighed, walking around the bed to sit on the edge.
“The injuries you sustained from that accident were too much for you to simply wake up from them.” Alex’s heart monitor picked up speed, again. The doctor lean over, flipped a switch, and the beeping ceased.
“We had to put you under for surgery, but then you just didn’t want to wake up You’ve been in a coma for three years.”
Alex’s stomach turned, she felt the bile try to come up again, she heaved. The nurse was there, bed bad in hand. The acid came up again, burnin her throat for a second time.
“How long?” She finally spat out the words, along with the rest of the bile into the bed pan.”
“Three years.” The doctor nodded. “What’s the last thing you remember?” That was the hard part. What did she remember last? What was the brightest piece of memory she could dig up from her rusty brain?
“I was headed to the mall.” Alex nodded. “Trying to see if anyone had any open positions. I need the money for starting college next year.”
“What was the date?”
“October twelfth, twenty-twelve.”
“It is currently February twenty second, twenty fifteen.” Alex started at the doctor. Her heart was hammering in her chest and her mouth was dry. She had the urge to run.
“It’s not.” The doctor picked up the TV remote from the tray next to her bed. The new channels all said the same date, February 22, 2015.