My legs carry me mindlessly through the white-washed walls of the intensive care unit. I am stuck in a labyrinth in which there is no end, there is merely alcoves on either side which take you even further into the maze. Nurses with faces as pale as their uniforms pass me like zombies, their minds calculating numbers on charts which directly correlate to a list of symptoms that equate to something less than diagnosable. I am nothing more than a distant shadow in their busied brains.
Unknowingly, I begin counting the rooms after I pass through the double doors, remembering that yours is the ninth on the right. My heart rate steadily increases, no longer in tune with the clicking monitors that surround me like locusts, calling out to those just as alive and lonely.
I rest my hand on the doorframe of room number ninety-four as I attempt to collect myself. Just as I inhale a deep breath, my vision blurs and every emotion I have (until now) successfully shoved into the deep recesses of my chest now rises up my stomach and into my mouth. I press my lips together, holding back the bile that has taken up unwanted residence on my tongue. Warm tears squeeze their way out from behind my eyes as I swallow it back down, suppressing it once more. I attempt another deep breath, and another, until I realize I am unable to procrastinate any longer.
I hear the rustling of stiff sheets and the slight give of a hard mattress. You're awake.
I clear my throat softly, wanting you to be aware of my presence, although I am certain that the heartbeat that reverberates my eardrums must have given me away miles ago.
A white curtain hangs from the tiled ceiling, held up by metal clamps looped around a pole for easy accessibility and I can't help but wonder if that pole would be strong enough to hold me. But just as I begin planning what sheet and what knot I would use around the pole, I step into view of you.
My hand is pulled to my lips like a magnetic force that is out of my control as I take in the sight of you. Your left eye, which once shone a more brilliant blue than the clear waters of the Caribbean, is now bloodshot and swollen. The left side of your head is bandaged and half of your pale blonde hair is shaved down to your bruised scalp. Your lips, which were once so thin and precious, are now bloodied and blown-up like red balloons. Your bones jut out from beneath your skin, as though your collarbone is rejecting you and begging to be freed. Down your arms I notice the scabs and scars and marks from unsuccessful attempts to hook you to an IV. But there is more than just one bag hanging beside you, and I realize that the other is Morphine.
I take a step closer to you, waiting for your eyes to flutter open like they did so many mornings when I'd wake you with your favorite breakfast (two plain pancakes and a cigarette). Your head tilts slightly to the right but your eyes remain closed. I take another small step, and another, until my waist is just inches from the seemingly disjointed hand hanging limply from the edge of the bed. I reach out and press my shaking fingertips to the hard palm that faces me, hoping for your hand to turn and clasp around mine, silently accepting my every apology.
But your hand remains stiff against my touch.
I memorize the new lines on your hand, the crescent-shaped bruises on your palm and the shallow scratches on the back of your hand where I pressed my lips more times than I could ever possibly count. I trace my way up your arm, my fingertips traveling over the hills of your veins, a familiar territory, and the streams of tubes filled with fluid, an uncharted area. Just as my hand begins the climb up your forearm and into the crease of your elbow, I feel your arm move. But rather than moving towards me, an invitation to venture even closer, it is pulled away from me, a protest.
I take a step back and inhale a deep breath, feeling the rush behind my eyes again, as I notice your right eye is now looking right at me, into me. I search the depths of your gaze in the hope that I will resurface with a strand of hope or affection that I can hold on to for the rest of the day, but I come up empty-handed. All that I can find in your eyes is a direct reflection of the pain that both your heart and body are enduring.
"I'm so, so, so-"
But before I can even begin to utter my sincerest of apologies, your hand is held inches above the mattress, silencing me. I dive into your eyes again, deeper and deeper, realizing that if I can't find any form of redemption, then I'd rather just drown in them. But you jerk me back to reality with only two words.
I feel the tidal wave crash into my chest as I take another step back.
My worst fear has been realized - you don't want me here.
Suddenly every argument, every fight, every "I'm sorry," every "you don't mean that," every "I love you," every "don't say that," was another wave throwing my helpless body against the cliffs and coral reefs. I am lifeless, my body thrashed beyond recognition, my heart ripped to shreds.
Tears gather behind my eyes and burst through, falling upon my cheeks as though the depths that I have drowned in have finally consumed me.
I reach out once more, my shaking hand yearning for the touch of your skin.
But you pull your head from me, wanting nothing to do with me.
An earthquake shakes my chest and threatens to pull me in half as I backpedal out of the room, temporarily getting wrapped up in the white curtain that I had admired just minutes before.
The rush returns to my head and I can no longer see anything but frothy waves that continue to pull me under, and I can no longer hear anything but the sound of water filling my ears.
My shoulder connects with a sturdy boulder and I fall to the ground, collapsing into nothing more than a puddle, the aftermath of the hurricane that has wrecked my body, and you are no longer able or willing to save me.