Coma Patient (Day 27)

The stark white room was filled with the beep of the heart monitor and six people all holding their breath: 1 doctor, 2 nurses, his parents, and his wife. Xavier opened his eyes slowly, letting in only the slightest bit of light to his underused retinas. One of the nurses moved back from the bed and flipped one of the two light switches on the wall, dimming the room. Xavier opened his eyes a little bit wider and tried to focus on the smiley face stuck to the ceiling above his bed.

He groaned and tried to lift his head, but his body was weak from inactivity. “Try to relax Xavier,” said the nurse still at his bedside. His wife’s eyes were red and puffy as the tears welled up inside them. His mother’s hands were wrapped around her husband’s arm, but she managed to hold back tears as she gripped him tighter. Xavier tilted his head towards the woman speaking with a relaxing tone. His mouth opened and a cough escaped, “Where am I,” he asked with a scratchy voice.

The doctor stepped up closer to the bed and pulled out a penlight, scanning it back and forth between his eyes. “Xavier, you’re in the hospital. You were in an accident. I’m Dr. McDonald.” He continued to wave the light back and forth as Xavier’s eyes shifted to avoid gazing directly into it. The doctor turned to the nearby nurse, “push 25 more cc’s.”

Xavier coughed again and titled his head to the other side, slowly focusing on everyone else in the room. When his eyes met with his wife’s gaze, her look bore directly into his soul as a pained smile joined the tears. Her hands were shaking when she reached out and grabbed his hand in both of hers, squeezing tightly. “Who are you?”

Everyone in the room could hear her heart hit the floor on his words. The crying became heavier still as she began to hyperventilate. One of the nurses moved over to the other side of the bed and set her hands on the wife’s shoulders, trying to calm her down to no avail. The wife was nearly hysterical when she was escorted out of the room, sobbing uncontrollably.

Xavier was confused and didn’t understand the reaction. Looking at her face he could tell that she knew him, somehow, but her face was completely unknown to him. He heard the doctor call his name again, but it felt uneasy to hear it, because he knew the doctor was talking to him, but to him Xavier was someone else. His mother excused herself to join his wife in the waiting room, leaving only three strangers in the room with Xavier.

“Xavier, do you know your last name?”

He thought hard about the question, but his memory was a clean slate. He replied slowly, “My name is Xavier?” He looked directly into the eyes of the doctor, but was lost inside his own head. The doctor turned toward the father and said, “Mr. Lee, I think it’s best if we spoke outside for a minute.”

The remaining nurse grabbed a second pillow from the chair beside the bed and helped Xavier prop himself up. He watched the two men leave the room, but he barely understood what was going on. He felt weak, alone, and scared. The nurse smiled at him as she adjusted the pillows. “Don’t worry Xavier, it’ll be okay.”

This is part of a 30 day series of 2-3 minute short stories written for the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2011. You can view all the stories in the Short Story A Day category.

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