this was terrific fun to write.
how does it work? questions, comments, suggestions? oh, and any other ideas for a title? i don't like this one so much.
I can hear voices, but my eyes stay closed. Fabrics sweep and rustle all around me. I can distinctly make out the swosh swosh of my uncle’s blue jeans. He’s probably pacing the room, making my mother crazy. I can tell she’s here—not only by the soft crinkle of her long skirts, but by the smell of cinnamon. The door creaks and opens and a third person enters. Heels click-clack on the floor, but I can’t make out who it is.
“Well Bill, I found out how she’s doing,” says the wearer of the heels. Her voice is largely familiar, but the cloud in my head keeps me from placing her.
The sounds of Uncle Bill’s pacing stop abruptly. “Well? Don’t just stand there, woman, give me the news!”
“It’s bad, Bill.”
“I can handle it.”
“I don’t think you can, Bill.”
“Dammit, Zelda, will you just give me the damn news before I have to shake it out of you?”
Ah ha. The heels belong to my aunt Zelda. This really must be some serious business, if both of my mother’s siblings are all in the same state together, let alone the same room. My sisters would kill for ringside seats like this. Finally, being in a coma has come in handy! I put all my effort into my ears and keeping the cloud away. I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in being the one who brought them back together. Even life-threatening car crashes have their good sides, I suppose. I listen hard for my tragic prognosis. If I concentrate hard enough, I might be able to peep open an eye to observe their teary embrace of support and forgotten love. Then I’ll shock them all by opening my eyes the rest of the way. By then they’ll already have bonded, and my rapid recovery will permanently seal their newfound devotion to each other. It’s a beautiful picture. If I could smile, I would.
“Well, Bill. I’ll tell you. That woman is through. She’s through!” snaps Zelda.
I find this a rather inelegant way to comment on my condition, but I don’t say anything. I can’t, at any rate. I wait for my mother to start wailing, and her brother and sister to rush to her side. I start gathering energy for my dramatic eye-opening.
“Now Zelda, you know I asked you to keep your personal feelings out of this! I don’t want to know how through the woman is, I asked you to find out if she was still with that baker!”
Baker? Baker? I had been on my way to the video store when the Hummer smashed into my Voltswagon Rabbit. I don’t remember no baker. Perhaps this is a case of mistaken identity, mixed with a sordid tale of forbidden love! Maybe after the crash, I had been pulled from the smoldering wreckage by a smoldering young baker. Stunned by my beauty, he impulsively told the doctors that he was my boyfriend. My mother was hurt and shocked that I had been seeing someone without telling her, and my uncle and aunt have, out of a buried sense of family duty, vowed to get to the bottom of the situation, so I would not leave this world leaving behind a taint of mistrust. When Zelda tells the news, they’ll embrace each other in relief, and then I’ll open my eyes! There will be such a rush of emotion in the room, there’s no way they’ll be able to go that long without talking. It’s brilliant.
I hear Zelda approaching Uncle Bill. “Yes, that skank is still seeing that damn baker. She’s doing more than just seeing him, too. And if you know what’s good for you, Bill, you’ll move your ass on. I always said that woman was poison, poison, poison!”
“I didn’t ask you what you thought, Zelda. Nobody asked you to get all up in my personal affairs.”
“Asking me to spy on your ex-wife isn’t getting all up in your personal affairs?”
Wait just a goddamn minute. They’re not even talking about me! Me, the battered shell of their niece, lying behind them IN A COMA, and they’re going on about Bill’s shady ho of a wife? Damn, Bill, I could have told you that she was cheating on you. Hell, the whole neighborhood could, from first-hand experience. I don’t see why coma-time has to be mixed with Bill-finally-getting-the-picture time. My eye-opening has to be dramatic! This is seriously not the drama I’m looking for.
“Now hold on just a bit now.” Finally, the voice of my mother! She’ll get them on task. She’ll remind them that her baby girl is suffering, that this is the time for support, not hollering about skanks. I can always count on my mother.
“Hold on,” Mom continues. “Jess is seeing the baker? Exclusively?”
Damn damn damn! Maybe I should just go ahead and die; maybe that would get their attention.
“We both know that that woman doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘exclusive,’” snarls Zelda.
“Now you’ve been talking dirty about my woman for twenty-seven years now, Zelda. When are you ever going to stop being so jealous of her?” Uncle Bill’s jeans are perfectly quiet. Bill always stands perfectly still right before he explodes. I would shiver if I could.
Zelda is undaunted. “The only thing to be jealous about that bitch is the fact that she gets more dates than I do. But of course she puts out much quicker.”
“You are talking about my wife!”
“Oh come on now Bill.” This time it’s my mother. “You can’t sit there and honestly say that you have had no idea these past twenty-seven years that Jess has been sleeping around—”
“Being a dirty ho,” interrupts Zelda.
“—however you name it, you’ve been cuckolded, many many times over. She didn’t even make an effort to hide it these past few years. You can’t pretend like you were completely out of the loop.”
“Well I was. I had no idea such doings were going on behind my back.”
“Then you’re even stupider than I thought,” declares Zelda. “I told you twenty-seven years ago that she was a bad apple. And you didn’t want to believe me. You’d rather cut your own sister out of your life than stop and think that your precious Jessica could ever do you wrong. I was with her that night—”
“NO NO NO!” roars Bill. “My Jessica did NOT have sex with anybody the night before we were married!”
“Open your motherfucking eyes, Bill. You’re in as much of a coma as Lizandra over there.”
Well. Nice to finally be recognized. And coma or no coma, I still know way more about what’s going on than Bill over there. Besides, if they were paying any attention to me, they’d know that I am currently in a semi-coma. I would hop up and tell Zelda off, but there’s still that half-consciousness thing I have to deal with.
“I am through with your lies, Zelda,” says Bill. “I’ve been listening to your razor tongue for too long. If you’re not going to tell the truth to me, don’t say anything to me at all.”
“I’ve never said a lie to you in your life. Not then, not now. And I’ll say it again. I walked in on your damn woman all naked and on top of the hotel bellhop in my hotel room the day before you got married! You don’t want no lies? I’ll say it again! I walked in on your damn woman all naked—”
“SHUT UP SHUT UP! Jessica warned me that you were jealous of our relationship and would tell lies to break us up!”
“Of course she said that, Bill! I’d just walked in on the woman getting it on with the hotel staff!”
“Bill,” says my mother, “you have been acting rather unfairly towards Zelda for a very long time. It’s not right to put your relationship with Jess above family.”
I have to agree with that, seeing as they are all three putting Bill’s relationship with Jess above me, who is family. And this is wrong.
“Oh, so now you’re ganging up on me too? Are all the women in my life turning against me?”
One woman in your life is trying to come out of a coma, thanks so much, if you’d turn around and pay attention.
“There you go again. Turning everything into a battle. This isn’t about taking sides, Bill, it’s about your refusal to listen to your sister. Now we all know that Jess is a—”
“—a free-loving woman. Now you can accept that—”
“I can’t believe that you actually believe Zelda’s lying ass.”
“I can’t believe you can be so hard-headed!”
“Well I can’t believe that—”
Something next to me is beeping. Beeping can’t be good. Hey, brother and sisterly love over there, don’t you hear this beeping? I can’t even open my eyes to see the call-nurse button, let alone move my entire arm to reach the button.
“There is no need for you to keep calling her names like that!”
“And there is a need for you to try and cut me off for the second time, over some woman who doesn’t even love you?”
“Oh, you’re going too far this time, Zelda, you are just going—”
“If you two would stop bickering for a moment and listen to each other—”
Listen? Listen? I’ve got something for them to listen to, and it’s a beeping medical apparatus. This is my hospital room, my tragic accident, and my dramatic recovery, and they’re ruining it by screaming about my dumb aunt who can’t keep her legs together! I can’t stand it! When did comas stop being serious? They’ve been watching too many Lifetime movies; they’ve been desensitized to them. For all they know, that beeping could be the Beep of Death! It could be saying that my kidneys are failing. My lung could be collapsing. The synapses in my brain could be ceasing to fire at this very second, and all they care about is Bill’s bitch wife. This is to the limit! This is out of control! If I had any feeling in my legs I’d kick some ass. I’d give them a piece of my mind. I’d tell them a thing or—
“Wait a minute. What’s going on?”
I hear them approach my bed and lean over me. Have they finally heard the beeping? It’s about time! For all they know it could be too late! I hope they’re guilt-ridden for the rest of their miserable lives! Although Bill will certainly deny any involvement, since it’s so much easier for him to ignore things than deal with them. My own mother wasn’t even fast enough. What kind of mother stops paying attention when her child is in danger? And Zelda! What does Zelda think she’s doing, bringing that old argument up in my hospital room?
“Look!” cries my mother. “I just saw her snap her fingers!”
“What’s she doing with her head?” asks Bill.
Zelda’s voice is incredulous. “Is she…is she weaving her neck at us?”
“Do you think all that hollering might have knocked her awake?” Bill says.
They all lean over me some more. “Praise Jesus,” whispers my mother. “I do believe she’s trying to tell us off.”
Through the tiny crack of my open eye, I can see them huddled together, hugging with relief and laughing. Exactly the picture I’d been hoping to see. At this point, though, I’m so disgusted that I just shut my damn eye again. My one chance at a dramatic, beautiful awakening, and they ruin it. I’m going back under.
NOTE: livejournal doesn't like indented paragraphs. so, all of my paragraphs will be separated by a space instead of indents. this is unfortunate, but ah well.
as always, thanks for reading.