Popping Balloons

September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have not blogged in SO LONG! It’s been a crazy few weeks back at school, so I apologize! Here’s something I wrote for my creative writing class this semester:


He’s a man I’ve seen many times before, even if his shiny badge bears a different name, like Stephen or Matthew or maybe David. He has a white coat that whooshes and very little hair and glasses he pushes up a steep nose, and for these reasons he is the same man, the Doctor. He smiles at me and speaks in a silly voice and then whispers things to nurses in funny colored clothes and tired expressions. He has to check his clipboard before saying “Now, Kellianne,” maybe to remember what my name is, or maybe just because that’s what the Doctor always does, the same way a dog gnaws at its paw or Grandma nods her head during movies.


He wants to tie me down.


This much I understand. There are rolls of gauze next to my hands, and straps poking out from under the scratchy paper that rips when I squirm, which is often. They are about to put me into a tube where they will take pictures of my brain, and this I know because I’ve done this many times before with the Doctor and the nurses in funny colored clothes in rooms with balloons on the walls, or sometimes monkeys.


I am screaming.


I have never screamed before, or perhaps I have, probably I have, what with all the tests and the Doctor, but I have never screamed like this. There is something different in this scream. They call for my mother, who is sitting in a chair underneath some red balloons that look as if they are bobbing in the air, but they are not. They are just fading pictures on the wall. She has a tired face, but it’s still young, and she does that thing where she rubs between her eyebrows, and after that puts her face in her hands, but only for a moment. Then she’s beside me, and her warm hands on my shoulders feel normal, like what should be, instead of the unnaturalness of the paper gown crinkling over my little body. I am begging her to make them go away, I’ll do the test tomorrow, I want to go back to my room now and stare at the ceiling while the streets of Boston scream outside my window and the halls of the hospital scream outside my door.


She’s still in her twenties, my mother. This is not what she planned for, not what she wanted. She could be in college somewhere, she could not be paying for my father’s law school tuition, she could be a screw-up or maybe working as a secretary or traveling in the world or living with her mother. And even if she were married with children, she could have healthy children, instead of a girl who kept getting sicker but wouldn’t die.


Mommy, please don’t let them, please don’t let them. I am choking on my own words and I’m getting snot in my hair and things are starting to get blurry again, blurry and confusing and unreal. The lights are too bright and the Doctor is fumbling with his keyboard and the women are inching closer, as if moving towards a loose tiger in the zoo, or a runaway patient from an insane asylum. 


My father is not here. He is never here. He is at home with the baby and the other baby, and I never see him. I know he calls sometimes and asks my mother when we’ll be coming home, and that then she starts to cry and they yell at each other and my mother looks out the window and looks young and pretty but also tired and sad.


She’s whispering things to me now, and I can’t really make out the words, but I know they are meant for comfort. And they are saying, Just do this, Kellianne. Just do it again, one more time, and then tomorrow. She’s so tired and I don’t know it then but she’s having thoughts of running her car into the town lake and letting all the water pour into the windows, into her lungs, into her aching soul. But I am still screaming at that tired face, and I want her to stand with me, us against them, the Doctor and the nurses, us against them, this really awful world that’s hated us from the start, and I don’t know why.


Oh, now, it’ll be alright, says the Doctor. Good little girls get a new friend at the end, don’t they, Mom? He’s holding a pink fluffy toy flamingo out to me and smiling, smiling, and just at that second the women leap at me and grab at my wrists and I thrash and scream and thrash and scream and there goes my mother’s head into her hands, and she’s imagining the car at the bottom of the lake.


Someone’s grabbing a needle, a stout woman with stringy blonde hair in a knot and bright blue toucans on her shirt. My mother is protesting, waving her hands in the air, and the Doctor is speaking to her calmly, in the way he always does, in that voice that says Things Will Be Okay, when everyone know’s that’s a fucking lie, because the girl on the table is probably never going to get better, and we are just shoving her into the tube for the hell of it. The straps are holding me down now and my screams are filling up the whole room, and it seems like the red balloons should pop, but they don’t because they are just fading pictures on the wall.


The bright light above me is beckoning, beckoning, and I scream to it, scream for it to release me, to let me go from these straps and these hands and my mother’s tears. I can’t understand why everyone and everything else is so quiet, why I’m alone in the scream, a scream I’ll stay trapped in for years.


Then there’s a sharp stab in my forearm, and the light is swallowed up whole in darkness. 


At some point I wake up and the pictures have been taken and the answers still aren’t clear, won’t be clear, maybe after the next test. The lights are too bright again in the hospital hallways, illuminating every scuff mark on the floor, every glint of pain in a patient’s eyes, my mother’s eyes. But I am still in that darkness, in the scream, and even when the hospital doors open years later, and real sunlight filters down upon the wreckage of souls that are my mother and I climbing into the family minivan, the darkness still lingers, wraps around my heart. And the scream reverberates in my soul. 


Where Am I?

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