Author: Psychobabble6 PM
Oneshot. What happens when love is put to the ultimate test. Can a person's longing to maintain their undying love defeat all else? No matter how trying?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Tragedy - Words: 2,753 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 10-04-07 - Status: Complete - id: 2422493
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This was a contest entry, and the first in four rounds. The judge gave it a score of 4.5, and the third best in ten entries. The category was tragic romance.
He's always going to be there, no matter what form he's taken. He is still my Liam. Forever.
"Of course not," I laughed into the phone at the inside joke he'd made. "Not my type."
He laughed melodically on the other end of the phone. I heard someone shouting at the other end.
"Ugh," he groaned. "Look, I have to go. My mom is making me go to bed. Some silly reason having to do with school tomorrow."
"Of course," I reasoned, "School isn't important."
"Hey, I'll talk to you later."
My heart skipped a beat as it always did when he said that. "I love you, too," I breathed.
His mom shouted something shrilly and the phone went dead. I sighed and rolled over in bed, turning off my cell phone.
That night, I dreamed of his pretty face, his spiky blond-brown hair, his warm bluish green eyes, and his soft caress. Oh, I loved him so very much.
Something shook me. Earthquake?
"Wha-?" I exclaimed, jumping up. I looked around. I had been dreaming about a car, or something to that nature; I couldn't quite recall. A minivan, I think. I tried to remember it, at the same time taking in my surroundings as my eyes adjusted to the dim light.
My mom hovered over me. "We have to go to the hospital," she said urgently.
I furrowed my brow, yawning. "Why?"
"I'll tell you in the car. Here's your coat," and she handed me my coat, "and here's your shoes," and she handed me my shoes.
"What's the hurry?" I asked, still not totally registering everything she said.
"Hospital, Manda, hospital!" she exclaimed as if I were slow, pulling me out of bed.
Oh. "Hospital?" I repeated, waking up now. "Who?"
"You need to take it sitting down," she warned, "So you'll find out in the car."
She dragged me down the hall and carefully, but quickly, guided me down the staircase and out the door. I was surprised how cold it was outside. I realized that my coat was still in my hand. Who was it that was in the hospital?
She opened the passenger's door, ushering me in and ran to the driver's seat.
That's when I noticed how many of our family members were already in the car.
None. Not my sister, not my brother, not my dad or grandma. Just my mom and me.
"Wait – why aren't we waiting for anyone?" I asked, my voice jumping a little as I realized that this involved me, and solely me. Otherwise, they would all be here.
She revved the engine and sped down the road.
"Manda," she cooed, "I'm sorry. It's…" She paused.
My friend Jackie? No, she was too dear to me. Not her. Besides, the whole family loved her. Perhaps my tutor of eight years? He was wonderful, and I wondered how I'd take it if he was in the hospital, though I doubted it was him. Sam? I hoped not. Neil?
I knew I was only delaying the inevitable choice. The one person who was truly mine, the one person who would really get my mother this worked up over someone that only mattered to me in this family.
"Liam," she finally breathed.
I froze. Liam. Not my Liam. Not him. No. It couldn't be. He was too good to be in a hospital. On an emergency! Not Liam. Liam couldn't be in danger.
Whatever it was, he would make it. Whatever the menace, he would make it through. He was strong. He was brave. He would tough it out. He would. I didn't care what it was. He would survive.
I dug my nails into my wrist for even suggesting that he may die. Of course he wouldn't die. It was unthinkable.
The dreaded place with its bright lights loomed up closer than I'd expected it to. I stared at it as it quickly grew larger and larger as my little taxi sped closer and closer. To him. I needed to see him. At the same time, I was afraid of what I'd see.
The next thing I knew, my mom was tugging me out of the passenger's seat, guiding my numb legs through the parking lot. He needed my guidance, my reassurance. I would help him get through this.
Soon we were in the hall, my mother chattering quickly to a short black woman behind the desk. The smell of chemicals, blood, bad hospital food and cleaning products forced its way into my nose, making my head reel at the thought that Liam was trapped here, in this horrible hell.
I next found myself in an elevator. I was on the edge of my feet, ready to spring out and see my Liam.
I was out of the elevator, stumbling in a random direction, looking frantically around me for any sign of him. I felt a tug on my arm as Mom pulled me down the opposite way to where I'd wandered. My feet smacked hard against the tiled floors, as I ran ahead of her.
"He's in this room," she softly told me from behind. I'd barely heard her over the force of the sobs I'd choked out, the sobs I'd just realized I'd been heaving.
I rushed in through the open door, looking anxiously around. There was a light blue curtain ahead of me and I immediately shoved through it.
The first thing I saw was a very large machine. Big. With wires, tubes and a screen that bleeped a green zigzag line every second or so.
The second thing I saw was Liam, though it wasn't the Liam I'd dreamed of that night. A long tube stretched out of his nose, echoing every breath he made a thousand fold. His perfect face was ashen, entirely devoid of its normal rich color. I couldn't take my eyes off his face. It was pitiful and pitiable. I rushed to his side, ready to yank that tube off of him to perhaps revert him to what he was, and what he should be.
A hand steadied mine inches from the tube. "He needs it to breathe," someone said.
I collapsed to my knees, staring at him. His eyes were shut as if he were sleeping, though he looked more tortured. As if he were having a nightmare. I longed to take him into my arms and wake him up, lovingly sooth him, make him forget he ever dreamed anything at all. Make him forget.
The horror of it was that I couldn't make him forget. Not when the nightmare was reality. Oh, if I could but change reality!
I took his hand in mine, silently glad to not be stopped this time. I ran my hands over his strong features, carefully cupping his hand around mine the way we'd always held hands.
Over my tears, I caught short blurbs of sentences like "…a bottle of a very serious drug,…" "He may, he may not…" "…daughter looks very distressed…" "…permanent mental damage…"
I didn't care to decipher what they spoke of. But they said it in hushed, urgent tones, as if life hung in the balance. I daren't think that it did.
Why? Why, why, why? Why did this have to happen?
His hand in mine was the only string I had back to reality. His hand was mine. The rest of him belonged to that horrid machine. His hand alone was mine then, cradled in my own, slowly catching the tears that spilled from my face.
A hand touched my shoulder. "We have to go," my mother softly told me. "It's time to leave."
I didn't say anything, or move at all. I wouldn't leave him. I would stay beside him, be here for him, like I'd promised.
She pulled me up. "Manda, he'll be better off if you leave. If you leave him, they'll be able to work on him and fix him. Make him better."
The thought that my keeping near him would, in the end, be his downfall was terrifying. I held on for one long last second before letting go. Before letting go of him, before letting go of my sanity, before letting go of life.
Apparently I'd fallen asleep in the waiting room, because I woke up in my own bed. My nightmare was the worst thing ever imaginable, and that I could dream it up was terrifying.
I'd woken up sweating, shoving away the horrible image of Liam's cold lifeless body sinking into the earth…
I walked in a daze that day, not paying attention to what was around me. The tubes in his face were everywhere I turned, burning a little ache inside me. I tried to remember the pleasant memories of him. The sound of his laughter in my mind soothed me and made the day bearable.
"Liam's alive!" my mother told me later on that day, as I wrapped my wet hair up in a towel. Her smile was bright, but her eyes were somber.
A little bubble of joy welled in my throat, and I could feel my face muscles turn into a grin. "That's fantastic! Oh mom, we have to go see him now! Mom, this is great!" I rushed over to her and hugged her tightly. Alive. Liam was alive! All my worrying and fretting and misery had been for nothing! He would live!
She gently pulled me away. "There's something I have to tell you about his condition though," she said. "In the car."
I frowned, and ignored her words. He was alive. That's all the mattered.
All the while as I hurriedly got dressed, I thought about him being alive, and for a scarce second what she'd said. 'His condition.' Well, perhaps he was in a wheelchair? That would be fine. He'd still be my Liam. Still as funny and wonderful as ever. Did they need to amputate something? He would still be fine, still be there. He wasn't dead.
I climbed quickly into my seat in the car, bouncing up and down in eagerness to see him.
"He may not be as…well…as you think," my mother warned from beside me.
I stopped jumping. "What?" I asked airily.
"He's…not fully recovered."
I breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, but he will be. Liam is strong."
She miserably shook her head. "They've done all they can do. I'm just warning you. He's not the same person he was."
Out of fear, I dared not to question her further.
I hurriedly turned the radio on.'Not the same person he was…' 'Not fully recovered…'
I didn't think about it. Didn't want to. Didn't dare to.
We were in the hospital parking lot. I shoved out of the car with a sort of anxious determination. I needed to see him. He needed me, but I didn't know how yet.
It didn't matter. He was still my love.
My mother went through the transaction with the lady behind the desk again, and I nervously tapped my foot, the excess energy never fully leaving through the tapping.
As soon as my mom walked up to me, she barely had time to mutter the room number to herself before I was shooting up the stairwell. The stupid elevator was far too slow.
I bolted down the hall, wrenched open the door and frantically shoved through the curtain.
Liam was there, awake and smiling. No tubes in his nose, no IV in his arm, a broad smile on his face. My knees felt weak in delight. What did Mom mean? He still had all his limbs. He looked fine.
I rushed beside him, clasping his hand again. "Liam," I breathed giddily, a flowery feeling welling in my chest. He's all right, he's all right, he's all right…
He wrinkled his brow in confusion. I blinked. "Lee…um…" he slowly repeated, a dumb expression on his face. I blinked again.
"Are you okay, Liam?" I asked, the full blow of what Mom had said finally sinking in.
His eyes creased in frustration. "Lee…um…I'm…Liam."
"Liam," I breathed, my voice inching higher. "Liam?! Liam??" my voice rose hysterically.
"Amanda, you're here," Liam's mom said from the corner of the room. My head shot up. Her eyes were dead, though she wore a fake smile plastered on.
"Mrs. Jameson, what's wrong with him?!" I cried.
Liam nodded his head back and forth blissfully, humming an onslaught of random notes in 'das' and 'dee dee dees.'
She walked unsteadily toward me, her arms grasping around me in a fierce hug. "Amanda," she murmured. "Liam. He didn't fully recover. He accidentally took a bottle of drugs last night – he thought they were something else, something less dangerous. He's…mentally retarded," she choked out.
I blinked. Liam smiled at us. "Hell…oh…" he said. "I'm Liam. Who're you?"
I found myself hugging her back.
A moment later, I pulled away from his mother taking his hand in mine again. "Hi Liam," I murmured quietly. "It's me, Manda. Amanda Yellowstone. Remember me?"
My shaky hands cupped around his face. "Hi, Liam," I repeated through choking sobs.
He began singing again, already losing interest in me, unknowingly pulling out of my grasp. He looked around, no humor or light in his eyes as I was so accustomed to. I pulled him into my arms.
"Oh, Liam," I cried into his hospital shirt.
He soothingly patted my back. "I can…sing a song. Do you…want to hear it?" It sounded like words were troublesome to form. What had happened to him?
He began humming random notes, with no sensible rhyme or reason to them. My tears soaked his shirt, and I listened to every lovely note.
At school, I took care of him. I took him to his classes, I read things to him, I sat with him at lunch, I listened intently to everything he had to say, no matter how little it made sense. I put on a show for him, to keep him blissfully happy, no matter how much it hurt to see him so changed . So – I hated to admit it – stupid. To see him as such a ghost of the past. People whispered that I was pretending that I might be able to bring him back from what he was. I wasn't. He was still beautiful, no matter how painful it was to remember him and what he used to be.
After school, I would go to his house and play with him, do whatever he wanted. Whatever his little heart desired.
Once in a while, it was too much to see his flat stare, listen to his slow speech, to even be around him, and I would break down right there. He would comfort me as he had done the night in the hospital, and sing to me his latest composition.
I loved him. He was still Liam, no matter what. I loved him, and I would forever, no matter what the cost. No matter the change. He was mine. And I hung onto every shred of the past.