The hollow of her cheek was resting on the curve of her kneecap, her other leg was down, ankle hooked around the leg of the chair. The dress was dark grey, accentuating the grey in her long black hair. Once in a while she would lift her cheek from its spot on her knee and look left and then right, grey eyes as hollow as the dead. Her dusty white skin was pulled taut with the minimal strength she held herself with. She cried well, there were no ugly red splotches under her eyes from the heavy dousing of tears that had been spilling down her cheeks. In fact, she cried really well. The black haired woman was holding herself together by threads.
I knew this because the fear was almost overwhelming my senses. I had asked to be moved but had been informed by clip nurses that I may have had a rough trial, but that woman had had an equally tremendous change in her life, and to leave her be. So I shrugged and held myself together as well. That scent kept cloying at me though and I really couldn't move too much at all.
The drugs were overwhelming. I knew this because I was surprised I could even ask to be moved. My tongue was like a cotton slug in my mouth, twitching every once in a while – in fact that movement was the only thing that told me I had a tongue. The rest of my mouth just hurt. They had stuck a tube down my throat to keep me breathing, the respirator lodged deep, while they did things to me. I don't remember, and hadn't had the nerve to ask.
My throat was sore; eyelids burned but I forced them open, watching everyone, rather fearful of what else they might decide to stick me with. The last one had been a doozy, I'll tell you. Talk about a miscalculation of epic proportions – it had knocked me clean for hours, almost killing me as my heart was overwhelmed with the urge to stop fighting. From what I gather, I had died for a while there.
I introduce you to my trust in doctors.
They never know what the hell their doing, the bastards.
My skin twitched somewhere below my neck. I couldn't exactly pinpoint where, because my body was numb from those sedatives. That and the restraints.
Forgot to mention those I suppose.
Across my collarbone – a little too close to my neck for my liking – around my stomach, another around my hips, another along my upper thighs, another across my shins and then two loops around each of my ankles. I hoped I was dressed. I couldn't feel if I was or not, and I couldn't move my neck, it had been placed in this cradle that kept me looking forward. My arms were strapped down as well, individually to keep me from 'doing myself harm'.
My only salvation had been when they lifted the bed so I could look at the nicely white wall as opposed to the nicely white ceiling. Not too much of a view either way, but I'd prefer to look straight ahead as opposed to up any day.
"N – …" I tried calling for the nurse. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, these are my hands, my feet, and my skewed vocal cords. I loved doctors.
A nurse appeared almost magically but there was a needle in her hand, something yellow and green swirling about happily just giggling in ecstasy to be injected into my veins. Okay, so the drugs were a little too powerful for my brain right now. Perhaps the drugs weren't giggling, but I bet behind that cold face staring down at me like I was bug to be squashed and removed from her sight, she was laughing at me. I could hear it, faintly, too…
It was a soft giggling, but a childlike one, like if she were transported into her blissful childhood whenever she hurt a patient in the ward. She probably did it all the time to remember that time when she was happy. I could see it, helping an old woman back into bed and poking her with a needle of morphine to give the lady a high of life and just watching in quiet condescension as the woman died slowly from the addiction. Yeah, the drugs were great…
"W –?" I had meant to ask what the needle was for.
She reached down, dug her sharp-assed nails into my neck, checking for a pulse. I whined piteously, wishing she'd just leave me alone, and to stop fucking touching me.
"Shh!" she hissed and kept poking my neck with those sharp little fingers of hers, searching for my pulse, my throat protesting.
"Eoahhhhh." Was all that would come out my damned mouth.
"You need more sedatives." She said, looking at me with a motherly expression.
I tried to hiss at her.
But the needle came down and impaled my neck, inserted into the main vein. Once in the jugular all I could see was the woman's face and even that was fading.
Everything turned into cotton candy clouds as my body closed down and I was reminded briefly of Dumbo when the stupid elephant gets drunk. Then the thought disappears with everything that is me and all that is left is a body, strapped to a bed.
If she hadn't been so hollow inside, perhaps Cassandra would have felt the eyes searing into her, but as it was, nothing was penetrating the wall she had erected. I refuse to move from this spot, she thought callously, selfishly, if she would ever admit it.
She was deported into the inside of her mind, thrown back into the memories she refused to acknowledge. It couldn't've been her fault, even when she knew it had been. She'd been a terrible mother. Three years, a terrible guilt had grown and turned into a hard knot of anguish. She should be the one who died; she deserved to be the one in hell, not Gregory.
"What?" she snapped through the closed door. "What do you want from me Gregory?"
A mumbled response. "Nothing, never mind."
And then there was silence. A silence in the house that made her bones ache. If she closed her eyes and listened carefully she could hear it faintly. Games' laughter echoing in the halls, full of such joy. But she knew her husband was gone.
Shocked into reality, she startled from her reveries, looking into the wide blue eyes of one of the doctors. She didn't know why she was in here, but it was the only place that wouldn't mind another morbid inhabitant. "Yes, doctor?" she said quietly.
"You know how she died, Mrs. Sedino, why are you here?"
"I can't go home, Doctor."
"You have to go home, Mrs. Sedino."
"Stop calling me that." She snapped irritably, lowering her knee and crossed her ankles daintily, hands wrestling together.
"Its Ms. Frutone," she said seething. She didn't deserve to be called by her husband's name; she had failed them.
The doctor had been in the business a while now, in fact it would be his 15th year this year, and he knew when to yield to another's whim. "Ms. Frutone." He said quietly. "You need to go home. There is nothing you can do here. There is nothing any of us can do here."
Coughing into her hand, Cassandra looked up at the doctor. She gathered her courage – courage she hadn't been able to muster the last time she was in this chair. "How did he – " she stopped, voice breaking, tears welling in her eyes. Coughing again, clearing her throat and lifted her eyes to his again. "H-how… did he die? Freddie I mean." She asked. She still wasn't ready to know exactly what killed Games. There had been so much blood she didn't dare ask.
There was sadness in the doctor's eyes as he looked at her, compassion filling those blue orbs. "Come with me, Ms. Frutone."
She stood up shakily, head turning slightly at a strangled cry, but a nurse was hovering over the patient and there were more important matters to discuss at the moment. Lifting her skirts lightly, she followed the doctor, heart racing. She wished she had had the courage to do the same with Games as she was doing with Freddie.
They wove down the white hallways and all that Cassandra could see were the people crying their broken hearts out, murmuring quietly beloveds' bed. Her eyes were glued to the wives who wept openly over their husbands, clutching at their hands, smiling despite the hurt evident in their body as they huddled in that one moment where their beloved would smile back, and reassure them, reminding them of better times.
Odd how it was always the sick and dying that comforted the living, and not the other way around. There was a lump the size of Texas stuck in Cassandra's throat as she passed by room after room of sorrow and despair, her own eyes reflecting her own pain.
There was one woman there who met her eyes and managed to smile, sparing such kindness on a stranger while everything looked to be crumbling. Such strength she saw in that hospital. Such perseverance, and she saw in herself the cowardice, the weakness, the absolute failure of a mother, of a wife she had been.
Still, she would continue on. She would survive and move on through life.
That was the strength she did not see in herself; she would survive far longer than anyone who came to her, for they were drawn to that soul, to that humbled spirit that was aflame with life, and cast long shadows in the night.
"Ms. Frutone, perhaps you should sit down."
Blinking, she realized she had walked through into one of the backrooms. The stench was overwhelming and she raised her arm to cover her mouth, her nose. "What –?" she managed weakly looking at the doctor in shock.
The dead were in this room.
"Look here, Ms. Frutone." And the Doctor in one gesture broke at least eight laws. He lifted the sheet that covered one of the bodies on the table, to reveal Freddie's torn and bruised body.
Her gasp echoed, and bounced back as she began to hyperventilate, her fist stuffed in her mouth. "Doctor!" she yelled, cowering away.
"Ms. Frutone, please, calm down." He said, blue eyes boring into hers. "The accident did not kill him, it was an animal that did him in," he pointed toward the neck where it had been ravaged." His stare intensified.
"Did the Kibbersmars have a dog?"
Shaking her head mutely, she swallowed thickly. "N-no, doctor. They never did have a dog. Ever." Then she cocked her head, "well once, for about a week a few years ago."
Eyes narrowing, he only grunted. "From what the forensic team tells me, this wound here," he traced the ravaged skin with a gloved pinky, "was dealt prior to these," he indicated Freddie's stomach and bruises, the skin stiff against his fingers. Cassandra knew she was going to lose whatever food she had had if he didn't stop that soon. "Yet the curious thing is none of these killed him, Ms. Frutone."
She blinked, wondering how such fatal wounds were not the cause of his death. "What do you mean?" she asked quietly, rubbing her arms, voice breathy.
"Don't misunderstand me, Ms. Frutone. They would have killed him eventually, but it would have been a very slow death and by that time EMS might have been able to save him." He was looking at her, trying to make her understand the implications of this. "These wounds here aren't what killed Mr. Kibbersmar." He repeated it bluntly trying to penetrate her shock. Then he continued, "Four neat incisors, here, and here." he said pointing to two puncture wounds, two on each side of his spine, on his neck, "are what killed him. It was like some beast came over and bit him precisely right here." he used his two hands to simulate what the jaw of the beast did. His pointer and middle fingers on each hand acted as the fangs as he closed his hands around the dead man's neck, his conjoined wrists touching the ravaged flesh of Freddie's surface neck, "See how odd?" he asked.
He sounded excited, or curious.
Cassandra was three seconds from puking all over the clean floor, her eyesight was getting fuzzy and she could barely stand straight.
He looked up at her unperturbed, "so you see? It was as if this thing was in his car, bit him and then he must have done something. Pulled over rather quickly? Swerved? Pressed the breaks? Whatever it was, he ended up on the side of the road – was the truck tipped?"
Cassandra blinked, her blurry vision coming into focus. He was talking to her she realized. Coughing as delicately into her hand as she could she said, "I … don't know. I never did get to find out before Louisa …" she blinked back sudden tears. "Before … before Louisa…"
"Before she committed suicide."
Her head jerked up at his blatancy.
"Either way, was it another animal that hurt him? Or… was there no animal to begin with and some type of projectile flew through the window and hit him in the neck like so?"
He shrugged, as if it didn't matter either way.
"And Louisa?" she managed to croak.
"Ms. Frutone." The doctor said trying for bedside manners and failing. "She jumped out her window, that was no accident, you said so yourself."
Cassandra could see Louisa smiling as she took that extra step out the window and she could imagine that momentary panic and pain as she was impaled before blessed darkness took her to her beloved. How tragically romantic. Everything swirled most uncomfortably.
"Put your head between your knees, Ms. Frutone."
Startled, Cassandra realized she was sitting down outside of the room, the door locked and sealed from any but personnel. She felt her stomach heave upward and whined deep in her throat as what meager food was left in her stomach pushed itself up her throat. Clutching her stomach she heaved, emptying her stomach completely.
"You'll feel better once it passes."
Cassandra could only moan.
"You should go home."
She nodded. Yes, home sounded really good to her right now.