A car accident. I swerved to avoid something and struck a lamppost. My last snapshot was from the driver’s seat amidst the mangled wreckage. Someone approached me through the haze.
I didn’t feel right. I clutched at the sheets and whipped them backwards. My left leg intact, toes wiggling, but my right leg missing from the knee down.
My brain told me that my toes were moving but my eyes refused to agree. The wound was bandaged but the sensation put the leg back in place. No, no, no, no, it couldn’t be. I wept, wept like I’ve never wept before or since.
I was now incomplete, this stupid, useless stump staring back at me from the mattress. My life until that point had been pointless and a wave of depression swept over me as I lay there.
And I lay there for a while, just gaping at the place where a part of me used to be. My personal sacrifices, parents who loved me but wanted me to be the academic type I didn’t have the brains to ever be, friends who tired of how much of a bore I was on a sober night out, girlfriends who just got tired of my schedule. It was all for something, I thought. It wasn’t. I had been in a pursuit of nothing. Fucking loser, you wasted your life.
I looked down the right leg and still held out hope that it would run all the way to the end of my toes. But it stopped at the knee again and again until I tried to shake some sense into my head and figure out what I was going to do next.
Rather than attempt to hobble over to the door, I decided to call for help. I yelled for a nurse, I begged for a doctor and sobbed wearily once again when there was no response. I figured that wards usually have an emergency button and, sure, a red plunger was plugged into the wall behind the headboard. I swung around, slowly, and thumped the button over and over and over. No light flashed, no noise sounded, not much of anything happened.
Then I heard rustling. Faint as first, distant, not a voice, but a shuffling, someone walking slowly, very slowly, seemingly in no hurry to be anywhere or to help anyone. It may seem obvious with a few years of NZ behind us to say that I should have known it was one of them and to keep my mouth shut, but….
There was a thump against the glass, from the right hand side, about ten feet from me. The window was maybe slightly longer than the hospital bed and the curtain drawn over in front opened from right to left. The material was also thick enough to ensure I couldn’t make out an outline or shadow. A moan escaped from whomever or whatever resided on the other side.
Another thump came from the same corner with the same subsequent moan. I remained still and tried to think as normally as I could; a staff nurse nudging a bed against the glass in error on the way past, perhaps… but twice, in the space of ten seconds?
A third thump on the glass, a fourth, a fifth, a six in rapid succession. My heart was beating from inside my mouth, my mind over-accentuating the noise of my minor shifts along the mattress.
There was nothing near the window that I could use to balance on, so I rolled myself off the bottom of the bed and planted my only foot to the floor, facing away from the moaning behind the curtain. I knew my body pretty well, when to go hard in training and when to relax. I had nothing in me at that moment, but it didn’t matter; I couldn’t lie down again and pretend everything was ok.