“Waiting On the Other Side, 3”

by Brianna G. Harte

I turned away, wishing to erase his words from my mind. I wished that his words did not strike me. My little boy . . .

“You don’t know me,” I murmured. “Maybe I have gotten a little banged up before I came to the hospital, but I’m still here.”

The man sighed, carefully placing the mirror upon the small, thinly clothed bed encased in plastic. A hand hovered over toward a hard plastic cylinder standing upon a side table of oak and stopped. “You know, I’ve been denying that I’ve had a problem for six years. Kept on telling myself that everything was fine. But you know what? Trying to ignore the fact that I was hearing voices, that when I was in a shipyard, I saw a girl shimmering in the sunset. They were harmless, after all. This wasn’t always the case. I was beginning to get confused on what was real and what wasn’t. Conversations I had with relatives would be curtailed because I was convinced that something else was there. Eventually, family took me to the hospital. Turned out I was schizophrenic. They’ve been watching me constantly so that I wouldn’t do something I would regret. You know, I think we all have to face the reality sometime. What do you say?”

The man extended his veiny, strong hand out to me. A calm, weary face looked at me. The story must have drained him, to recount what had to happen all over again.

I sighed and brought forth my own hand, frail in comparison to his. As soon as I touched it, every bit of me shuddered, starting from my hand which disappeared beneath his own. Only the back of my hand onward could be seen. The man’s own seemed fairly solid. Mine, well it was as though it had become air. As I withdrew, I could not feel his hand at all.

With a hand upon my forehead, I backed up against a wall. Pain could not take residence within my brain. And yet, emptiness could.

“Now you see?” The man’s voice was so calm, and yet, I began to panic.

“If I’m dead, oh no. Oh goodness. What if he went after . . .?” I couldn’t finish.

Shortly after, I fell straight through the wall. Again, a shock ran throughout my frame. I had to ignore it. Eyes wide, fear struck. I began to run through the wall out into the hallway toward where I laid down before. Every ounce of me quivered, from passing through countless people or from what I hoped not to find, I could not tell. The hallways blurred. I only halted when I reached the emergency room. All but two beds were full. A couple children were amongst those looking either rather bored or nervous. Relief washed away worry slowly upon realizing that my little boy did not join them.

Turning toward my own bed forced me backward. A lifeless body in a white blouse doused in crimson originating at the stomach lay there. Bruises collected at the neck and face. Dried and tangled strawberry blonde hair fell across the thin pillow holding up a head to never move again. A living woman in dark jeans, a pink shirt beneath a maroon jacket and bright scarf sat by the bed. Her hair, while held in a neat bun, matched my own. Hands buried her face. I wanted to hug her, to tell her I was fine. But no. As far as I knew, she would never hear me again.

Copyright © 2016 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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