[Editor's Note: Jack Grisham is an author, hypnotherapist, T.S.O.L. front man and all-around troublemaker. This column, True Story, may or may not be factual, with characters who may or may not be real.]
Her soft staccato steps proclaimed the intrusion of her arrival, and laying in my bed and silent in this room, my heart echoed her approach. I was not alone. There were others here. I could hear their cries, their bed sheets moving like infant sails unfurled in sterile hospital air. But she wasn't here for them; it was me she sought. I lay vulnerable on my bed, my hands clenched, my eyes swollen shut, unaccustomed to the light. The door opened, and the noise agitated those who lay around me. They screamed and would not be still, and I had not the words to reprimand or comfort them--I was as much a visitor as they were, but I fought to remain as I was.
Struggling, I became caught in their need, and then I, too, wailed as they did. Despite her absence of perfume, I could smell her as she walked toward me; the scent of another man swam upon her clothes--he smoked, and the acrid smell of his sweat carried the scent of dead flesh. She reached for me. I did nothing to accommodate her touch. She wasn't mine--never was, never will be. The door opened again. A heavy male presence filled the room.
The others grew silent.
"Have you been able to make contact with him?" he asked. "No," she said.
The male touched my cheek. His hands smelled of iodine and traces of alcohol--non-medicinal. He used his thumb and forefinger to open my right eye. "The nurse said he had his eyes open earlier, but she also said that he refused to look at her."
"Is he healthy?" she asked.
"His eyes, yes; he can see. But this non-communication is something that goes deeper, almost a defiance against life."
She gently removed the blanket from me, and instinctively, I sought the warmth of my own body.
"See how he withdraws?" the man asked. "He can hear, and he can see, but he's refusing food." The woman placed her hand on my forehead. She leaned toward me and a tear fell from her eyes and landed on my lips--the taste of disheartened salt water filled my mouth. It sickened me.
"I never should have come here," I thought. "I wasn't ready."
"Is there anything you can do?" she asked him.
"We're planning on force feeding him, but it will only go so far. If he refuses to live, there's just not much we can do for him."
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I felt his presence exit the room, the door opening and closing, the footsteps fading purposely away. I felt her breath against my face--her voice whisper-close.
"Your mother loves you, baby, but I'm going to let you go. I'm sorry for bringing you into a world that you don't want to live in." She took the small blanket I had been wrapped in and held it over my face. I inhaled the cloth. She could have other children.