Cervical Fracture

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A father is having a hard time coping with his son's bed-ridden and vegetative state. A surprise visit might change everything.

Submitted: May 05, 2016

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Submitted: May 05, 2016

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The room is too white. The cabinets are too gray. The motivational poster, well, it’s just not quite in stride with the other aspects of the room. It is so out of place. I mean people come into this room with severe, critical issues and there is a picture of a waterfall with the definition of strength below it.

I start to cry, sob actually. The pain, that reoccurring migraine is creeping up my neck, splitting through the top of my skull, and landing right in my forehead.

I am looking at the white wall, but when I try to take a look at the jar filled with q-tips, there is nothing there. All I can see is a white wall. The doctor’s voice slurs words, but he is just a white wall too. I blink once.

When I open my eyes I am staring at a paneled ceiling. It is white, but there are breaks in the color; the white is broken up into rectangular segments. I look to my left and there is a yellow mop bucket. The contents of my stomach fill it about halfway. A thin layer of salt has dried around my eyes.

A nurse stops her brisk pace through the hallway and peaks her pony-tailed head in the door. “Mr. Wood, How ya doin there?” A pitiful smile is frozen on her face.

“My head fucking hurts.”

“Well just make sure you move slowly and drink a lot of water, your son is still in the other room.”

No shit he’s still in the other room. He hasn’t moved in almost 3 years. Who knew that one fragile bone in your neck could shut down the rest of your body? Well that and severe blunt trauma to the head, but that one is more obvious. He doesn’t even know he is alive, and frankly I’m just aware of his life as he is. Damnit, now I’m crying. Just please don’t let that hot nurse see me like this. She already had to see me faint and vomit my burrito into soapy mop water.

I stagger down the brightly lit hallway and make my way back to my son’s room. Doctor Rivera is in there. I wonder what he’s writing down: “day 876, yep, Tony is still a vegetable.” He turns around and sees me hunched over at the door.

“Hey there champ,” He says, “You feeling a little better?”

“Never been better doc.”

“Great, yeah great. I was just checking in on Tony here, but I’ll leave you two alone.”

“Thanks doc, tell Nurse Beth I say hi,” he’s already out of the room, but I still enjoy a sad laugh to myself. I notice that there is still dried vomit all over my shirt. I don’t even bother to grab a wet paper towel and dab it off. Instead I take my seat next to my son. The nice thing about being in this room so often is that the chair is formed perfectly to my ass. You always have to look at the positives.

Two weeks ago the doctor said that Tony’s face twitched in a certain way that wasn’t normal. They didn’t know what to make of it, but ever since then I have found myself constantly surveying his face. What I have come to realize is that I have seen open-casket funerals with faces more alive than his. I kiss his warm forehead to remind myself that he is still alive, or whatever alive can mean while being hooked up to these machines.

Again I am staring at the grey cabinets with their polished steel handles. This is interrupted by a sudden crash against the outside window. In one motion I am to my feet and jogging to where the sound came from. For some reason I am out of breath, but upon looking outside I see a crow sprawled out among the dirt and low shrubs. I take off down the hallway, pass a couple of nurses, and shoot out of the front door. I never looked back.

Outside, the crow is still there on the ground, right below my son’s window. I have never seen one of these birds up close. I have only ever heard their squawks from a distance. I was surprised by the bird’s size; they are much larger than I would have imagined. Its wingspan could have stretched to about the size of my torso. While I was contemplating the size of this bird, it shifted on the ground and changed positions. In this new position I could tell that the bird’s neck was broken. Its wings attempted to flutter, but the motion was merely a twitch of the feathers. The poor animal’s chest heaved every other second. The whole bird was quivering now. One of its eyes was open, and it was looking right at me. “Save me,” his eye said.

My stomach started to churn again, I took a step back. About fifteen feet away from the window I could see my son lying down. My head felt like it was floating. I rubbed my eyes and blinked once; when my vision cleared the bed was empty. I took a look down at the crow, who was still twitching, and back up to my son who now occupied the bed again. Bent at the waist my hand scanned the dirt where the crow lied. A cold, rough surface interrupted the dirt and leaves. A rock, a beautiful grey rock that fit perfectly into the palm of my hand.

When I stood up my son’s bed was empty again. With tears in my eyes I let the rock fall right into the crow’s chest. The rock penetrated the bird four separate times. A pile of blood and feathers were what remained of the crow. The area was completely still.

This is what freedom must look like.


© Copyright 2020 Ryder A. Logan. All rights reserved.

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