The time Machine

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Billy Samuels is getting ignored by his parents, and he wants to escape. But he could not have anticipated what happened both instantly and overtime.

Submitted: September 10, 2015

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Submitted: September 10, 2015

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Billy Samuels sat on the edge of his bed and said nothing. He said nothing because he was angry. He hated it. He hated his life: his parents, his teachers, everything. It seemed impossible that everything was ruined in just ten short years, but to Billy, nothing worse could have happened. He just couldn’t bear it under the stress of his everyday life anymore. The teachers at school didn’t care if Thomas “The Tank” Scotts took his lunch or beat him up like he did almost everyday. It was always: “You just need to try to understand his point of view,” or: “He just doesn't know how to express his feelings,” or even: “Don’t you think you’re overreacting, Billy?” Maybe he wasn't smart, but he was pretty sure that the constant bruising and swelling all over his body meant that he wasn’t overreacting. Even though his bruises, cuts, and scrapes were easily spotted, Mommy and Daddy never said anything about it; he was pretty sure it was because they hadn’t noticed once during the past year since Thomas moved to town.

He was sick of his parents being too absorbed in his new baby sister, Gabriella. Every second of the day, and most seconds of the night, they were right there heeding her every call; but when Billy needed something, would his parents come to his aid? Of course not, they had to take care of Gabriella’s precious diaper. It seemed like the only time they paid any attention to Billy was when he brought home a bad report card, which was often. Every time he asked for help with something, they always said they were too busy, and that he’d have to try to work through it on his own for a while longer until his three month old pain of a sister was satisfied. What’s more, they took away his allowance because suddenly money was “tight”; he didn’t know what that meant exactly, but he was pretty sure it was parent code for ‘we think the baby is more important’.

  On top of that, he had nobody to talk to about all of this. The fifth grader always heard all the other students talk about what they did with their best friends over the weekends, but to be honest, he had no idea what it was like. He’d never had many friends, let alone a best friend. The previous year he had James Freeman as his only friend; however, James met a girl over the summer and hadn’t talked to Billy since. Only one other person had he ever considered his friend, Sammy White, but she had moved away when they were in the second grade. They said they’d keep in touch, but in truth, he hadn’t even sent her one letter or even an email. Considering he hadn’t received any either, he figured their friendship was pretty much over. 

Everything was just too much. Even before his parents told him he’d have a baby sister, a few weeks before he began to notice the increasing size of Mommy’s belly, he knew something was different, but he didn’t know what pregnancy was or where babies came from at the time. Now, looking back, he saw how all the pieces fit together: Mommy and Daddy wanted a replacement for their firstborn failure, soon after that, they ordered a new baby or whatever. They probably specifically asked for a girl so they could see if a girl would turn out better. He couldn’t deal with it; he needed an escape. What he needed was a time machine. Something to take him away from this place that only barely qualified as a home. He could go to the past, maybe try to persuade Sammy not to move away, or James not to start liking that girl. Maybe then he’d have two friends instead of none.  Or maybe into the future; in the future, it’d be better. His parents would be able to raise their long lost son, who disappeared twenty years ago, and who mysteriously came back to them, still ten years old. They’d raise him and care for him like they did before Gabriella existed with vigor and happiness. That was another bonus; Gabriella would be long gone for college by then, so Mommy and Daddy’s full attention would be on him. 

As he thought about all the wondrous possibilities, he felt his stomach, which responded with a light squirm of digestion. He quickly regretted not eating his salad that came with his small steak at dinner as he apparently was still hungry. ‘Good thing I snuck some pudding cups in here’ he thought to himself. He quickly scavenged them from his hiding place, under his pillow, along with a white plastic spoon. Quickly, he demolished all three chocolate flavored cups and tossed the refuse into a nearby bin. A quick yawn revealed to him just how tired he really was, so he started his nightly rituals. He took all his clothes off, bundled them up into a misshapen ball and shot it like a basketball towards the nearly empty hamper. He missed, he almost always missed, but he left them there. The growing pile was only a few days old and Billy would pick them up and put them in the receptacle sooner or later… probably. Then he opened a drawer, which contained his jammies. He slipped the soft shirt and pants over his naked body, covering his petite underdeveloped body with race cars flying across the 4’3” track and padded his bare feet to the bathroom. Using the toilet one last time, he thought more still about what he would do with his time machine. Once he had finished, he flushed and went to the sink. 

From the cabinet he grabbed his blue toothbrush. He wet the bristles and reached for the crinkled toothpaste tube; he started brushing back and forth, up and down, singing a song in his head. He bobbed his head to the imaginary music, though he realized that lately his bob has been halfhearted. He stayed his head, but the song continued on. When he was satisfied that every inch was clean with minty plaque fighting goodness, he spat, rinsed, and put the brush and paste away. As he closed the mirrored cabinet door, he looked at the reflection shown. He reversed the direction of the mirror and swung it back open. He repeated that process several times, back and forth; he always liked how the mirror looked as he swung it on the hinges. It didn’t look like he was swinging the mirror, basically a piece of polished glass, rather like he was swinging the reflection, a portal into another world where everything was backwards. He knew the mirror only showed a two dimensional reproduction of the real thing, but sometimes that mirror world looked as real as the world around him. After quite a while, he fully closed the mirrored door and left it that way. Finally, he went back into his room and practically leaped onto his bed. 

One last step remained: he stood up on the wobbly surface and began jumping. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Each time he jumped he lightly slapped the ceiling of his room, leaving little white pieces of the ceiling to fall onto his bed which he expertly reached down and wiped onto the floor. When he first added this step to his nightly ceremonies he hadn’t known that the pieces would fall down; one of them landed right in his eye. He had immediately collapsed into a fetal position on the bed, groping at his eye trying to relieve the sharp stinging pain. It took several minutes even after he got it out before the stinging sensation subsided. He quickly learned to not stare directly under where his hand hit when he jumped. He almost didn’t do it ever again, but the way he saw it, the more he jumped upward and the higher he reached when he did so, the more he could convince his body he wanted to be taller; it was silly, he knew, but it became part of his routine and he wasn’t going to change it any time soon, just in case it somehow actually paid off.

Diving under the dark blue Star Wars themed covers, Billy situated himself to be as comfortable as possible for the night’s sleep: pillow supporting his neck more than his head, right arm under his pillow, left hand near his face. His legs curled up about halfway to his stomach, he staggered his legs so that his knees and ankles weren't on top of each other. Billy let his mind wander then, wondering what new adventures his mind would take him to tonight; he often dreamed crazy and marvelous things. The only thought that entered his mind, however, was the idea of a time machine. The places he would go, the things he would do, and the people he would meet. He laughed and said out loud “OK, no more Doctor Who before bed for you.” Yawning again, he tried his best to let sleep overtake him. It was a school night, best to get some sleep before he had to get beaten up again. He briefly wondered if he would dream he was the Doctor, going across the galaxy and saving people in his amazing blue box. No sooner than he thought that had he fallen to sleep.

~~~(\\/)~~~

Billy woke up gradually; it felt like his brain was systematically turning his body back on. First his ears: he became conscious of the sounds around him, though he didn’t focus on them. They were distant, unconnected to his surroundings. Next his sense of touch: he felt the fabric on his skin and the pillow under his head; he realized he wasn’t laying on his side like he usually slept, but on his back. Finally his eyes gave up on staying asleep and opened slower than a castle lowers a drawbridge: his eyes were flooded with light and it was slightly disorientating at first. This wasn’t usually how he would wake up; normally he’d hear his mother shouting at him to get up and get ready for school, thus abruptly ruining the delicacy of sleep. He heard no shouting, however, which was odd. Then he decided to get up, or rather his bladder decided that for him. He tried to pull the covers off of his bed like he did every morning, but they wouldn’t budge. It felt as though the white sheets were made out of lead, though they still felt soft to the touch. With a tremendous amount of strength and effort, he wrestled the sheets off of his body, and then he swung his legs over the side and jumped off the bed in one fluid motion.

Instead of landing on his feet like he always did, he landed on the side of his right ankle. Before he could even acknowledge the pain, his legs gave out from under him, like the time he tried to walk after riding his bike for four hours straight. He fell to the floor, banging his head against a chair on the way down. The metal chair made a loud clanging sound as it bounced twice on the floor and skittered to a halt. The pain in his ankle became apparent along with the growing bump on his head. The pain was intense, way worse than any of the beatings he received from Thomas Scotts. Trying to assess the damage, Billy slowly reached down and lightly touched his ankle. That was a mistake; the pain instantly became worse, even as he snapped his hand back in surprise. He had never broken any of his bones before, but he was sure that’s what had happened to his ankle. He tried calling out for help.

“Mommy? Da--” He stopped. He used his voice again. “Mom?” His voice was gruff and deep. That wasn’t his voice. His voice was higher and clearer, much closer to Mommy’s voice; but the sounds coming out of his mouth sounded a little like when Daddy spoke. He looked down at his aching joint; it was twisted at an off angle, which prompted him to confirm his previous diagnosis. He looked at his legs next; they were skinny, like they always had been, but they were long, much longer than they were last night. And they had hair on them, lots of it. It was a dark brown hair that matched the hair on his head. Suddenly he realized that he wasn’t in his jammies, he was in some sort of blue dress that didn’t close in the back. He began to feel frightened, and as he did, he didn’t have to use the bathroom anymore; he looked around the room, realizing it was not his room. It was a white room, not covered with the dinosaur wallpaper of Billy’s room. There were several other beds in the room along with his; most of them were empty, but some of them had other people sleeping in them. ‘Where the heck am I?’ He wondered. Just then a woman wearing a pink outfit came into the room with a tray of something. It wasn’t Mommy. Instantly, he was scared and cried out. She gasped and almost dropped the tray, scattering some of the various objects as she did so, when she saw him looking at her in terror. She only paused slightly before setting the tray down with her shaking hands and ran out of the room.

Billy tried to put that short encounter out of his mind as he unsuccessfully attempted to hoist himself up onto the foreign bed, carefully keeping his weight off his ankle. Even though it didn’t seem that high up, his strength failed him quickly and he flopped his useless arms down in despair. It was then that he realized how much longer his arms were as well; they had the same dark brown hair that his legs did, though not as much of it. This was not his body; he had the sickening image of someone snatching his brain out of his body in the night and putting it in the body he saw. Another wave of fear rolled through his body. He kept trying to get back up on the bed until he was breathing hard and sweating. Suddenly, three men with kind faces came into the room with the woman he’d seen earlier. He did not trust they’re kind faces; they bent down and reached toward him, he shied away the best he could, but there was no place to hide. They gingerly helped Billy back onto the bed and told him to try not to move. The men in white each started to do different things. One went to pick up some of the things that had fallen off the silver tray the woman was carrying. Another adjusted some pillows behind Billy and asked if he was comfy. One of them carefully inspected his ankle, which was starting to swell up. He decided they meant him no harm, but he wasn’t sure. Billy turned to the woman to see if he could get confirmation. He was never good at reading emotions, but the excitement and delight showed clear on her face.

“Where’s Mommy?”

“She’s coming Billy, just sit tight.” How did she know my name? He thought. He was about to ask her about that when one of the burly men inserted a needle of some kind into his leg, just above the throbbing ankle.

“OW!” He screamed in that deep voice that was definitely not the voice of the ten-year-old boy he knew himself to be. Billy was about to try to get up and riot against the men who he thought were here to help, but before he could, the woman grasped his hand and squeezed gently.

“It’s OK, Billy, he’s just sedating your ankle. That way you won’t feel anything while they fix it.” He realized she was right, as the pain went away slowly, and before long, he couldn’t feel it at all. “See? Everything’s all right.” She must have saw the confusion and terror in his eyes. She righted and sat in the chair that Billy had knocked over during his pitiful attempt of getting out of bed. “Do you know where you are?”

He shook his head. She bit her lip. A hopeful expression showed on her face as she asked her next question.

“Do you know who I am?”

He shook his head a bit slower this time. This had quite the effect on the mysterious woman, as though he were supposed to know her. She turned her head to the side, though Billy could see a tear descend from the eye closest to him. She regained her composure, however, and wiped her eyes and turned back to him. She blew out a breath as though she had been holding it underwater for the longest time. 

“My name Is Gabriella.” She looked hopefully at him, pleading, almost willing him to understand.

“My sister’s name is Gabriella.” He said absently, he was feeling exhausted from the exertion of the events. What was going on?

“Billy, I am your sister.”

It took him a while, but the recognition of what she had said finally sank in. “Wha-what?” That was impossible, Gabriella was a baby, he was ten, and nothing was making sense. “No, you’re not, you’re lying! Where’s my mommy?”

“She’s coming,” the lady said sadly, “just rest for now, you’ve been asleep for a long time.”

He stared at her, trying to understand. “I-I overslept? I have to go to school.” He just could not wrap his head around anything. Lovingly, she reached out and took Billy’s hand again. He was so scared, but he was too tired to move his arm away.

“Billy, do you know what a coma is?” Billy shook his head. “It’s where somebody goes to sleep for a really long time, and we can’t wake them up.”

Billy was confused, “What does that have to do with me?” Then he realized what she had said. “I was having a coma?” The woman named Gabriella nodded, he still wasn’t ready to accept that she was his baby sister. His head began to swirl, this was crazy, way crazier than any dream he had ever come up with. He squeezed his eyes shut, so hard they hurt. He felt ‘Gabriella’ stroking his hand and tried to squirm away again but it was no use. He opened his eyes and looked down to where the man working on his ankle was spraying something around it. Billy felt it harden instantly keeping his ankle straight. He realized it was a cast, but casts were supposed to be wrapped around the area with a special kind of fabric or something, not that foaming stuff from a can. Just another mystery to figure out; but that one would have to wait as he needed to figure out who this woman really was.

Billy looked at the young woman; she was probably in her late teens or early twenties he decided. The pink shirt and pants did little to flatter the body beneath, but he could tell from her arms that she was thin and tan. After a long moment, he finally spoke.

“You’re not my sister. My sister is a baby, only three months old.”

The woman stared in confusion for a second before her expression changed to one of…amusement? Was she laughing at him? Not quite, but she definitely smiled an almost condescending smile, like what his teachers always use when he said something stupid in class. 

“Like I said, Billy, you’ve been asleep for a long time.”

He stared at her, fear growing in his eyes, “How long?”

She hesitated, as if she wasn’t sure if she should say. He repeated the question.

“How long?”

‘Gabriella’ still didn’t say anything. Instead, she was looking at the wall, the ceiling, out the window, anywhere but at Billy.

“How long was I having the coma?” It was more demand than question and made the woman jump a little, it even made Billy jump a little bit. She closed her eyes and sucked in a deep breath before speaking hesitantly. 

“You were in a coma for about 23 years.”

The words echoed in his head for a while. They filled his mind, consumed him. For a few brief seconds they were all he could think about. 

You were in a coma for about 23 years.

He closed his eyes to try to concentrate; if he could raise his arms to rub his eyes he would have. Then, his mind slipped back into the subconscious void as he feinted from exhaustion.

~~~(\\/)~~~

This wasn't supposed to happen. He tried to figure out how an extravagant event such as this could have occurred. Sitting quietly in the room alone, Billy swallowed the lump in his throat. He wiped away the tears before they glistened down his face and sniffed back the liquid in his nose. Billy took a deep breath and he heard again when he blew the shaky shuddering air back out. The deeper tone and quality that was his voice; how could his breathing even sound different. It was too much to take. 

When he awoke from passing out, his hand was being held by somebody sitting in the chair next to his bed. Mommy. He recognized the face, though noticeably different. Her face had many lines, much more than before and the color of her hair was now a bright fiery red. That was weird, mommy's hair had always been blonde. However, it wasn't her hair that he noticed first; it was her eyes. They were shimmering so brightly, the tears greatly reflecting the white lights of the room, it was hard to see the color of the irises. Billy thought for a second she was sad and distraught before a single tear escaped down her cheek. He tracked it as it rolled down and landed in the widest and most genuine smile he had ever seen. It sent a shiver of relaxation and happiness throughout him, leaving his entire body tingling. He saw a man's firm hand on her shoulder, he followed the arm up towards the connecting body with his eyes, he felt like he should be able to focus on more than just the arm but somehow he couldn't. When his eyes finally took in the face of the man he felt instantly safe and secure, just like Daddy always made sure he felt when the ghosts in his closet wouldn't keep quiet. Daddy looked older, of course, but not as different as mommy; his hair was different too, not red but grey, and there was less of it. 

He began crying before he even knew he was, when he felt the tears leave his eyes he began sobbing uncontrollably. Mommy shifted out of the chair and sat next to him on his bed. She let go of his hand only to wrap him in her arms and cradle his head. Daddy dropped to his knees and wrapped his long muscular arms around both of them. They stayed like that for several minutes, mother, father, son. Nobody held back the tears anymore, nothing was said save for Mommy's soft shushing. 

The crying and sobs didn't last forever; when Billy reckoned he could keep his composure somewhat, he leaned back on the bed. His parents took their cue and broke their embrace, though Daddy took his wife's hand in both of his, and Mommy took her other hand and squeezed her son's hand so hard it almost hurt. Billy didn't care, he still didn't really know what was going on. He wanted her to never let go. He looked from one loving face to another; still nobody said a word, he didn't know what to say, but he had to say something. So he cleared his throat and said the first thing he could think of. 

"Hi." It surprised him at first, his new voice. He wanted his old voice back, his voice. The one that he heard in his head. 

Nevertheless his parents saw him no different. To them he was still ten years old, not thirty-three. They cooed over him almost like how they cooed over baby Gabriella, just like he wanted when he was ten. They began talking about how they were so scared when he wouldn't wake up for school; and how they were so relieved when Gabriella called them and said Billy had woken up. When they got there he was sleeping, but only for a few hours this time. Now all their attention was on him, just like he wanted when he was ten. 

Just like he wanted. 

Just like he wanted.   

Billy was grateful for his parents company, but that singular thought crept into his happiness. It started in his chest, a tiny needle that punctured his chest and slowly deflated it. That's what it felt like anyway; that sunken feeling started to spread to his stomach. He looked at Mommy, at Daddy. They were so happy to have their son back, he didn't want them to see him like this. He cautiously asked them if he could have some time to himself, he wasn't sure how they were going to react. They shared a worried look for a second, but it soon passed to make way for a look of solemn understanding. Fortunately, they seemed to comprehend the want and left him to his own devices, making sure he knew they'd only be outside if he should need them, and the button by his bed would notify them to come in. 

So he sat alone in his room, he cried for the second time that day. He remembered what he thought about last night-- not last night, that night twenty three years ago. He wished he could travel through the future where Gabriella was all grown up so Mommy and Daddy would focus on him. Billy wanted this. He made it happen. It was his fault. Well he didn't want it anymore. He would have traded his entire comic book collection if he could go back to being ten. If only he could travel back in time the same way he traveled forward; Billy squeezed his eyes shut as hard as he could in hopes he would fall asleep and be transported back to his correct age. It was irrational, he knew; just like jumping on the bed every night, he knew it would never work. He snapped his eyes back open in frustration. This was awful. He hated how he didn’t recognize his own voice; he hated how his legs and arms felt so weak that he could hardly lift them up; he hated the hair that seemed to invade his entire body. Nothing made sense anymore, but it was his life now. Billy was going to have to make some sense out of it.

Once he felt as though he was done crying, he wiped his tears away the best that he could; it was still extremely hard to move his arms. He didn’t completely understand why, although he recognized that he hadn’t used any muscles in over two decades. Eyes and face now dry, he stretched his arm out towards the button, but it seemed like a mile away. Still, he had to push himself he kept stretching; a bead of sweat rolled down his forehead and slipped into the corner of his left eye. The salty liquid stung a little, but it rolled down his cheek soon after, following the same path the tears did just a few minutes ago. Only a few more inches to go, he couldn’t hold his arm up anymore. He let it drop to the bed and leaned. He watched his arm slide across the sheets in front of him, leading the way. It reminded him of the time he tried to reach his book on the nightstand in his bedroom from his bed; it would’ve been much easier to get up and walk over to it but that wasn’t the point. Now, he wished he had the option to move his body closer to his goal instead of reaching.

Finally, his outstretched hand grasped the remote. There were three buttons, he didn’t know which one to press so he guessed the middle one. He must’ve guessed right because a few seconds later his parents came back into the immaculate room. The first thing they saw was their son lying on his side. They rushed over to him to sit him upright; Mommy positioned his pillows so he could sit with his back to the wall comfortably. Once Billy was in place, Mommy and Daddy both sat down in chairs next to him. He took a deep breath and looked at their faces; both were smiling and welcoming. It made him feel safe, trusted, and ready to ask what was happening to him.

“I don’t look the same anymore.” He tossed the opening remark out into the air. It wasn’t actually a question, but he meant it as one: Why don’t I look the same anymore. In reply, his parents looked at each other again, they were doing that a lot. After a few moments his dad broke eye contact with his spouse and turned to his confused son.

“This is what happens to boys when they get older, Billy.”

Billy frowned and furrowed his brow. “What do you mean?”

His father looked like he was trying to find the right words. “Well, when boys grow up they don’t stay small forever. Have you ever wondered why you were so small and I was so big?” Billy nodded. “I was just as small as you were once.”

“Really?!” Billy almost couldn’t believe it; his dad was huge like a mountain, there was no way he was ever less than five feet tall.

“It’s true,” Daddy confirmed, “but as I got older, I got taller, and my voice got deeper.” He cleared his throat to demonstrate. “It was up here.” The voice change threw Billy off for a second. It was so unexpected and odd to think that Daddy once had a voice just like Billy’s was. Despite everything, all the trauma and stress over the last few hours, Billy giggled; not the high pitched giggle he would always use when he was being tickled, but more of a low chuckle. He couldn’t help it. Daddy was always so funny. Why had he ever hated his life with him?

“The same thing happened to you: your voice got a lot deeper, you got as tall as me, and you grew hair. That happened to me too, you were just asleep the whole time.” The confused ten year old reflected on this for a minute. He never really thought about what happens when he gets older, and he never realized parents went through he same thing. Of course, he knew kids got older and grew into adults, but he never realized he himself would grow up at some point; nor that his parents ever had, because they were always grown up to him. It almost clicked for him then, he understood and recognized the physical changes that had transpired, but he didn’t comprehend everything.

“But, why does it happen?”

Daddy looked at him puzzlingly, “What do you mean?”

“Why is there hair everywhere and my voice changed? Why did it have to be different?”

“Well,” he began, “its just nature’s way of protecting you”

“Protecting me?”

“When humans are born, they are frail and weak; they need to be protected by their parents because they wouldn’t survive without them. Do you understand so far?” Billy nodded slowly, he knew what Daddy meant by ‘wouldn’t survive’. He knew about life and death, something he grasped at the age of seven; he was in the back seat of the car, Daddy was driving. He always looked out of the window when they went on the road. He liked how the pavement seemed to zoom by as though it was trying to escape from something, whereas the trees in the background took a much more lethargic route. Billy always pretended the trees were great lumbering giants and sometimes made a background story that explained why they were always going in the opposite direction of Billy. 

There weren't many trees along the road that day, it was closer to the city so most of them had been cut down. they were entering an intersection, but so was another car. Billy looked out the window, staring at the car coming quickly straight towards him. Daddy saw the car too. In a panic he made the car go a little faster, but not fast enough. As the fast car hit the back corner of his car, billy felt his forehead smack against the window; he kept his eyes open, he was so scared, he probably couldn’t close them if he tried. He saw the world in spirals, his face felt pinned against the window as the car spun out of control. Finally, the car stopped spinning as abruptly as it started. Billy was flung away from the window; when he was at last able to sit upright, he looked at Daddy and Mommy. Both were breathing hard. His dad looked back to make sure he was alright, then told him to stay in the car. The big man unbuckled his seatbelt, opened the door, stepped out, and slammed it behind him. Billy followed him with his eyes, turning his body in his seat so he could look out the back window of the grey car. There were big lines in it that weren't there before.

He saw Daddy practically run over to the other car, a black one. A bunch of other cars were stopped before the intersection, some crooked, some of the drivers had gotten out of their cars to see what had happened. The black car was upside down. When Daddy got to the side, he looked through the window. Billy saw him try the door, but it wouldn’t open. He saw his strong father rear back and kick at the window; once, twice, three times before his foot went through the glass. Billy watched in curiosity as he observed his dad reach into the car and exiting, with something in his arms. No, not something, someone. A small man, so Daddy had no problem pulling him. He placed the small man with is back on the ground. He couldn’t hear anything in the car, but he saw the man turn to the stopped cars and said something. Then, Daddy got down on his knees and started pushing up and down on the man.

“Billy, don’t look.” Mommy’s voice, quiet and shaken. Billy did not turn away. He didn’t know what it was called, but he knew people did that to other people in order to keep them alive from books and television. It was that moment, when he realized what happens when it doesn't work, when the characters in the tv show give up and leave the guy. He turned back around in his seat, and put his knees to his chest. That could have been me, he thought to himself as he heard the ambulances in the distance.

He understood that if babies weren't cared and protected they would die. That’s when he realized that Mommy and Daddy weren't ignoring him when he was ten; they were protecting Gabriella. That made him even feel worse about himself.

“Babies need protecting, children do too. Do you think adults need protecting?”

Billy thought about that for a while. “Aren’t adults doing all the protecting? Why would they need it?”

Daddy chuckled slightly. “Thats almost true, but adults need to keep themselves safe sometimes; there are mean people in the world who want to hurt you. And your body gets big and strong all on its own so you can defend yourself when you need to.” If only his body realized he needed to be bigger and stronger when Thomas was beating him everyday. “Also,” Daddy continued, “you have to be big and strong to protect your own babies and children. Am I making any sense to you, Billy?”

Billy nodded. “Yeah, i think so. Except, i don’t know how to get my own baby.” Daddy’s face turned a little white.

Daddy chuckled nervously. “That’s ok, Billy, you don’t need to have a baby right now. For now, we’ll just focus on the immediate future, ok?”

“Ok. I have another question.”

“You can ask me anything, Billy.”

“My body is supposed to be strong right? I can barely lift my arms up.”

The old man looked at his son with a pain of sympathy. “Muscles and strength come from using your muscles. The more you use them the stronger you get. You’ve been asleep for a long time, and you don’t move your muscles when you sleep. If you move muscles you get stronger, but if you don’t use them they cant get stronger, and they can get weaker.” Billy nodded. That was pretty much what he thought he just wanted to make sure. 

They talked for a long time after that, making sure Billy came to terms with the new reality of his life. He felt himself calming down, though the deflated feeling in his chest persisted. After a while, he heard a knock at the door. Both his father and he turned their heads to see a short man open the door and stride through with the confidence of two men. He was wearing one of those heart listening things around his neck. Billy saw Daddy stand up and address the man as ‘Doctor’. His greying cropped hair accentuated his thin face and physique. He and Daddy talked for a while, and then the older doctor stepped towards Billy and talked to him in a loud thick accent and a broad smile. 

“Billy! It is good seeing you awake! Did you enjoy the nap?” Billy just stared, he didn’t know this man. Why was he talking to him so familiarly. The man must have recognized his discomfort because he addressed himself then. “Excuses, my name is Dimitri Konstantinov. You call me Doctor Dimitri, much easier than Konstantinov. I have taken care of you for the last two years.” 

“Two years? what about the other twenty-one?” Billy asked. Where was Doctor Sachman, the kind-faced doctor that he had always seen before.

“You have three doctors taking care of you during nap. Doctor Sachman, was your doctor before, yes?” Billy nodded. “Doctor Sachman… is not here anymore.” Doctor Dimitri didn’t look like he wanted to say more than that. “After Sachman left he replaced by Doctor Adam Abrahamson. He care for you for many years, then he left to be with family in other country. Then the hospital call me and…” the doctor clapped his hands together and jumped a little. when he landed his hands were outstretched, as if he was presenting himself as the grandest exhibit in a museum. “Ta-da! Doctor Dimitri here now! Is good, yes?”

Billy didn’t know what to say. The rambunctious man was certainly different from the restrained man he was expecting when he realized he was in a hospital, but Billy didn’t think too much about it. He didn’t know if it was because of how much new information, sensory or otherwise, he had received in the last few hours or what but he did not question the man. He accepted the situation. So Billy just stared some more at the new man, waiting for him to say something else.

Doctor Dimitri put his hands down to his side once more and said that he needed to check Billy to make sure everything was ok. He took the thing around his neck and put it in his ears; the supposedly well-learned man then pretended as though he couldn’t hear anything, as though he were wearing ear plugs. Once he was finished, he explained to Billy that the thing was a stetho-something-or-other, Billy didn’t remember what he said. As the doctor pressed the device to his chest, Billy could feel the cool metal even through the gown he had been wearing at the hospital. The man instructed him to take deep breathes and exhale, he did as he was told. After that, Doctor Dimitri pulled something out of his breast pocket that looked like a miniature magnifying glass, at least he recognized the first one. The Doctor explained that this was a device designed while he was asleep and helped him look at his patient’s eyes. Billy saw the man press a button on the side and saw the glass come to life. He saw his own eye in the circle, but then Dimitri rotated the circle part and they image got bigger, like it zoomed in; he also saw some numbers and words in tiny green font, but he couldn’t read them.

It only took a few seconds, and then the man turned the technology off. He looked at Billy and told him that he needed to sit up for a while. Billy started to oblige before he realized that he couldn’t, at which point Mommy and Daddy helped him. They lifted his upper half and rotated him so his legs were dangling off the end of the bed; Daddy supported his back as Billy was much to weak to hold himself up. Another tool came out of the breast pocket, this one a small hammer device with a triangular head. Billy only had a small amount of time to wonder what it was for, when Doctor Dimitri hit him with it.

It wasn’t a hard hit, but it made Billy jump, his legs kicked outward. The Doctor looked at Billy and assured him it was alright, and that he was going to do it again, but he wanted Billy to just let his legs hang. When he felt the hammer hit again, he didn’t move his leg at all; but, his leg didn’t get the message. It kicked out slightly by itself. Dimitri moved to the other leg and it did the same. Satisfied, he put then tool back into his pocket.

“Good, good, very good. You may put him back, yes?” His parents did so. As they were gently setting him back down, the strange doctor man grabbed what looked like a chair with a  big ball underneath. It was indeed a chair, as he sat down in it, and he started rolling towards the bed, the ball acting as wheels, his feet acting as pedals. “Now, we must talk about your muscles. You are very weak, yes? You have not moved in many years, and muscles need moving to stay strong.”

Billy nodded, “Yeah, Daddy explained that to me.” It felt weird for him to say ‘Daddy’ in that grown-up voice. Grown-ups didn’t say Mommy and Daddy, they said Mom and Dad, sometimes Mother and Father. But they’d always been Mommy and Daddy to him, how could they be any different now?

“Oh good, good, very good. Now we talk about hard part. We must make your muscles strong again.”

“How do we do that?”

“We make you move! It is very hard work, but we get you strong in no time. First we build up your legs so you can stand and walk, that will be priority. Arms will get stronger too, but for now we focus on the legs, yes?” Billy wasn’t sure.

“How hard is it going to be? Doesn’t it take a really long time to build muscle up?”

Doctor Dimitri nodded with agreement, “Yes, yes, it very difficult, but not as hard as it could be. We have medicines and things to help you build muscle faster. This is good, yes?” Billy nodded, that was good. He knew it would still be hard, but at least there were things that could help. He wondered how much harder it would have been if it was twenty-three years ago, how much less technology and medical knowledge there would be available.

Over the next half hour the two talked about the recovery plan, and how long it would take Billy to be able to walk and go about his day by himself. It would be a long and treacherous road, but the only way to go was forward. He couldn’t go back in time to stop this from happening, it happened, he made it happen. It was his fault, and the feeling in his chest that never went away proved it. But he couldn’t sit in bed for the rest of his life, that would make him a burden to his parents; he had to be able to take care of himself. It was the least he could do to make up for all the trouble he put them through. After the Doctor left, Billy felt tired again and started drifting off. The conversation was a little too daunting, it seemed. Just before he lost consciousness, he saw Mommy and Daddy quietly make their way out of the room to give him some privacy.

~~~(\\/)~~~

His dream made no sense, as usual. He always read in stories how characters had dreams that were related to their current predicament and they were often symbolic. But Billy never experienced that, not even now. He saw something on tv about dreams just being the brain’s interpretation of random electrical signals from nerves. He didn’t understand it fully, but he understood that it was saying dreams meant nothing. And unless him flying over the ocean meant something specific, his dream denoted nothing this time as well.

As he regained his senses, he realized someone was holding his hand. He didn’t open his eyes, he knew it was Mommy. She always cared for him when he wasn’t feeling well; how had he ever thought she didn’t love him enough? He softly called out to her. He felt her jump a little, as though she was asleep also. He felt the hand squeeze his.

“Hi, Billy.” His mind froze for a second, that wasn’t Mommy’s voice, he didn’t recognize that voice. Slowly, he opened his eyes to see who it was. It was a girl with dark silky hair going past her shoulders. Her dark skin was smooth and unblemished and contrasted with Billy’s paleness. He didn’t recognize her at all, until he looked at her eyes. Her eyes had always been a myriad of colors, and they shimmered in the light as she saw the recognition in her childhood friends eyes.

“Sammy?” He couldn’t believe it, but she nodded her head vigorously in acknowledgement.

“Yeah, it’s me Billy.” It was too much to hold in, Billy joined in the tears. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately. Sammy, overcome with joy, lay her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around his neck. Billy froze for a moment. The last time they hugged was when Sammy had left years and years ago, even if he didn’t count the two decades he lost. But this felt different, he felt different. Something stirred inside him. He didn’t know what it was, but it made him feel happy. For a brief instant, he forgot about the feeling in his chest as it was replaced with one in his stomach. He forced himself to lift his arms up and wrap them around Sammy, completing the hug. It just felt like the thing to do. They stayed like that for a while, Billy wasn’t sure if it was because he wanted to stay like that or if he couldn’t move his arms again, but it felt nice. After a while, Sammy spoke.

“We moved back a couple of years after you went to sleep.” She spoke through sniffles and the occasional cough. “When I heard what had happened I was so upset; I went to see you right away. I thought… I thought maybe if I was there you’d wake up. I came once a week after that, every week.”

“What did you do when you visited me?”

“I just talked mostly. What had been happening to me, what I was going to be doing, stuff like that.” She finally broke the hug, Billy’s arms simply fell to either side as she sat up on the edge of the bed. With her hand, she wiped away the few tears that did not fall onto his chest. “I’m so glad you’re finally awake.”

Sammy was here. Sammy was here. It was unbelievable. One of the two people he ever truly considered a friend in this world was here; and this was even after they hadn’t seen or talked to each other in years. She was so different, but so was Billy. She had been back for twenty-one years. Twenty-one years and Billy hadn’t been there for her. She had been there for him though, every week for twenty-one years. Billy was too tired to do the math but he knew that was a lot. 

“I’m sorry I took so long to wake up.” It was an apology filled with guilt. He felt so bad for making her dote on him for so long. However, she hugged him again, hard, stopping his thoughts for another second.

“Don’t ever apologize.” She almost shook him with the intensity of her words. “This wasn’t your fault. And I would come for you every week for twenty more years if I had to. Do you hear me?” Billy wasn’t sure what to say, but he didn’t want to upset her again so he just nodded. “Good.” She seemed satisfied. She lifted her head and aligned her eyes with his. “I’ve missed you.” She said simply.

“I’ve missed you too.” She smiled and closed her eyes. It reminded him of a cat closing their eyes when they received a head scratching, not exactly the same, but the same sense of pleasure and affection. She leaned forward and gently rested her lips on his forehead, moving a few strands of his dark brown hair to do so. He felt it again, that fluttery stomach feeling. It was odd, it made him feel uncomfortable and safe at the same time. It made no sense, but he didn’t have time to worry about it. 

Sammy pulled away and scooted her body down the bed. She finally rested her head on his chest again, with her arm wrapped around his stomach. She was close, did she always get this close? Billy couldn’t remember. He didn’t question it though. He might have questioned it when they were kids, but it felt right. He put all these thoughts beside because she started talking, and he didn’t want to miss a word.

 

To be Continued


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