immolation-a sacrifice, particulary by fire
Gerard and Mikey screeched to a halt in Gerard’s Subaru in front of the hospital, ran up the steps and demanded to know where Aimee Callen was and what had happened. They got into the elevator heading for the fourth floor, and couldn’t help but notice the sign beside the button Fourth Floor; Burn Victims and Chemical Poisoning
“No” Gerard whispered, looking at Mikey, who stared back at him with uncomprehending eyes.
They reached Aimee’s room just as the doctor was leaving
“Is she alright, doctor, what happened…I’m…We’re her friends, she was at our house then went home and next thing we know we get a call from her mum saying…”
Gerard rambled until the doctor held up his hand to stem Gerard’s rambling
“My name is Doctor Singh, now, Ms Callen’s injuries are quite severe, she appears to have been doused with gasoline and set ignite, thankfully, she was rescued by a passer-by, but the resulting burns and smoke inhalation have resulted in significant tissue damage, she will have bad scarring, and is in an induced coma, awaiting skin grafts, you may go in there and see her, talking to a patient in a coma has been found to be beneficial. I’m sorry boys; I must continue my rounds now”
Gerard and Mikey watched him go without speaking, they held hands like they did when they were younger and walked together into Aimee’s room. Mikey gasped. Their friend, their beautiful, vivacious friend looked like a mockery of a mummy as she lay on the stark white sheets. She was covered in thick white gauze that still showed her red, raw skin underneath. Her once beautiful black hair, with its natural red and brown highlights was lost, burnt away revealing a scorched scalp that was so raw, so unnatural that Mikey looked away.
But Gerard couldn’t. He watched the chest of his friend rise and fall, assuring himself that she was still alive. Leaning over her, he stopped his face short of her cheek, afraid that if he kissed her, his lips would come away with her skin attached. So he breathed, ever so lightly on her burns, to let her know that they were there, that they cared. This slight pressure on her newly exposed flesh made Aimee wince, and Gerard let out a dry sob. I’m too late
Throughout the night, there was no change. Aimee’s mum came briefly, but left for her job, promising to be back at 5. Mikey went off to school with bright eyes and white face to sit his English assessment, but Gerard stayed. He refused to leave when the nurses changed Aimee’s dressings, forcing himself to watch as her skin was peeled away, he refused to leave when his mum came with food, he didn’t even get up for his morning coffee, or mid-day coffee, or afternoon coffee. He kept a constant bedside vigil beside his friend, drawing, talking to her and writing something in the back of his sketch book. He left only when Aimee’s mum returned, and went outside to give them some privacy.
He stood at the entrance to the Emergency dept, a black shadow blending into the grey walls, watching the chaos and grief around him as ambulances pulled up and patients were wheeled in; some with horrific injuries, some foaming and twitching, and some as white and still as death. Shaking his head, he pulled out a cigarette and lit it between two smoke-stained fingers, breathing in deeply. He had grabbed a coffee from the café on the way out, and alternated between sipping the weak brown liquid that had barely qualified as a caffienated drink, and dragging on his cancer stick, fully aware of the smoke that resided in Aimee’s lungs, through no fault of her own. Disgusted with himself, he stubbed the cigarette out and raised the Styrofoam cup to his lips. He paused, thinking, then, surruptiously reached into his shoulder bag and pulled out a hipflask, splashed some, then more clear liquid into his coffee, and took a swig straight from the flask, shuddering as the vodka hit his empty stomach. He stowed the flask away and finished his coffee before walking back inside the hospital, passing Aimee’s mum on the way in
“Gerard? You’re still here? Visiting times are over you know?”
“I know, I just wanted to say goodbye. Will you tell my parents I won’t be home tonight? I have a lot of thinking to do…”
“Of course Gerard. Thanks so much for your care of Aimee, I…I can’t believe someone would do that to her, what did she ever do to deserve it? I just, I can’t, I...” Aimee’s mum exploded, her confusion and anguish rendering her inarticulate. Gerard patted her on her back awkwardly and watched her pull herself together, utter an apology and leave.
Aimee still looked so frail on the freshly changed sheets, so small, so helpless. Gerard heard the doctor’s coming down the hall, and hid in the bathroom attached to her room, he didn’t want Aimee to spend the night alone. He stayed there for two hours, until the sounds had died away, and the nurses drew the blinds in Aimee’s room. Then, he crept out and sat by Aimee’s head, taking care that he couldn’t be seen from the hall.
“Hey, Aimee. The doctors said that even though you’re in a coma, you can still hear me, I certainly hope so, or else I’m a real idiot, talking to myself.” Gerard let out a small laugh that ended in a hacking cough,
“damn cigarettes. God Aimee, I don’t wanna believe this happened, you don’t deserve it at all, no one seems to know who did it, but I do. It was Jackson, wasn’t it? I know it was. The Fucker. I swear Aims, I’m gonna kill him for doing this to you; he’s not getting away with this shit. I’ll get revenge for you Aimee, I promise. When I’m done, the little shit will be so fucked up he’ll need Chrissie to feed him through a straw.”