Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
"This shouldn't've happened."
The voice is sudden, trembling slightly. The words fall into a silence made all the more intense for the steady humming and beeping of machinery in the room, and the bustling urgency just outside the glass door.
"I - I don't get it, mate."
He's been sat there for at least half an hour now, but this is the first time he has spoken. His clothes are rumpled, eyes sleepless and haunted.
"The doctors, they tested you for all sorts. You collapsed so sudden-like, and we hadn't a clue..."
The bedside table is metallic and sterile-looking, with a whitened ceramic top. A single 'Get well soon' card looks rather forlorn placed on a space meant for flowers and grapes.
"So. We know, now. -They- know, I mean. Your folks. Your pa didn't take it so well. I mean... Jesus!"
His hands are trembling too, clutching spasmodically at the hard plastic chair as if to anchor him back to reality.
"Why'd you do it? So... so stupid, man. I know that. Hell, I know it better 'n anyone. You saw what they did to me. Why? Just, why do it, mate?"
He sits and stares, for a while, as if he can look deep enough to see the answers. It isn't long before the scrape of shoes and a swinging door break the silence once again.
The voice is far softer than the words would suggest, parting the busy silence gently, like a scalpel. Her tone is bone-tired and beyond disappointment.
"You could have come to me if you were having trouble."
The long skirt is precisely ironed, the floral print free of any stain. Her blouse is fresh and if her eyes are red, that can be disregarded in lieu of the perfectly applied mascara. Blond hair, meticulously lacking in grey, is bound back tightly.
"Your father... is not the most flexible of men, I know. Always pushing, never letting up on the image, the ideal..."
On the table, a small potted cactus sits disdainfully across from the previous card. Somehow, the empty space seems accented by the addition, rather than filled.
"Your sports were important to him. Very important. But I'd like to think..."
She slumps in the chair like a severed marionette, and draws a shuddering breath to continue.
"I'd like to think he'd put your health, your welfare, before that. I'd like to."
Her voice shrinks, until the beeping of the life-support system threatens to override the small breath of air.
"But I don't."
Her voice is weak, thick with guilt. It settles into the sterile air like an anvil, weighing every word with regret.
"Christ, Jo, how'd it come to this?"
She sits curled into the chair, sandled feet tucked beneath her body. Her jeans are yesterday's, and her T-shirt hangs about her too-thin frame. Her face seems naked without make-up, and her eyes are vulnerable.
"I thought it'd help. Give you that little edge on the rest, you know? And your da was so proud."
The card was looking slightly scuffed, now, and the cactus had lost its store-bought freshness just enough to droop towards it in a small show of comradeship. Overshadowing them both was a plastic cup containing a few tall flowers, their stems stark against the colourless surroundings.
"They tell you all the time, at school. Those slogans, tryin' to warn you. I never listened."
The scratch of her sandal on the plastic chair as she rises is unnoticeable against the background noises of the ward.
"Maybe I shoulda, eh? Maybe..."
She brushes her hand gently across his shoulder as she leaves, a single tear running unchecked down her cheek.
Under a blue hospitable blanket, the boy lies, peacefully. You would think him asleep, until you noticed the medical equipment and IV line extending into his arm.
On his bedside table, the white lilies sit waxen and serene.
The heart monitor keeps beeping.