Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The ACT and Surgery

What I'm Listening to: Heaven Forbid (The Fray) After finishing a quiz today, I sat silently at my desk and compared standardized tests and surgery. I found an impressive amount of similarities: Both require that you not drink or eat. Most people find both quite stressful (there's often pain involved, too). Everyone eagerly--or worriedly, in some cases--anticipates the results. Both involve a treeful of paperwork. There's a lot of chance associated with both--the surgery depends on the skill of the doctor and the ACT or SAT depends on the random assortment of questions. But the most significant similarity is the make-it-or-break-it stakes. As you may or may not have figured out, I'm preparing to take a standardized test (the ACT, to be exact). My nerves are more or less fried, so thankfully After the Crash has already been penned. I would just like to point out that this, part eight, is the highly anticipated finale of After the Crash (which means I have to find a new piece of work to publish...) Well, here it is: Liberation My wet lashes flutter. I wonder idly if it's from the snow. And then I remember it's been weeks since I've merely breathed fresh air--let alone been in the snow. I used to be able to count on one hand the times I've cried. Now I need two. I sweep a finger under my eye and the tear comes away clear and unclouded. It's been weeks since I've worn makeup. I might stop altogether. It's kind of nice, not checking for mascara stains. "This is the day you're released," the kitten-clothed scrubs lady says, adjusting my awkward clavicle cast and helping me sit up. "It still hurts," I say in confusion. She tells me it will for a while, sweetie. But I will get better. She sets the clothes I wore the day of the crash on the bed, washed and unstained. I stand up on my own for the first time in weeks and slip out of the horrible hospital gown. It slithers slowly the floor and lands in a blue-and-white heap. The checkered white floor chills my bare feet and I shiver, quickly climbing into my clothes. I am wearing a white T-shirt, a black sweatshirt, and pants. For the snow, I presume. I throw back the curtain on the right and make my way to the bathroom. The sweatshirt hangs loosely on my impossibly smaller-than-usual frame. I'm betting IVs don't include Death by Chocolate. But wouldn't that be ironic? I take off my sweatshirt and knot it around my waist. It clicks distantly in my mind that I'm going to have to walk out of the hospital barefoot. I turn on the icicle-emitting spigot and splash my face with a frigid wake-up call. I then attempt to brush my teeth without a toothbrush. I am ready. My feet pat softly down the clouded-sky hallway. I throw back my curtain and my hand hesitates at the one on the left. Slowly, slowly I pull it back. There is confusion in his eyes. Then comprehension. Then ecstasy. Only then do I notice the elevated cast next to me. The pain on his face that he is so heroically hiding. "I knew you'd come," he whispers, his teeth set in a concealed grimace. Somehow, strangely, I did too. At first I didn't want it, but now it's...different. "I don't--can't--leave you," I say, looking like the sorry state that I am. He grins some more, and then scrawls an address to my new life on a Pepto-Bismol colored pad. And then I do the inevitable. I walk away. David doesn't--can't--know what he's done for me. At least not yet. Several passerbys glance austerely at my bare feet and I stifle a grin. If they'd been through all that I've been through, the last thing they'd be thinking of would be bare feet. But here I am, unshod, and it's snowing again. I am healing, but I'm not well. I am like a manuscript. What was written is written and there's no going back. But I'm open to reading. At least, by people I risk enough to let into my heart. Like David. The cry for a taxi freezes on my white, cloudy breath as I screech to a halt. I fly back, back to the curtain. Somehow I'm going to have to fake sick for a while.

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