Westchester County, NY
Zoe needed to stay in her coma, dreams induced by medicine. A life-giving cocktail that kept her body alive even if her mind would never be the same.
I hope she stays here the rest of her life, Hannah wished then immediately felt shameful.
There’s too much to lose.
“So, what’s your big plan?” Skylar began. Her voice wavered just a bit. It unnerved Hannah. She was never the one with a plan. She’d always been the lieutenant in this relationship, a dynamic duo since freshmen year at Whispering Hills Country Day School.
Hannah tried to sound strong, “Her sister said that Zoe showed signs of waking. We are going to talk to Zoe. Remind her how we are all best friends. Tell her that she doesn’t know who was driving the other car. Convince her that we had nothing to do with it. If we talk to her enough…”
As soon as she started speaking, Hannah felt like an idiot. Fall in line, Lieutenant Cross, she said to herself.
Skylar pulled Hannah into the bathroom with new roughness. Then she whispered. A darkness ensconcing her face despite the fluorescent light flickering to life.
“That’s the plan?” Skylar’s face burned, “God, you’re an idiot. You want to talk Zoe out of what she already knows?”
“I’ve heard that coma patients can hear you. I think…if we talk to her…maybe come back a few times…she’ll believe us…at least she’ll be confused when she gets up.”
Skylar put her hands on the counter and clicked her tongue. Her shock of brown waves fell forward. I failed her. I failed us. I thought it was a good plan. It sounded good in my head.
“It’s worth a shot. According to the websites I’ve been reading, you’re supposed to talk to loved ones, tell them about your day. Some people wake up having heard everything that happened around them while they were asleep.” But Skylar’s face was unconvinced. This plan is quickly unraveling.
“Fine,” Skylar wagged her head in disgust.
She thinks this is a waste of time. That I’m a waste of time. Hannah simmered with frustration. We’re here because of her! Hannah thought about theatre camp last summer. Once again, I’m with Skylar. Doing bad things.
The two girls surrounded Zoe’s bed. Hannah took the patient’s limp hand. It felt old and spent. She looked over Zoe’s blanketed body, her sunken cheeks, her pale neck.
“Zoe,” Hannah began. “It’s Hannah and Skylar. We’ve come to visit you again. We miss you so much at school.”
Hannah went on, voice mellifluous, chatting idly about school, the show. Ignore Skylar. Skylar, who stared at Hannah across the body with death in her eyes.
Hannah went on, “Your little sister is so good, Zoe. I can’t believe she’s only a sophomore. Her ankle is healing well. I think she will be back by hell week.”After a few minutes it didn’t seem weird anymore, just like talking to a friend.
“This is never going to work. We have to make sure she doesn’t wake up. We have to do it.”
Hannah’s rib cage contracted. What did Skylar just say? Did I hear her right?
“We can’t make sure of anything. She could never wake up or wake up after we leave. That’s why we have to play the long game,” Hannah pleaded.
“I was never one for patience,” Skylar grinned.
“What are you doing?”
Skylar bent down behind the hospital bed and fiddled with wires, “Looking for where to unplug Princess Vegetable.”
“What?” Hannah’s voice caught in her throat and cracked.
“You heard me. It would be a mercy.”
Hannah glanced toward the door then the clock. The nurse wouldn’t be around for another seven minutes. Skylar knew them, knew their schedule. She could be so charming. It terrified Hannah.
Skylar’s head popped up, “A mercy for you. You’re pathetic right now, Hannah. We aren’t going to come here every night and con Zoe into thinking that the accident didn’t happen.”
Hannah desperately searched for something to say that would derail Skylar. She’s a maniac. I can’t believe I let it go this far.
“Found it,” Her voice was almost small from behind the bed.
Hannah rushed around to see Skylar contorted, hands following wires to their homes.
Skylar kept fiddling and adjusting her body at different angles. The lulling beeps of the machines now sounded like ticking bombs. And Skylar was Jack Bauer from 24, diffusing the explosion that would ruin Hannah’s life. Was she grateful for Skylar in some dark recess of her soul?
“Found what?” Hannah choked. I could let her do this. Right now. I could be free of this. The blackness filled her chest—like cabernet spilled on a creamy white tablecloth.
Skylar lifted her body up and sighed, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” She dusted off her Lululemon leggings. “All you have to do is unplug the ventilator. The patient loses oxygen and dies. That’s how easy it is.”
“How do you know that?” Hannah’s stomach lurched. How fast can I get back to the bathroom?
Skylar twirled her hair flippantly, “One of the perks of sitting through countless boring dinners with my dad and his friends. See, my dad is on the board of Harrison Hospital. And one time, this young doctor—another board member brought him along, I guess, for colorful conversation—well, he went on and on about the need to lock down the plugs. While he was in residency, a janitor unplugged a patient by accident and they lost him.”
The information sank in. Horrifying. But it would be so easy. And then this would be over. I can’t believe I’m trying to rationalize this. After a deep breath, she appealed to reason, “If you unplug one of these machines, they will beep like crazy. Surely there is some, I don’t know, mechanism, that tells the nurses in the hallway what’s going on.”
Skylar stepped over to one of the machines and flipped a switch. And just like that…the machine kept nagging the body to be alive…but in silence. “Silence button,” She flipped it back on. And the device began its song again. “My mom was in hospice forever, remember?”
“We can’t do this. I won’t let you kill her.”
“She’s already dead. I don’t know what the hell those doctors are telling her family.”
“How many coma patients do you know?” Hannah snapped.
“It’s in the pamphlets out in the hall, stupid. If she didn’t wake in the first month, the chances of Zoe waking are slim.”
Skylar ducked under the bed once more.
Hannah grabbed her friend, “Skylar. No!” But Skylar swatted Hannah away and scratched her face.
“Ow!” Hannah cried. A little too loudly. She can be vicious sometimes. Hannah touched her cheek tenderly. I guess this is because of me though. We are here because of me.
Just then, the machines around Zoe started beeping with more urgency. Sentient beings protecting their ward from these evil spirits around her.
Zoe’s eyelids fluttered. Was she moving? No, she was still.
Shit, she moved.
Then shouting out in the hallway. Then footsteps.
With ninja speed, Skylar grabbed Hannah’s arm and pulled her back in the bathroom. Finger to mouth, Skylar motioned to be absolutely still.
Continue to Chapter One.
Copyright 2019 Kristin Sample All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written consent of the author.
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