Like floating back up from the tea party at the bottom of the pool. First the cold. Every hair on my body prickles and skin pimples in reaction. Smell of chemical lemons and new plastic comes on strong. My face remembers how to move, I grimace. Sound washes in last, full and strong. Muffled voices broken off by some barricade, a repeating tone. Over and over and over and over. I want to shut it off, my limbs seem to still be swimming underneath the surface.
What’s a little more sleep. Can deal with that beeping later. I am sinking again, inch by inch, but then the pain starts. Weak at first but emanating from every cell. A load of minuscule, rickety engines long unused and turning back over to do some work. Groaning, resisting and building into a heavy throb. Everywhere, except my arm which feels non existent. An ice block. What is that? What is going on? I have to know if it is gone.
The moment I see it, the life comes back to it. Cool and dry ice. From wrist to elbow white twining around. In the other arm tubes have been taped into the crook of my elbow and run up to fluid bags. Through a school slot window, metal crisscrossing the surface, Jason stands back to me blocking the path of a uniformed police officer and a movie-worthy detective showing a badge. I’ve woken up into a trashy soap opera. Amnesia and all. My characters next action: bemoan her missing life.
Really, because I can’t get my brain to run through the events leading to this bed, monitor beeping out my heart blips. And my arm..then it comes back in drips. A knife sliding and cutting so easy. Shock, blood, fear. In the street in front of a silver-blue Taurus. From the outside and then inside, an old leaf-shaped air freshener swaying back and forth. No smell anymore. Why keep it if it hasn’t got a smell anymore? I remember that thought, had it over and over again. The drama repeats back on loop after that. Over and over. Starts to seem like a farce, not something that can happen in real life. Started with those words, what was it…”How about a little protein with those blueberry muffins for breakfast?”
What had happened? Granted Carla had always wound herself up tight about every little nit picky detail. Made her great at her job as managing editor, but not really a people person. But, we’d never had any problems, met at a race and did long runs every weekend together after that, always followed by brunch at her house. Carla never ate anything she hadn’t prepared herself. I shot an occasional barb at this unusual habit. Carla was a vegan and I, well, I wasn’t. Our conversations mostly stayed in the realm of running: roads for hills, fartleks, and cross training, so she never bothered me much. I knew some of her journalists who couldn’t stand her and often asked me how I could manage. Her demand for attention to detail had whipped my lazy-ass into shape for an upcoming half-marathon after a year of exact timing, intervals and food proportions.
Now attempted murder. Tsk, tsk Carla. You’dve been on the cover of your own newspaper tomorrow, above the fold even.
Whoosh. The door opens hard. My heart monitor bleeps into action. Carla’s back, but it’s just Jason. The monitor settles back into a monotonous pattern. He strides over.
“Jesus Jason. You scared the hell out of me.” I start laughing.
“I don’t see what’s funny.”
Awww Jason, who can’t get up before noon on a Sunday. His straight hair is spread flat on the pillow side of his head. Ancient university hoody, in tatters at the cuffs and bottom, and pajama pants. I’d look to see if he has his fluffy bunny weekend slippers on, but am too tired to lift my head.
“Susie. Focus please. What the hell happened? That woman is fucking crazy. I mean I get this call you are in hospital with a stab wound, lost a lot of blood, found on the street. The police are here. I pushed my way in first.”
“The police?” I do raise my head now, remembering I saw them before, enough to look out into a busy hallway, a nurse fending off two officers, holding themselves the same way. A couple of school boys. I start to laugh again.
“Have you gone crazy?” Jason flushes, always has when he’s worried.
“I am alive.” I make my best Dr. Frankenstein impression, raise myself off the bed with arms extended zombie-style and laugh some more.
“Seriously Sue. What is going on?” He sits at the end of the bed, scratches my foot.
“I think the police might be a bit excessive in this case.” One sees me up through the rectangular glass and begins to speak with more force, nudging past the nurse. I lay back quick. “It was just a little cooking accident.”
Never cross a vegan, they’ll turn cannibal. Had it really been just that joke? Was Carla a psychopath? Her colleagues seem to think so. But, I don’t have time to figure it out. The police are in. Jason puts his man face on, the one he got whenever he felt he had to act protective of me. A caveman at the mouth of his hillside hole holding back the minions of ferocious animals and uncouth men here to maul, rape and pillage.
“Ma’am.” The lead officer nods, ignoring Jason. He’d taken hold of my foot now. “The gentleman who saw you sitting in the street and brought you here gave us a call. Seems like you’ve had a bit of trouble. Would you like to tell us what happened? We can help you out.”
Well officers I had a philosophical knife fight and I was on the losing end. What I want to say, but they don’t seem the joking types. The second officer has a notepad out poised to take down whatever I said. “It’s really not necessary. I am sorry to waste your time, but I won’t be pressing any charges. Just a little accident.”
The officer shifts his weight to attention. “With respect ma’am. You could’ve died of blood loss out there on the street, if the gentleman hadn’t seen you. We can bring this person to justice. There’s no need to fear your attacker.”
The door swings in again. Everyone’s heads follow the sound and the person walking in. Carla appears around the other side of the bed. Dressed and knifeless now.