Any of you nineties kids remember the saying ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’? I never got to experience that in my life but now, as I lay in a pile of dirty laundry (and who knows what else), in this alternate dimension Silent Hill-version of the hospital I died in the phrase seems adequate.
I knew I had to get up. I had to figure out where the hell I landed and I need to find Sean. The air is thick with fog, I can barely see the door.
I exit the room the see Sean’s ghost (are you a ghost if your body is technically still alive?) passing by. “Sean?”
He doesn’t hear me but we both hear the echoes in the fog. “Left.”
I followed Sean as close as I could but I suddenly realized where we were. This was the maternity ward. Isy’s haunting grounds. Was she here? There was someone here, an elderly nurse with a name badge that read “Lynn.”
I took a few steps back, hiding in the shadows. That was when I finally bumped into Isy.
“Are you hiding too?” she asked with a shy voice while looking at a glimmer of light coming from a broken window.
“Is there a reason to hide? Who is that nurse? Is Sean in danger?”
“No,” she said, walking towards the light. “it’s just been a while since I’ve seen my grandma.”
“Isy wait! What are you not telling me?”
There were tears in her eyes. “Does it matter? Life is meaningless, you know. If there were not humans the world would still turn. God would just watch over those who were truly worthy of his love.”
“Life does matter. the marks we leave upon this world matter, everything happens for a reason. that’s why time travel will never be invented.”
the last part got her to smile. “I didn’t die here, in the hospital. The way I died was well, embarrassing, shameful- I don’t know how to feel. All I want is to forget it but I can’t because…”
“Why? You can tell me anything. I committed suicide, and it tore my family apart-”
“Well, the truth is, we’re not so different. I told you that I died in labor because that sounded heroic. I should have died in labor, but instead, I downed a bottle of expired prescription pain pills and cut open my wrists.”
“Wow,” I muttered, unsure what to say.
“Yeah, wow indeed especially when my brother Jayden- who had begged and pleaded with my parents to come to visit his banished whore of a sister- he found my body. And why? Because me and my stupid hormonal brain decided to kill myself on the one day we were supposed to hang out. Talk about being a screw-up.”
All I could think to do was hold her as she cried out the rest of her story.
“He called my grandma. Granny Lynn was a nurse and she worked nights so she had been out at the grocery store at the time. Grandma Lynn came home and Jayden called 911.” She paused for a moment. “I’m not sure when I died. because I don’t remember feeling pain, but I do remember watching as Grandma Lynn took a kitchen knife and cut out my baby, just as the paramedics arrived.” Isy paused as tears sparkled in her eyes. “I’m the reason he’s sick.”
“That’s not how cystic fibrosis works.”
At least that got a laugh. “You know what I mean. If I had been there for him: if I had tried to be the mother he needed me to be… Maybe that’s why he can’t see me? I don’t deserve to speak to him.”
“You do and you will.” But first, I had to work on making myself visible to Sean. In my mind, I focused on what we had in common. It wasn’t enough that he was the son of my best friend. I needed to focus on the bond we shared; our love for my sister. Did he get her pregnant? Did she leave the state to have his child? I needed to know the truth. And so did Sean. I took a breath, pulling in all of my strength, I uttered a single word. “Look.”
Sean turned to face me with a look of terror in his eyes. I quickly realized he wasn’t looking at me but at Isy. In this realm, her entire lower body was covered in blood. “Don’t be afraid,” I said, addressing both.
“Are you Cam?” Sean was finally looking at me.
I nodded. “We’re trapped. We know the pain we’ve caused.” That when I realized, Sean wasn’t just a kid. There was a reason why he survived being cut from his mother’s dying body. I took a deep breath. “Sean, you need to go back. So much depends on you returning to your life.”
Sean sighed. “Like what? I’m going to die anyway. Jen is gone, and Sara can help
your father. Give me one reason why I should go back.”
Was he seriously considering death?
Isy turned to us with her innocent gaze. “I would do anything to be able to go back. I should never have taken my own life. I would have kept you, and
I would have loved you, and grandmother would have taken care of the
rest. But I was too weak.” Isy moved closer. Her blue eyes seemed to glow, matching Sean’s eyes. “You look so much like Jayden.”
“Jayden?” he repeated.
Isy launched into a story about the first and last time Sean met Jayden. Apparently years later Jayden had tracked down Sean to this very hospital. He met Sean and Sara before moving to Oregon for medical school. Yet another one of Isy’s secrets, I guess. But it seemed she got through to Sean.
“How do I even get back?” he asked.
Izzy took his hand. “That part’s easy.”
I could see a portal of light forming. Could Isy send him back? The question was still fresh in my mind as she grabbed my hand, shoving both Sean and myself through the portal.
“You must guide him, Cam. I trust you with his son’s life.”
I awoke in Sean’s hospital room. He was in a bed with a breathing tube in his throat- and his eyes were open. I watched as he moved his foot, causing his entire body to spasm in pain.
“I’ll bet you won’t be trying that again anytime soon.” My joke was a little inappropriate but I was at a loss for what to do.
Sean’s eyes darted around, his panic voice spoke to me telepathically. “Am I dead?”
“Do you feel dead?”
Sean grimaced. “How the fuck do I even know?”
“Ok, that was a little mean of me. I apologize. Just look to your left, carefully. You’ve still got a breathing tube rammed down your throat. Time it was taken out, right?”
To his left was Sara with her head resting on his chest. How his spasm didn’t wake her was beyond me. I watched as Sean tried to move his hand, but not wanting him to risk further injury I decided to help out. I floated behind Sara. “Hey Supergirl,” I said sleeping beauty, time to wake up.”
Sara’s eyes opened. She called for a nurse and after some drama the breathing tube was removed, allowing Sean to speak. Sara caught Sean up on the goings on of the last few months. She and JP were a couple. Together they had been checking in on my father to make sure he was getting proper medical care, despite the increasing hostility of my mother. For that I was grateful.
Over the next few weeks, I stayed by Sean’s side through long, painful sessions of physical therapy.
There were ups and downs, Both concerning Sean’s health and Sara’s new relationship. From where I stood, it was clear Sara was taking Sean with her to college (UCLA, which she was already pre-enrolled), where they would live off campus as roommates. All Sean needed to do was get recovered well enough to walk again.
Then came the first mention of Remy Desilva. Apparently, he was a new age holistic healer and licensed physical therapist who just happened to be JP’s cousin.
Under JP and Sara’s recommendation, this Remy person had been working with my father to help with his chronic pain. And their plan was for Remy to work with Sean as a home care nurse upon his release. This set up would allow Sean to be discharged from the hospital in a wheelchair, to fully recover in the comfort of his own home.
I needed to learn more. and I would get my chance, because it appears I am no longer under the control of the spirits of the hospital, but instead I am tethered to Sean, watching over him like a wannabe guardian angel.
Eventually, the day finally came when Sara pushed Sean in a wheelchair to their mother’s waiting minivan. As I followed, stepping into the light of the North Dakota sun, I took one last look at the hospital. I was finally free, but would I ever see my best friend again? “Goodbye, Isy.”
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Sean has lived with cystic fibrosis his entire life. He falls in love with Jen, a girl with a dark, emotionally painful past. Living with chronic illness, Sean knows a little something about overcoming pain. But when he meets her family, his courage will be put to the test.
Jen’s father, Diego, is a disabled military veteran. He is being mentally and physically abused by his wife, due to his role in the death of Jen’s brother. Accompanied by a mysterious, supernatural, presence, it will fall to Sean to play the hero. All while navigating a life with chronic illness, and chasing his dreams in California.