Visions. Short Story.

Still sick. It’s like the song that never ends, but with illness and far more annoying. With illness you can’t just slap who ever is singing to get them to stop.

Unsurprisingly, this meant I didn’t get up to much over the weekend. Chatted with family, watched TV, read some books, listened to music. Bathed.

I’m at the tail end of it all now, but I still have a damned cough. There’s still the fun of the running nose, but it has diminished greatly. This all feels so very, very underwhelming. I mean I’m young, apparently restless, I should be out with friends, or doing things other than sitting around feeling all crappy. I’m hoping this means I get a pass for winter in terms of being sick. After all, it’s only fair.

On with the show!

__________________________________________________________________

She picked at the lettuce, wanting something more. God she hated this diet so much, but it was necessary. For now she was thankful she was still on food, in  three days it would be down to nothing but liquids. She ate another piece. Normally she enjoyed lettuce, but with other things, it went in a salad, or a sandwich. She looked down at her plate, nothing but lettuce and not much of it either. It was a necessary evil though. She wanted the surgery, no, not wanted, needed. In just a few more weeks they’d go inside and cut it out.

 

 

She kept up appearances for as long as she could, wearing baggy sweaters to work, going outside for her meal replacement, telling everyone she popped off to some restaurant or had met a friend for lunch. They still believed it, but only barely. A few had already said she looked a little sick, one had even said she looked gaunt. Of course the higher ups knew about the surgery, but that didn’t mean she wanted everyone to know, not until she was gone. They’d all be aghast when they heard. “How could you go through with it?” “It’s a part of you!” “So you’re just gonna throw it away?” She had heard the arguments before a thousand times. Usually from her mother. It had skipped her, she didn’t know what it was like, but Caroline did.

 

 

She was twenty five and had never had a boyfriend, she had never kissed anyone, never really touched them either. She didn’t like to be touched. There was that brief second of warmth and comfort before it was all ripped away. She knew this was for the best, after all it was her life. No one else’s but hers.

 

 

The diet was starting to make her feel light headed and woozy. Her body was almost skeletal. The surgery had been scheduled for only a few days away. She just had to hold out a little longer. She had a little calendar, the date marked with a big red circle. She was so very close. Caroline was a little scared, but she knew she’d be able to make it. She would have liked if she had a little support from her parents, but her mother had screeched and screamed down the phone until Caroline had to hang up. She hadn’t heard from her father. No doubt her mother wouldn’t let him call. He always did what she wanted, it was easier. She didn’t like that she was going to be alone on the day, that there would be no one there when they wheeled her in, no one there when she woke up. She didn’t have friends. Only acquaintances. She didn’t like to hug or touch like the others. She didn’t like to go clubbing, all the loud noise and sweating people grinding against her senses. She always was alone, but this was the first time she was frightened by it. She wanted someone there to tell her it would be fine, even though they couldn’t know. She wanted someone to smile at her when she woke up, someone to crack jokes with her while she was recovering. She’d have that soon though, once this damn thing was out of her. She’d be normal, she’d be able to make friends.

 

For the last three days she avoided leaving the apartment. She had been warned about this. It would be too strong, she could feel her neighbours, banging around in their apartments. It almost made her want to throw up. Getting to the hospital wouldn’t be fun. They said they’d collect her, but it would be unpleasant to say the least.

 

 

It was finally the day of the surgery. They came at 7. Bundling her into a small, oblong box. Inside was blessed silence. They had told her about it, explained how it worked, she didn’t really care. She rode in it all the way to the hospital. They had explained that they would wheel her into the recovery room, then knock three times, she could come out immediately, or wait a few seconds to allow the workers to clear the room. Caroline chose to wait.

 

She got out of the pod and stepped into a white room, everything looked so clean and sterile. There was a single bed and a two way mirror, beside the mirror was an intercom button. A nurse appeared at the window.

 

“Hello Caroline, how are you feeling?”

 

“Fine. Thank you.”

 

“I hope your journey here was pleasant. I’m just here to give you a quick run down of how the procedure will go. It will take about four hours. Now, as we explained before, the diet your on has caused it to increase in size. This is done to ensure the surgeon can easily see it, and remove it all. If any is left it will regrow, though it will not be as strong as it was. Once it has been excised, you will be brought back here for recovery, it will take about a day or so for you to begin to feel normal. Things will be off and you may experience dizziness and nausea. If that happens, don’t worry, it is completely normal. You will be discharged on the second day, we don’t allow patients to leave without someone with them, however in cases like yours exceptions can be made. If you do not have someone to bring you home, we can arrange that. You will be told this again once you wake up from the surgery. We almost must stress you must not drive for a week, nor should you smoke, drink alcohol or do any drugs. A dietician will give you a meal plan so you can start eating healthily once the surgery is over. For your own health you should follow this diet for the first two weeks, after that you will be able to go back to your regular eating habits. Do you have any questions?”

 

“No, thank you. Everything has been explained pretty well to me, plus I’ve done a lot of research.”
The nurse smiled at her, “good, and though it is a scary prospect, please try to relax, you are in safe hands, while there can be complications they are rare. We need blood pressure readings and some blood samples, I can come in and take them, or you can use the machines.”
“The machines please.” The nurse nodded. Caroline didn’t want the silence broken.
“OK, if you’ll please step towards the two way mirror, you will see a round hole, please place your arm in and push it in as far as it will comfortably go.”
Caroline stepped up to the gap and placed her arm inside, pushing until it stopped. “Excellent, now I’m about to start the machine, it will hum and make a bit of noise, don’t be worried by that, that’s normal. I want you to hold very still and count backwards from twenty.”
Caroline started to count, the machine started to whirr, there was a brief bolt of pain, then nothing. She breathed slowly, counting down. When she reached five, the nurse asked her to step back. “Wonderful. We have your readings, the doctor will be here in a few minutes, just to make sure you don’t have any questions.” Caroline nodded again. She didn’t have any questions, she knew everything about the procedure.

The doctor came and went with minimal fuss. The told her her surgery time was scheduled for an hour. It seemed like such a short wait after so long. Soon it would be gone from her. She knew it would be strange, losing it after all these years. The visions had driven a wedge between her and other people. Most didn’t want to know, but there were a few who would brush against her, trying to get Caroline to tell them their future. She never answered those type of questions. A few in the office had started studying her face. One would bump into her while the other would sit in their cubicle, watching. When it was over, they’d report to who ever bumped into her and tell them if she frowned or smiled. They didn’t realise that wasn’t how it worked and Caroline always frowned, mostly at how inconsiderate people were. She had to go to HR three times to stop the harassment and it only finally ended when the instigator was fired. Luckily she was a protected class still. She knew she could have made a fortune, no doubt as her mother wanted, on the psychic circuit. Doing TV shows and private readings for the stars, but she couldn’t handle it. All the emotions. People didn’t know what came along with the readings. It wasn’t just seeing, it was living. It was seeing peoples greatest heights, seeing them at their worst lows. She had been women, screaming over their dead children, men shot in the face in a robbery gone wrong. She had been children, screaming in delight as they opened exactly what they wanted. And the worst of it all, was that nothing could be changed. People never understood it, they would try to avoid going to the bank on the day they were shot, and they’d be carjacked and shot instead. They couldn’t avoid their fate.

 

She had changed into the gown and lay down on the bed. Two orderlies came in and wheeled her towards the operating room. They explained they would have to shave a small section of her head, but she didn’t care, it was worth it. The nurses busied themselves, getting everything ready. The mask was put over her face, she felt woozy. The surgeon put his hand on her wrist, “don’t worry, everything will be fine.” She froze. She could see it, feel it. Feel the frantic worry as her heart stopped, see how they try and try to save her, feel the pain as they ring her parents and tell them she didn’t make it. Hear her mothers sobs. She tried to move, her arm rose from the bed, she wanted to rip the mask from her face, save herself, she needed to-

 

 

Darkness.

 

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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