Friday, April 15, 2016

Up in Arms

                When I woke up, the white light overhead made me close my eyes to a sliver. A burning ache tore through my body a second later.
                Through the glow blocking my vision, I heard a click. Then, a voice.
                “Hello, Mr. Wright. How are you feeling?”
                I blinked. My eyes adjusted and I spotted an older man robed in a white coat. He had paused in front of the door he had closed ten feet away from me. A bristle of short hair haloed the bottom of his face as he looked over me.
                “Where am I?” I struggled to push myself up, but something held me back. I looked down at my body to find out I was dressed in a disposable paper gown.  Black restrains snaked around my waist, arms and legs.
              “You are in a hospital, sir. It’s nice to meet you. My name is Dr. Asher.”
“A hospital?” Rage washed over me. “What the hell am I doing at a hospital? Let me go!”
“Relax.” Dr. Asher stared into my eyes until I reclined backward from my restrains. The soothing fabric on the hospital bed enveloped my tired body.
The man turned his back to me. For the first time, I noticed a large glass overlooking a busy hallway. Nurses breezed past in a flurry of magenta and blue scrubs. The wrinkled hand of Dr. Asher reached toward a hanging cord above him and sliding blinds filed to cover the large window.
                I watched as the doctor dragged a small chair to the side of my bed. “We’re going to get you the help you need, Mr. Wright.” He wavered on frail legs before lowering himself onto his seat.
                “Help? I need you to leave me alone, that’s what I need.”
                The older man patted my hand with a delicate touch. “I will. I just need you to answer some questions and then I’ll leave you be, okay? The faster we get through this, the better.”
                As if I can do anything else. When I didn’t answer, the man looked to a clipboard on his lap. Papers were flipped over the rigid top edge before his eyes settled on a page. “Let’s start with some basic orientation questions. Can you tell me your first name?”
                I stared at the man. “Are you serious?” When he only gazed back, I sighed. “I’m Avery.”
                “What is the date?”
                “I don’t know. I’m not a calendar.”
                The doctor hesitated. “Tell me the day of the week, if you don’t remember.”
                “Right.” The man nodded. “Okay.”  He reached over to my arm, the one closest to him. The smell of disinfectant washed over me as he drew closer. I watched him unravel the blanket of gauze encompassing my arm. His eyes widened as he caught sight of the deep open gash on the inside of my elbow.
He replaced the gauze over the wound, his eyes still trained on mine. “Does it hurt?”
                “A little. It just aches.”
                “Mr. Wright, why did you do this?”
                “I already told you. That arm isn’t mine. It doesn’t belong to me. I want it gone.”
                “Explain to me.” The man leaned forward and propped his head on his fist. “Help me understand.”
                My stomach twirled when I caught sight of my right arm again. I looked away in disgust. “If a roach is on you, you get grossed out and try to shake it off. Same thing. Only in my case, it’s attached and everyone thinks I’m crazy for it.”
                “I see,” the low murmur responded. He tapped his chin with a finger. “Is your left arm bad as well?”
                “No. Left one feels fine. The right one feels different. Off.”
                A loud creaking interrupted my words. We turned toward the door to see the tall figure of my mom propped against the door frame.
                “Anna, I’m still talking with your son.” Dr. Asher looked to her with the passive stare of a cat before turning to the papers on his lap. “Please wait in the lobby and I will—“
                “You told me that an hour ago.” My mom’s voice wavered as she glared at the older man. “I want to talk with him, like you had promised. Now.”
                With an audible sigh, the doctor used the rails of my bedside as a cane to stand up. He motioned toward me. “Go ahead.”
                My mom only crossed her arms.
                “Alone?” Dr. Asher gave a patronizing shake of his head. “Healing him involves talking to me.”
                “I won’t ask you twice.” Her eyes burned with anger as she watched the ambling figure brush past.
                “Okay,” he chuckled, raising his hands in defeat. “I know not to fight with a mother. But afterward, he needs to be seen with me.” He paused in the hallway and gave me a last look. “We’ll talk later. Take it easy, Mr. Wright.”
                I heard the man’s shoes clack down the tile hallway. As soon as the sound of footsteps became softer, my mom closed the door and whirled around.
                “Avery, honey, how are you doing?” My mom’s sped to my side and her eyes jerked over my face.
                “I want you to get me out. Now. I hate how they’re talking to me, mom. Like I’m insane.”
                 The haunted look on her face surprised me. “You’re not insane.”
                  I  laughed. “Look at me! I’m tied up like a madman. Everyone else sure thinks so.”
                “I know you’re not.” Her head turned to the closed blinds. Flouncy brown hair swung from the movement as her green eyes scanned between the gaps. Then, she lowered a knee on the floor to look into my eyes. “I’ve been meaning to tell you something for a really long time. I think you should know now.”
                My mom was almost in tears by this point. I wanted to pull away from her emotional gaze, but my right arm would move along with me. So I stayed still.
                “That arm isn’t yours,” she sobbed. “You’ve been right this whole time, Avery.”
                A slender hand raised to wipe the tears that ran down her face. “Do you remember those pills you used to take as a boy? The ones you still take?”
                “Those are immunosuppressants. Your right arm is a transplant.”
                “No!” My revulsion exploded and chills ran over me. I screamed and struggled to break  from my restraints as my mother’s crying filled the air.
                “I'm sorry I didn't tell you! You were just a baby! I didn’t think you would remember!”
                “Hey, what’s going on here?” The screams died in my throat as Dr. Asher glowered at my mom. “I knew letting you in was a bad decision. Look how wired you got him. Step out now or I will call security.”
                I saw my mom lower her head in defeat. She lay a hand briefly on my head before she walked the expanse of the room. I saw her hesitate in the hallway but Dr. Asher slammed the door in her face.
                “Good riddance.” He shook his head. “Try to do some good and it backfires. Ah well. Now Mr. Wright, tell me more about your arm. Any idea why it feels off to you?”


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