Published on February 14th, 2013 | by Guest51
The Love Letters: Letter #7
LETTER #7: Even In The Darkness. (1/2)
She paused, her hand on the door knob. Maybe today will be the day she walks in to find him sitting up in bed, awake. People told her not to get her hopes up, but since when did she listen to people? Hope was all she had left, all that kept the fear and anguish from crushing her. She opened the door and walked in and she knew at once – without looking at him, without needing to – that he was not awake. He had an aliveness that seeped into everything around him and stayed in the air long after he’d left a place. This room felt dead. She dropped her bag at the foot of the bed and went to the windows, parting the blinds to let the sun in. She lingered there, staring out through the glass. The world should have stopped with Temi that Saturday evening. But outside of this white room, in spite of the man who had been lying still in it for weeks, eating through his veins, the world was going on.
Julie relaxed her face into a smile before turning and walking to her husband’s side. She’d read somewhere that it might be possible for people in a coma to sense things. She didn’t want him worried. She leaned over his head and peered into his face. She would have to get him shaved again soon. She imagined him springing up and kissing her; it was the kind of trick he might play if he were to suddenly come awake. She wondered how his mouth, cleaned daily but unused, would taste after all this time, and immediately felt guilty for the thought.
“I have something for you,” she whispered. She went to her bag, got out her iPad and opened the note. Then she drew a chair close to his bed, curled her legs under her, and started to read.
I don’t know if you can hear me, but I read somewhere that you might be able to. I don’t know. They said I should be talking to you, like I would if you were awake. I tried, but it was just too weird abeg, with you just lying there and not interrupting me like you always do. You maybe don’t remember this, but one time we were arguing – I can’t even remember what about now – and I said something like, “God, Temi, can’t you just shut up and listen for once!” Well, now you’re shut up…
I found it easier to write to you, and this way I’d just read it back. It’s always been our thing, writing to each other.
I was out with Bibi that Saturday, buying school supplies for the new term, when Dotun called. He said one moment you’d all been teasing Tracy about calling her husband to make kissing noises all day, and the next you’d slumped in your chair. He said it had taken a while for them to realize you weren’t playing. In some ways, the first few days after you… those first few days were the hardest. There were all these people here all the time, hovering in the waiting room looking sober. Some of them even had the guts to look purposeful, like they could actually do anything. If it weren’t so sad it would have been funny. Even at home I couldn’t escape them – people bringing food, begging me to eat, take a shower, get some sleep, smile for our girls. They were only trying to help, I know. That didn’t stop me from snapping and running them out of the house. I had Dotun and his wife come and get the girls, so I could break down in peace. If it’s true that you can somehow know things, even while you’re like this, you’ll know that after the first two days I visited you I didn’t come back for weeks. I couldn’t reconcile the man I knew to the form in this bed, so I locked myself in our house, turned off my phone and let the days roll over me. Dotun must have thought I had plans to kill myself or something, cos he called my mum. She rushed down here, took our girls off Dotun’s hands (your brother is a saint, but with three teenagers of his own I’m sure he was relieved to see them go) and commandeered the house. She’s still there, bossing me around. I still haven’t thanked her for it.
Mum helped me realize that with you… asleep, I was all that Bibi and Morayo had left, and that I’d been denying them the comfort I should have been giving. I went to talk to them; told them we would be strong together. I had to convince them, and maybe then I’d believe my own words. They saw my speech for the apology it was and Bibi hugged me and buried her face in my neck. Morayo just stayed leaning against the wall with no expression. Yes, you’re right; Morayo should be in school now. But she got suspended a while ago for fighting some poor girl and tearing her clothes off. All this is really hard on her, you know; you were always her favourite. Well, now she’s here, skulking around the house, getting on mum’s nerves and inviting boys over. Especially that one I hate; that Tony with his smug look and loud, obscene T-shirts. Morayo was wearing one the other day that had breasts and nipples printed over her breasts. I’m sure it was that idiot that gave it to her. I swear ehn… I know you said it’s better for her to bring her friends home so we can keep an eye on them, but it’s all I can do not to smack that chipped tooth out of his mouth! Morayo now has two more piercings in each ear, but at least she’s not sleeping with that Tony. Don’t ask, I just know. She’ll be going back to school soon; the work will be a good distraction. Three more years and she’ll be done with uni, our baby. She’s going to be wanting that graduation party you promised her, so you better stick around.
Bibi started crawling into our bed in the middle of the night some days after my mum brought them back from Dotun’s place. Some nights she wakes me up to ask me about life and where people go when they die. She’s not sleeping well, not eating much either. Maybe I should take her out of school for a while. Her teacher says she’s very quiet in class now and won’t play with the other kids. It’s to be expected, I guess. I’d thought the familiar routine of school might be good for her. I don’t know anymore. You know, Bibi turns nine in two weeks. She hasn’t stopped asking me if you’ll be awake by then. I always smile and distract her with something, and she pretends to go along with it. Mum thinks we should do a small party; says it’ll take our minds off you. I don’t know; it might just make your absence all the more obvious.
Its valentine’s day today and I miss you so much it physically hurts.
Everyone keeps telling me to stay strong, for the girls. They’re too polite to say it, but I know they’re thinking “in case Temi doesn’t make it”. I just smile and say I’ve heard. But hear this: we didn’t survive and stay together all these years for you to come and die on me like this. If you go I’m coming after you. And then I will kick your ass. So if you don’t want your princesses to be orphans, you best not go anywhere. Better still, wake the hell up!
“Well, I refused to sign it yet. This isn’t the ending I want,” Julie said, looking up from the iPad and placing it on the bedside drawer. Her husband’s face registered nothing.
She glanced at the door. She knew the nurses would not approve, but she shook off her shoes anyway and eased herself into the narrow hospital bed with him. If Temi didn’t wake up, a day would come when the doctor would shake his head solemnly and advise her to pull the plug and let him die. When that day came… if it came, she would fight them off. Today, she considered the stubble on his chin. She would leave it on for a while, let it grow, and see how she felt about it later. She fell asleep nuzzling his chin.
The first thing Temi saw when he woke up was the white of the ceiling. He swallowed and tried to speak, but his throat was tight, his tongue like sandpaper. He didn’t know where he was, and he could feel his heart racing, panic building slowly in his chest. Then he recognized a familiar smell; warm and comforting. The smell of home. Temi took the deepest breath he could manage and, inch by inch, started to turn his head toward it.