“The doctors saved you, but you’re still dead.”
-Nicole Dollanganger, Coma Baby
When she blinks, there is blood. There is gore splattered across pavement—thick globs of brain tissue, soft rotten remains of skin. The thoughts are constant, seeming to grow intensity. She writes in the bottom corner of the piece of paper in front of her Is it possible for pictures to get louder? The page is blank otherwise. She has to write something—something—to prove she’s okay. To prove she’s happy and productive and still alive. Can I make words splatter on the paper?
There is a knife at her throat. It’s not made of metal, necessarily. It’s more like the infinite weight of oxygen. Or glass, maybe. Cut me open. I dare you. She draws a straight line vertically down her throat, reaches up and pulls apart the petals of her flesh. Reaching down into her throat, her small hands exploring her sensitive red skin. Looking, maybe she’s in there somewhere, hiding and sleeping and breathing in time with the ocean. Nothing. Logically speaking, she knew she wouldn’t find anything. Not in there—she hasn’t been in there for a very long time.
But there might have been something. Something besides blood and severed veins. Maybe something tangible, something that feels more real beneath her palm than the pencil in her hand. Lonely remnants of sense. Anything left behind when her head cracked open.
When she looks down, she sees that she’s been sketching. A crude scribbled study of a roadkill deer. It’s the one she killed, with the keys to her sister’s car. She stumbled into the rain, power high from the tall rubber tires, fucked up she fucked up that stupid fucking deer. Stupid animal. She was glad—glad it was dead.
Or—no. Maybe she cried when she hit it. Maybe her sister had been driving. Maybe she had been the deer. There’s not much left before the shaky pills, the tumble down the stairs.
(S u i c i d e a t t e m p t.)
She tries to erase the words off the page. Calling it that scared her. She didn’t want to believe that’s what she had done. Not her. Not me. Not real.
The piles of paper on the desk are reduced to ash before she can even light the match. Gone. She didn’t want to write anymore. Didn’t want to stretch her bones any further. Didn’t want her brain to go any faster—wanted to make the blood pictures STOP. But the deer had been standing in the road, and she’d had plenty of time to stop. Things weren’t so fast then. And the pills, she knew exactly how many she had counted out. She’d cleared her computer of any search history involving overdose numbers. The puking and the spasms, she wasn’t dying then. She wasn’t killing herself.
Not dead. Not real. The deer thing had never happened—that was just a metaphor (or something) she’d come up with in the hospital. Or the doctor did. The pictures didn’t happen. There isn’t anything dead here.
She lies back on her bed, looks up at the dripdrop ceiling. She has still has to write something. Has to turn something in before they’ll believe she’s better. She’d heard—somewhere (?)— that napping could help with writer’s block. She held her eyelids down to keep them shut, used the rhythm of her breaths to try and rock herself to sleep. She couldn’t hear her breaths, though. She couldn’t feel her lungs move. Only think that maybe she’s still not dead.