|08/31/04 - I will gradually be uploading more recent works in the coming months...|
This is a piece I am currently revising/expanding to novel length. When I first wrote it three years ago, it was about 15 pages. While it still has far to go, I am loading up the first several pages. This work is fiction, two main characters that couldn't be further apart with their religious beliefs, but are drawn to understand each other when a fatal situation changes both their lives.
I remember the beginnings of spring each year when the rains came. It always seemed that around April, you could always count on a shower nearly every three days. The days would get warmer, muggy, and by mid afternoon, rain would mist everything for a couple of hours. The Midwest, even up here in Ohio on the outskirts of what one would call the Midwest, was famous for it. Like clockwork, it was God’s message to all the farmers to start preparing for the growing season. I would sit out on the porch with my mother, drinking Lipton’s iced tea, listening to the rain gurgling through the gutter above our heads and slick off the roof. Sometimes thunder accompanied those showers, booming through the sky like a shot from a cannon, reminding me that there was a greater power that I had yet to see.
Does it count as experience? The other thunder, the sound of those bullets in the jungle, the mines hidden in the underbrush by children, the one meant for my brother. This finally forced me into leaving my parents house almost a year after I graduated from high school and two months after the government notified us of my brother’s death. It was January, a bitterly cold Ohio winter at the beginning of a new decade. Snow was on the ground, covering the sidewalks and front steps of Hausen Dormitory at Kent. Just a few days into the second semester, I was moving in, boxes in tow, ready to father my education at the university.
“Hey, I’m Allison.” A tall girl with iron straight black hair held the door for me. “Need help?”
I walked inside the lobby area, smiling back. “That would be great. My parents couldn’t make it up here.” Allison took the box from me, and I stuck out my hand. “My name’s Janice Elsworth.”
“Oh, Janice! That’s right; I remember talking with you on the phone. You’re Denise’s new roommate.” Allison balanced the box on her hip, shaking my hand. “Artist, right?” I nodded. “Me too. We can talk. I’ll take your stuff up to Denise, then come back down to help with the rest.”
I smiled, unpocketing my keys. “I’m grateful. This means a lot.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. We’re all friends here at Kent.”
After our first meeting, Allison and I were nearly inseparable. She introduced me around the University, getting me acquainted with the other students and faculty. Even though I came at the beginning of the semester, it was still some adjustment because I had missed the first part of the school year. Allison more than made up for this fact, dragging me along to art happenings and parties. And as the weather warmed up, we moved from tie-dying our clothes in the dormitory bathtub, to double-dating some art boys at the local burger hop.
Early on in our relationship, I had confided in Allison about my brother’s death. She in turn educated me about the war and the atrocities that were occurring all the time under the blanket of resolving conflict.
“Janice, you have to understand, this isn’t an isolated incident. They are taking these untrained young men, putting guns in their hands, and telling them to blow up everything they see. All for some convoluted political agenda. None of us really knows the real reason we’re over there. Nixon’s kept it as vague as possible.”
I’d take the cigarette from
here, inhaling the marijuana into my lungs. Sometimes we’d have these
conversations alone, but it was increasingly regular for there to be
others in the room. The anger towards the war was growing. I could
feel it like a sickness. So could my roommate, Denise, who would leave
the room when she heard one of these discussions taking place. Denise
held onto the belief that the government knew what was best for the
county and obviously had a good reason to send our boys over to Vietnam.
“Why doesn’t someone say something? Why don’t we protest?” I passed the cigarette to Alan, the economics student who was sitting next to me on the hardwood floor. He was picking at the hem of his threadbare bellbottoms, looking around at the other nine sitting in a crescent shaped circle in my closet sized room. Heavy silence doused the heat of conversation, and I pushed up to my feet, walking over to the two paned window that over looked this side of Kent. It was April already, and rain gently misted my view of campus. I put my hand against the cool glass, leaning against it with my eyes closed, listening to the rain. Instead of comfort, I felt the ugliness of my brother’s death, and the helplessness of this situation.
It was the end of April before I realized how helpless we all really were. It was eight on a Thursday night and Denise and I were both in our room, Denise listening to the new Stones record while I read an art history text book. Allison came into our room without knocking, out of breath, clutching a battery powered transistor radio. Denise gave her a look, standing up from her crouched position by the record player on the floor.
“I came here as soon as I heard. Here, listen.” Allison sat down next to me on the bed, the radio in her lap. She turned up the volume.
“….that an incursion into Cambodia has been launched by the United States combat forces. Again, President Nixon has addressed the nation tonight to announce that we are indeed entering Cambodia….”
I met her gaze, seeing the anger in her eyes. “This has to stop, Janice. This can’t go on. This killing…”
It was the first time I had seen her cry and I was shocked for a moment, watching her face pinch up, tears squeezing out from the corners of her closed eyes.
I took her into my arms, feeling the tremor in her body. I remembered Steve, the memory of crying with such anguish in the brown coordinated living room of my parents’ house, sitting on the rattan couch next to the military officer who was sent to inform us that our loved one had perished defending this beautiful country. All that military man could do was pat my back to console me, repeating the honor with which Steve would have in the hearts of Americans. I wanted to throw my tea glass at him. I wanted to stain the blue officer’s jacket he wore, rip the medals from his right breast. But I didn’t.
Denise suggested Allison stay with us that night. I think she was more disturbed by Allison’s reaction than the actual incursion into Cambodia. It was hard for me to be unbiased, because this war had already affected me in ways it hadn’t for a majority of the students at Kent. I believed Allison shared the same apprehension I did. She knew this action by the government wasn’t going to sit well with everyone. Something was going to break.
I couldn’t sleep that night, longing for the sound of rain to lull me to rest. The rhythmic breathing of Allison curled up against me was finally enough to focus on, but the day’s events followed me into my dreams.
The next morning marked the beginning of May and the last day of classes for that week. I woke up at seven to get to my Renaissance History class, and then followed that with some time in the painting studio, working on a piece Allison and I had started as collaboration. She had another class at that time, so we took turns at the canvas alone. Looking at my watch, it was nearing 11:45, the time classes would end for the period. I walked out from the art building and went to the Commons to meet Allison for lunch.
A mass of people was gathered around one of the walkways to the Commons. I paused, watching the situation, wondering what was going on.
“Janice! Janice!” I saw Allison amidst the crowd, yelling at me and swinging her arms. I pushed my way in, standing next to her. This close I could see what the commotion was about.
There was a man kneeling in the grass, using a small weed shovel to dig a hole in the ground. He picked up a thick packet of folded sheets behind him, placing it into the shallow grave. Using his hands, he threw big clods of earth back into the hole, his actions bringing about cheers from the people closest to him. Most of the others were talking loudly, asking questions to what was going on.
“What was that?” I asked Allison. Her face was bright.
“A copy of the Constitution. He is protesting the entrance of American troops into Cambodia.”
There were nearly five hundred people watching as the most recognizable symbol of U.S. integrity, besides the flag, was buried in the ground.
Who could have known, really? Who could have guessed this was a sign not just of the increasing student distrust in government, but of the failure of that same government? It has been said that in times of war the government can take any action to defend itself, even against its own citizens to prevent an uprising. I learned this in history back in high school. Unfortunately, I think I missed the part by any means necessary. Can a country actually murder its own citizens?
The next few days seemed
like the transformation of our democratic campus into its own military
run state. On Friday, May 1st, a riot broke out around
midnight at the Kent bar area. Allison, several others and I listened
to the news reports through the campus radio station. A few stores were
trashed and property was defaced, but there was no effort by the Kent
police to break up the crowd and the riot went on until the early hours
of Saturday morning.
Allison and I walked to the commons at seven that night, after getting a phone call from Alan. A state of emergency had been called the night before because of the rioting and there were rumors around campus that the National Guard had been called in.
“I find that hard to believe. The riot wasn’t even on campus.” As Allison and I neared the Commons, we could hear the yelling, and then see the mass of people near the ROTC building on campus. The Reserve Officers Training Core had been a target for quite a lot of violence over the past year.
“What are they doing?” I asked her, watching as someone threw a Molotov cocktail into a broken window of the building. I couldn’t help the high pitch to my voice.
“Ally! Janice!” Alan ran to us, grabbing us excitedly. People were attempting to burn the ROTC building to the ground.
“We need to leave.” I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. Allison held my arm.
“Let’s stay, please, Janice? Just a little while. If the fuzz comes, we’ll bust out, okay?”
I agreed to stay against my better judgment, to look out for Allison more than anything. A half an hour went by and a lot of the crowd left because their attempts to light the old brick structure were futile. Eventually, a smaller crowd with much more determination got the building ablaze by nine. Shortly after that, the Kent Municipal Fire Department arrived, trying to fight the raging fire. The mob was hysterical at this point, throwing stones at firemen and slashing hoses. I had long since lost Allison.
I sat on my knees next to a big elm in the Commons, watching the spectacle from a distance. I could hear the crackle of the blaze, the yells of the people tormenting the firemen. No policemen. Not one.
I watched in amazement as the firemen retreated. The students were actually having their way, forcing the only possible saviors away from the burning structure.
“Janice! We have to get out of here!” Allison was running towards me, pointing erratically. “It’s the National Guard! It’s the fucking National Guard!”
We managed to find our way quickly back to the dorm. Watching the military presence outside the window, I vowed to her that I wouldn’t get involved in this. It was too dangerous.
On Sunday, I slept in, finally getting good night’s rest, the first in months. When I woke up, I put on my robe and headed over to Denise’s record player, taking off the Stones album and replacing it with Crosby, Stills and Nash. I rifled through my drawers for some clothes and then headed to the showers.
Feeling much better, enough to sing to myself when walking back down the hall, I was surprised to find the room congested with people on my return.
“There’s been a news conference, Janice.” Allison was irate. Alan was behind her, picking at his nails, nervous. “Governor Rhodes, he said, oh my God…”
“He said they’re going to use every means necessary to eradicate the problem, that the students here are the worst kind of people, worse than communists.” Alan spoke calmly, finishing the story for her.
Allison looked at him for a moment, then back at me. “Anyway, there is going to be a sit in. Dry your hair and let’s go.”
“Allison, I’m not going.” She pursed her lips but I wouldn’t give in this time. I didn’t want to be a part of it. “I have to study for that Renaissance test tomorrow. I can’t.”
She paused, her mouth relaxing slightly. “Oh, alright. I’ll see you tonight.”
The rest of Sunday was uneventful. Denise was gone the entire day on a visit home to see her parents. I didn’t even leave for dinner, eating from a box of wheat crackers Denise had by the bed while I sketched a still life set up in the corner of the room. I fell asleep reading the art history book, music playing on the radio in the background.
Monday, May 4th, 1970 began like many before it. I went to class, took a test, and then headed to the art building to paint for a few hours. The class period ended at 11:45 and I walked out to the Commons to meet Allison for lunch.
A mass of people was gathered, and I noticed the National Guard presence immediately, military all around the crowd. A highly medaled officer was yelling into the crowd through a mechanical speaker, his voice not carrying well. Some of the students were screaming obscenities; others were throwing rocks.
I turned to see Allison. “What’s going on?” This was crazy.
“You missed it last night, man, oh my God. They used tear gas on us, and fucking bayonets. Some kids got slashed pretty badly.”
At that moment the big victory bell near the Commons started to ring, a gathering of students around its housing. And then the tear gas started.
“It’s windy, don’t worry, it won’t last.” Alan was behind us. I was watching the guards as they directed people into groups. “Come on, let’s go this way.”
We followed him and a group of other students up Blanket Hill, many in the group still throwing rocks and yelling at the guards. Many of the guards were following us, but stopped at the small football field near Blanket used for practice. Fifteen of us made it to the Prentice Hall parking lot. One guard fired his M16 into the air, but they looked confused and scattered up on Blanket Hill.
|The crowd was starting to break up, though part of the group was still throwing rocks. For a moment, it looked like the guards were retreating. But then nearly thirty of them turned around 180 degrees, walked back a few steps, then started firing their M16s directly into those of us standing in the Prentice Hall parking lot|
That 13-second moment of continuous gunfire at Kent State was the pinnacle of American protest of the Vietnam War. Nine students were injured and four were murdered. Two of those killed weren’t even protestors, but students on their way to class.
I will always remember that sound. It seemed to go on forever, along with the surreal visual of students running away and dropping to the ground, screaming. I think of Steve. This is how he must have felt in Vietnam. This is how it felt to watch your best friend die. Just like your brother.
I am not afraid. I know this now, listening to the rain outside. Alan stands in front of me, in my living room in Michigan, the first time I have seen him in eight years. It is 1979, and the United States government is finally holding a trial for those killed and maimed in the Kent State Massacre.
“You know, it did not rain that day. Not a cloud in the sky, Alan. But I’ll never forget the thunder.” He looks confused but I do not explain. I take his hand and pick up my umbrella on the way out the door.
“I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world;
again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”
- John 17:28
“I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe.
From me all things proceed and unto me all things must return.”
- Charge of the Goddess
“Get down on the floor!”
Red couldn’t believe this. The yell hardly registered with the image ten feet in front of her, the three large men in heavy black and ski masks welding automatic guns. Two of them jumped the counter while the other one stood in the main bank area to instruct the ten or so people, those who seconds ago been going about their days in peace.
Red flattened her tall body on the polished white tile floor of National Bank. An old couple was crouched next to her, the short, weathered man looking near heart attack. Three single patrons in business dress were scattered nearby, an overweight security guard, a pregnant mother with a whimpering little blonde boy, and a tall, young-looking priest with two older nuns in full dress, one of the black clothed women holding a large cotton bag inscribed with Charity for Children above a cartoon drawing of a swing set. Red absorbed the manic scene quickly, arching her neck back around, resting her chin on the smooth tiles. She pulled her blue vinyl deposit bag closer, stealthy slipping it into the inside of her black velvet coat. Even with the direness of the situation, money problems forced her hand. Her clothing store, DesignX, needed every penny of its earnings to stay in business.
Red had arrived here ten minutes before three to make the morning deposit. She had expected the bank to be empty, too late for the lunch crowd, too early for the patrons that crammed right before closing. Instead, she was now a participant, again, in a bank robbery. She bit her lower lip, watching the old man to her right grab at his chest. She slid her body a little closer to him, touching his cool hand.
“Breathe deep. Focus on calming yourself,” she whispered. Red saw the fear in his dark eyes and squeezed his brown hand. “Just don’t make any sudden movements and they won’t hurt you.”
He nodded, offering her a weak smile as his wife pulled him closer. Red looked back up at the robber in black towering above them. He appeared nervous, the eyes behind the ripped holes in the mask skittering over them, his hand tapping against the trigger of his large gun.
“Nobody move! Nobody breathe or I’ll blow your fucking heads off!”
Nice. Red heard the two men in the back, yelling orders. A woman was saying something, then a slap. Good. At least they hadn’t used the gun to hurry her along.
Red was surprised at her own calm in this situation. Of course, she assumed that being a victim in the last robbery had probably helped her nerves this time around. That was the main thing she was in shock over. How could it happen twice? She grunted, the sound muffled against the sleeve of her coat, propped up against her cheek. Red should have changed locations after the first time, but finding a good bank in downtown Chicago wasn’t an easy feat.
The robber in front of them turned back to the counter. “Hurry up! Hurry up!” He was getting impatient with his friends. Bad for us.
Red glanced at the people behind her again. The pregnant woman was lying on her side, her eyes squeezed shut, the boy pulled up against her chest. The little boy was quiet now, sucking his thumb and holding onto his mother.
Two of the single patrons were quiet, the other one sobbing with her hand in her mouth. Red knew that of any of them, the woman crying would be the first to go. She was the noisemaker, and didn’t have the obvious moral baggage like the pregnant woman, the boy, or the nuns.
Both nuns were praying. Nothing came from their mouths, but their lips were moving, one clutching the crucifix around her neck, the other holding white and pink rosary beads. The young priest was between them, his hands on their backs. He looked up, his eyes locking with Red’s. He’s not scared. She blinked, waiting for him to mouth something at her, some sort of comfort or religious blessing. Instead, he just stared, his green eyes luminous. Expressionless. It seemed like he held her gaze forever, but she was aware of the space-time exaggeration in this situation. The last robbery had seemed like hours, when in fact it took less than five minutes.
The priest turned to the security guard. Red followed his eyes, seeing as the guard shifted his heavy body on the tiles. His hair-covered hand slipped slowly to his side, flicking the snap off of the holster on his waistband. His hand circled around the butt of his gun.
No! Red felt her whole body tighten, her muscles cording painfully around her midsection. Her eyes blurred, numbed the scene as if it were a sitcom, a made-for-TV movie. These hours became seconds once again….
The guard was on his feet, his belly jiggling with the sudden movement, his small rent-a-cop pistol out in his burly right hand. He was yelling something, his voice wavering with his own nervousness. Red couldn’t understand him, her body preparing itself for the attack she knew instinctively was coming.
The robber in front of them whipped around, his mouth gaped, all blackness in the small ripped hole made for air. The hand with the gun flung around, rising up as the security guard started shooting.
Red heard the scream, then someone yelling behind her. She saw the little boy push away from his mother, running somewhere among the bullets whizzing past her head.
Oh, God, oh, God! The scene tilted and Red gasped in, forcing herself to focus. Don’t lose it, Red. The two other robbers jumped back over the counter, shooting at the lone security guard. The guard was jerked back, holes littering his body, his blood soaking like crimson ink stains across his beige uniform. One more shot slit through the side of his head, and then he was lost, collapsing on the shiny white tiles as his blood pooled around him. His hand rose up as if to deliver one more shot, but flung sideways with the impact of another bullet. The gun spun out, careening across the tiles and coming to a stop.
She looked at the metal piece lying innocently on the tile inches from her chin. The sound of the robbers still shooting into the group of hostages was muffled as her head throbbed, her ears ringing. They’re still shooting. They’re shooting at us. Get up. Get up. She grasped the pentacle hanging around her neck, squeezing the silver in her palm. Give me strength, Goddess Mother.
She let go of the talisman, reaching her hand out to the gun. The feel of the metal in her hands brought back memories of shooting cans in the backyard with an ex-boyfriend. The last time she had held a gun had been more than a decade ago.
Red started shooting from the floor, confusing the attackers. She pushed to her feet, her knees almost giving way. She ignored her muscles shaking, running to the bank counter while trying to fire the weapon as accurately as possible. Draw their fire away from the others! She held that thought, moving, moving, constantly along the marble counter.
One of them fell, losing his gun as he dropped to the floor next to the security guard. One of the hostages hunch towards the downed robber. Red’s vision was getting hazy, but she continued on. One of the two robbers started screaming and they both turned, running to the doors. The glass panels shattered as the men shot them out, both fleeing, leaving the third behind.
It’s all right. I hear sirens. Yes. I’d recognize that sound anywhere. After all, she was a child of the city. She smiled despite herself, and for the first time tasted blood in the back of her mouth. Her smile faltered, and she tried to focus through the haze. The child crying in the corner, his face against the ceramic base of a potted plant by the door. He wasn’t hurt. Thank you. She closed her eyes, her legs giving out.
Red opened her eyes again, seeing the face of the priest and his large, soft green eyes. She felt his legs under her back, his arm supporting her head. His hand was under her breast, pressing against her ribcage. She looked down, seeing the blood matting the black velvet of her coat. The hole through the front.
Red heard the whistling now, knew it came from the side of her body. Shit. You messed up, Red. You messed yourself up really nice this time. Her lung was making that sound.
She tried to smile, tried to say something to the man above her. He shook his head.
“Don’t talk. Save your energy.”
The pain was starting to set in, the adrenaline peeling away slowly to
reveal what had been done to her body. She sobbed, the action causing
pain, her side gurgling. The sound of her body was too much and she
squeezed her eyes shut. It’s too much, too much. She fought
against it as the haze turned red and she lost her hold on the world.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
- Acts 20:35
“An in it harm none, do as ye will.”
- Wicca Rede
She heard the multitude of sounds at the same time she was aware of her body moving in this horizontal position. The smell burned in her nostrils, Lysol and blood, the pungency of sterile death. It would have been hell, but she didn’t believe in that.
“…cc’s of blood, stat! Punctured lung, looks like lower lobe, anterior basal, right side. X-rays. There’s one lodged in deltoid, no exit wound…”
Red chanced a look, blinking her eyes once, the lights above her, the sounds and people making her dizzy. The pain was still ravaging through her body, but numbed by the painkiller she knew was being dosed through the IV in her inner elbow. Her body was also cold, freezing really, and she knew it was because of her blood loss. She had watched the Discovery Channel Surgeries enough to know the signs. I’m dying.
Red opened her eyes again, forcing herself this time to keep them open. She was being wheeled inside now, though she still heard the ambulance through the ER doors. There was a man in scrubs at the head of her stretcher, and two to her right, one with his hands on her body. Red glanced down, surprised to see her nude torso, the pale skin matted with blood. Parts of her jeans still encased her thighs and she assumed in the ambulance they had cut most of her clothing from her body. Her velvet coat was probably ruined. I worked so hard on that. It had been one of her first designs. Red stared, noticing her pentacle missing.
Red looked to her left, surprised to see the priest walking alongside as the stretcher was moved from the brightly lit hallway into a darker operating room.
“I suppose you’re here to give me my last rites?” Her voice was gaspy, and for a second, she didn’t think anyone could hear it except for her. His simple face creased with a small smile, his soft green eyes comforting. Red smiled back, despite herself. Then she noticed the pentacle in his hands. The vision didn’t register for a moment.
“I’m a witch.” She felt it imperative to inform him.
“I know.” He touched her face, his hand soothing. “Don’t think, just pray. They’re going to perform surgery on you.” He was quiet, and then smiled again, his hand on her cheek. “You were very brave, Malena.”
Red hadn’t been called that in years. She started to say something, then choked on the words, the side of her body sputtering with the effort. She closed her eyes, shocked she could hear the inside of her lung.
“Don’t talk.” The doctor at the head of her stretcher was stern. A nurse was behind him, focusing a large ethereal white light above her body, moving closer with a mass of equipment on wheels. They injected something else into her IV, another nurse hanging up a new blood bag on the separate IV going into her left side.
Red had to try. Just one more time. She had to know. “Is everyone…okay?”
“The security guard and one of the robbers are dead. Another one of the assailants is here in critical condition. Two of the people have wounds, but nothing serious.” He seemed to read her mind. “The old man is doing okay, no heart attack. The little boy and his mother are fine.”
Red nodded, knowing she couldn’t ask much more. Her lung ached, her head leaving her again. They were drugging her back into unconsciousness for surgery.
“Father Clarence, we’re going to have to ask you to leave.” A female doctor was next to him, her hand on his black-clothed shoulder. He nodded, his eyes never leaving Red’s.
“You’ll be fine. And I will be right here. I won’t leave, Malena. I won’t leave you.”
She heard his words, but they hardly registered. She was floating again, a part of the haze her body spun around her to protect her from herself.
“For he had healed many;
insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him…
and unclean spirits when they saw him, fell down before him and cried, saying,
thou art the Son of God.”
- Mark 3:10-11
“Great God Apollo,
God of medicine and healing, hear this servant’s prayer.
Heal me. Touch me and pull the sickness out of me.
Make me well with your cleansing touch.”
- Apollo Healing Ritual
The dull pain brought Red into consciousness. She knew morphine or some other drug probably numbed most of the pain. Her body still ached all over, most of it centered around her ribcage, in her ribcage, her shoulder, and a little on her thigh. She was really glad she had the painkiller. A believer in natural medicine, Red usually drank tea for discomfort. Tylenol was for muscle cramps. But she was reality-based enough to know she wouldn’t have made it without modern day strength painkillers.
Red felt the bed under her body, the frame angled up so she was almost sleeping sitting up. Several pillows were propped underneath her head, and she was aware of the multitude of wires and tubes coming and going from her arms. She felt the drainage tube attached to her right side and the air tubes up her nose. God, I’m a car stereo. She opened her eyes, squeezing them shut against the crustiness and trying again. She obviously had been under for quite awhile. She remembered bits and pieces of waking up with nurses, and arriving at the hospital, but it was all hazy, like dreams.
The room was dark, the only light coming from the buttons on the two large machines to her left and from the hallway, the door ajar by three inches. The large window had the blinds drawn, but she could tell from the slivers between them that it was night.
Her bed was the only one in this large room. Red imagined that her injuries had been excessive enough they let her have her own room. Or something. The thought of how she was going to pay for all of this suddenly came into her head and she cringed. Don’t think about it now, Red. You’ll only make yourself sick. She bit her lip. She’d find a way to get the money. Yeah, like selling your soul, or something. Great.
She shook her head, looking to her left. The bedside table was filled with flowers and cards, matching the floral abundance at the foot of her bed. Next to the arrangement of carnations closest to her, a small altar had been set up, several purple and white candles surrounding a large clear quartz crystal. A cotton sachet was an inch to the right, and by the smell, Red assumed it was a healing mixture of allspice, gardenia, and something else sweet. Wow, they really must have thought I was going to die. She glanced at the card on the flowers closest to her. Malena Forsythe. Her old name. These flowers weren’t from anyone that had known her in the past five years.
She leaned to the table, gasping in when the pain skyrocketed through her lung. Fuck, fuck, fuck. She grimaced, getting a card and settling back in. This one was addressed to Red Moonchild. She smiled, reading further down. Lots of love and hugs from Jaqie, her best friend and co-owner of DesignX. Red held the card against her heart, as much as she could with the drainage tube in the way. Her elbow knocked against fur and she looked down, almost giggling with glee. Her teddy bear Triskit was propped against her side. The battered blue-furred monster bear had been her favorite toy for over twenty years. Jaqie must have brought him in when she had come to visit.
Red frowned. How long have I been here? When she had first woken, she had thought maybe a few hours. Now it was becoming clearer that she had probably been here for days. She glanced over to her left, looking at the light from the door again. That’s when she noticed the figure sitting in a chair propped against the far wall.
(I'll add more to this later.... Please note it is still in rough format...)
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