He wants to cry out. Not in pain, there is only numbness at the moment, but rather in anguish. Frustration. But he’s not able, as his breath is being forced into his lungs, pushing his voice deep inside.
Where? Why? How? Before he can seek answers, gravity takes hold, and he’s pulled into a freefall. As he descends, he remembers the bike. Racing down the hill. The wind in his face. The sun shining bright. His smile ever so wide. Just as he leans into a winding curve, the beep-beep-beep of a backing truck catches his attention and he tries to swerve.
But he’s going too fast.
There’s a thud as he finds terra firma once again. But nothing more, as the numbness remains.
Yet, somewhere off in the distance the beep-beep-beep of the truck continues, a melodic accompaniment to the slow, steady rhythm of the heavy breathing that seems to fall in sync with the rise and fall of his chest.
He comes to realize his eyes are closed, the gray his own efforts at shading the unwelcome light of reality. He knows it’s time. Time to open them. But a cement-like crust seals them tight. He contorts his face in makeshift “squints” over and over until at last the concrete gives way.
Now, narrow slits. But it’s bright...too bright.
* * *
Dr. Roberts sits across from Mr. And Mrs. Samuelson, his face somber, fingers interlaced. “I know we’ve had this conversation a number of times over the last six months, but, I think, as much as it hurts deep inside your hearts, you two must realize we’re at a juncture where you have to start weighing what’s best for your son. Jasper’s shown no progress since his bike accident, and despite our ongoing efforts, he remains comatose. Having been in an unresponsive state for this long, I fear we’re well past the point where recovery is a probability.”
Tears streaming down her cheeks, her head shaking, Mrs. Samuelson buries her face into her hands. “I...I...I...” She turns to her husband. “What should we do?”
He, too, is crying. “We can’t just leave him on the machines forever. He wouldn’t have wanted that. We wouldn’t want that.” He gasps in a long breath and shifts his gaze to the doctor. “What do you think is best?”
“You, ultimately, have to make that decision, my friends. But I wouldn’t think Jasper would want to live out his existence tied to some machines. I would opt for dignity. I would remove him from the—“
He’s cut off as the door flies open and a nurse, her eyes wide, face flush, rushes in. “So sorry to interrupt, Dr. Roberts, but Jasper Samuelson has just opened his eyes...”