6 in Locked-In

  • Nov. 28, 2021, 3:07 p.m.
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  • Public

After what seemed like an eternity in the hospital, the “good news” was given to me. Melissa was going to take me to live with her.

“How nice of Dr. Goldstein,” my doctor said with a big white smile. “You’re very lucky to have someone care about you like that so you don’t have to be just one more person lost in the system, so to speak.”

I wasn’t thrilled at all. I would have given anything to be lost in the system if I couldn’t be dead. I wasn’t stupid. My body was mostly dead, but my mind worked just fine. I knew Melissa didn’t give a shit. Her taking me in wasn’t about her caring for me all of a sudden. It was about revenge. I feared for myself every single minute.

Once the shock finally faded a bit after being told of this so-called good news, I tried to blink my eyes furiously. It was the only way I could think of to send a heads-up to the doctor letting him know that I absolutely did not want to go with Melissa. But not only was this easier to think of than to actually do, the doctor was suddenly called off on an emergency.

Shortly afterward, a nurse came in and noticed my elevated heart rate. “What’s wrong, sweetie?” She gazed down at me in concern. “Is everything alright?”

I blinked twice and tried to shake my head, but all I could do was move it a half-inch to one side.

The nurse continued to study me with both curiosity and concern. “Are you just feeling a little anxious now, honey?”

I didn’t blink at all. I could blink once for “yes,” but I couldn’t explain why, so I chose to keep my expression as still as possible at the moment. Anything else would have to wait until that fateful day of discharge, whenever that was. The doctor didn’t get to finish explaining all the details before he got called away.

There was no clock that I could see from where I lie on the bed. While I was usually unable to tell the time at night, I learned to tell the time of day by the position of the sun’s angle and the shadows outside my window. It was getting late. Melissa, who was like clockwork, would be by soon.

Sure enough, that dreadful moment arrived. She too, wasn’t stupid. I could tell by the concern and suspicion on her face.

I should have feigned sleep. The only problem with that is that my heart rate was a dead giveaway as to whether or not I was actually asleep. Melissa wasn’t a medical doctor, but she was no idiot either.

Glancing toward the door to make sure no one would overhear her, she leaned over the rail and put her face within inches of mine. “Don’t you dare,” she hissed. “Don’t you fucking dare give any kind of hint or clue to suggest that you don’t want to come with me. You’re coming with me and that’s that. Never think there isn’t anything I can do about it if you somehow manage to get it across to them that you don’t want to go with me. There’s plenty I could do about it and none of it would trace back to me. Trust me, you wouldn’t like any of those endless possibilities either. Some may even extend to your family, far away or not”

The nurse returned. “How is she doing now? She seemed to be experiencing some anxiety earlier. I don’t know if she woke up from a nightmare or was thinking of something bothersome or what. Perhaps she was just in a little pain.”

“Oh, that’s natural for her,” Melissa told her with a reassuring smile. “She has anxiety. That’s what I treated her for.”

“Oh, yeah. That’s right. You’re the therapist,” said the nurse, returning the smile. “How kind and caring of you to take her into your home. Not many people would have such compassion. The world needs more people like you in it.”

Melissa flashed a phony smile.

“But how do you pull that off if she was your patient?”

“Special circumstances,” Melissa said as if that explained it all.

“Well, that’s just wonderful of you, Doc.”

If you only knew, I thought to myself. My first instinct was to try to raise awareness once again, but I totally believed Melissa wouldn’t hesitate to make good on her threats and bring even more harm to me or even my family. I mentally tried to will my heartbeat to slow down so as not to draw concerned attention once again.

The nurse eventually left and I was both relieved and dismayed. Should I have taken a chance and tried harder to communicate with the nurse? Most people don’t make good on their threats, after all. Maybe Melissa was just bluffing. Would Melissa really have acted on the threats? I wasn’t sure how she could harm my family, but I could definitely see a number of ways she could harm me.

And so I tried to remain calm and hope that any elevated heart rate was taken for the excitement of leaving and not fear.

Eventually, the doctor returned, and he and the nurse, along with Melissa, took turns talking amongst themselves and to me. They explained that I would be at a daycare center during the daytime while Melissa was at work, then with her in her home the rest of the time.

I watched the water run into a nearby sink as a nurse filled a cup with it, and wished I could escape down the drain right along with it.

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