Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Well, I'm way late getting my story up tonight. We had snowfall all day long. The power went out--of course--not for very long, but enough to wipe out the story I was working on. So--started from square one.
This is a sort of odd story--autobiographical. I've written about the coma before, but I think it was how strange the world was when I did come out of it that struck me. I've got some work to do on this one still. I think this may be the closest I have come to playing with magical realism, but it's actually an example of magical realism in practice. I really did awaken from a coma to to a world obsessed with Hale-Bopp and the Heaven's Gate mass suicide. Of all the stories I have to tell, this one, with a good bit more work, has possibilities of entering into the realm of magical realism.
They shut my brain down for the Apocalypse but woke me too soon. Outside, the night sky burned, while I lay in a room with no windows listening to the ventilator, acquiring a new vocabulary without awareness.
My eyes opened with sight, sliding out of a two-month coma like the tube from my throat, and the two things I wanted most in life were a bathroom and a cheeseburger. But, it's not like a soap opera where perfect hair curled on a pillow or Kill Bill where Uma Thurman cuts hamstrings before killing.
I forgot how to move or speak, while swimming in the dark reaches, but did not know that, so I uttered noises. I asked for things in words making perfect sense to only me. Nurses smiled and nodded, but needed to be told I was a thinking person, not a slab of breathing meat.
The man capable of saying that arrived with my brother later. He stood in front of a calendar and asked me what day it was--what year was it.
I clearly said, "It's St. Patrick's Day, 1997."
They looked at me confused and I repeated myself. I didn't realize the voice bleeding from my mouth sounded like rocks scraping against asphalt, tarry and thick. I lived inside my head, no longer distinguishing my thoughts from reality.
My brother confirmed it was me, not some stranger who inhabited my failing body during the dark sleep. He asked if he could get me anything, something to eat perhaps.
I mouthed as series of tongueless vowels he correctly interpreted as "I want a cheeseburger."
Fading in and out, listening to the wet music my lungs played, sloshing air in and out of my body, I watched television, learning of Hale-Bopp--how the skies of the world were afire with twin comet tails. Alan Hale spotted the comet from his driveway in New Mexico and Thomas Bopp happened to look through a borrowed telescope in Arizona in 1995, about the time I started getting sick. As the comet became more visible, I faded. When it finally blazed onto the canvas of the night, visible to the naked eye in January of 1997, they shut my brain off.
After they woke me, Hale-Bopp was on every television station, streaking across the sky like some monstrous shooting star. I watched pictures of it and eavesdropped on conversations. I felt connected to it, as if it meant something to me.
My brother said, "You have to see this thing. If you can, get somebody to wheel you up to the roof."
The colors of the comet melted into the surreal morphine haze of my life. The sounds of voices were distant during those days and my eyes made everything glow like Monet's vision. The comet was a benign presence I brought back with me from the coma world I left behind, a place where dreams played in an endless loop, firing synapses like oil dripping on a machine.
But there were dark dreams in the coma world, dreams I wanted to leave there. Nine days after they brought me back, I thought one of those dreams had pierced through, exploding into the world.
I never saw the comet.