An excerpt from
Pamela Briggs
Come To My Senses

    I'm not sure where I am right now, and I'm not sure it matters. It'll come to me, or someone will tell me. Or not.
    I try to raise what I think is my arm, and nothing happens. This gives me no clue to where I am. I usually can't move much anyway when I'm There, and Elsewhere I don't have any arms, or anything to move them with. I don't have anything at all – I don't move, period. That is, I move, but there's no space, exactly –
    I'm thinking I must be There, because I'm thinking. I'm analyzing, I'm trying to put things into words. For who? Myself? Getting used to language again? I feel like I'm dictating an article in my head. (Ah, yes. My head. I am There. I have a head!). “Brave Woman Survives Puzzling Coma Against All Odds.” Wish someone would get me one of those computers or letterboards or mouth sticks or something. I could tell them a lot.
    Problem is, I have been able to tell them some things, and it didn't help me, or them. No one will listen to me, anywhere. That's rich, huh? For somebody who speaks as rarely as I do. Every few months (Months! I'm measuring time! More proof I'm There!) I'll break out of the claws of whatever it is that has me prisoner – then I'm able to talk. But no one will let me talk about what's bothering me the most. There, and Elsewhere.
    When I'm There, I love my family, and I appreciate what all the medical people are doing for me. I think I appreciate it. But when I'm lucid and able to speak, I want to tell them where I've been – and no one will let me. They say, Thank God you're awake, and Someone get the doctor, and Are you thirsty? and Do you hurt anywhere?
    I hurt everywhere. I hurt here, There, and Elsewhere.
    I think I'm beginning to see. I'm getting the impression of light. Does that make me an impressionist? It'll be nice to be able to see again. But this light is only a shadow of the Light – the Light that is Elsewhere. Yes, compared to that, this light is like shadow. The Light Elsewhere makes high noon There look like dusk. Brightness is the only way I can describe it, now that I'm There - but it's not really brightness that would hurt your eyes. It's – it's –
    It's more. More and deeper than anything I've ever experienced There. No point in thinking about it now.
    I can't quite see yet, but I feel the potential. I wonder if I'll see Brian this time. Maybe even talk to him. Yeah, something's coming through now. It's a smell. That awful alcohol-paper-gown-sickness smell that makes everyone afraid of the hospital. But I pull it in as much and as deep as I can. It's completely wonderful to be getting my senses back. Reminds me of what I read about the people in the death camps – they were starving, so they looked on a scrap of spoiled meat or a moldy bread crust as a feast.
    Come on, light!
    I feel my body, now. I feel the press of my own skin against skin. Half of my right foot is cold; must be outside the blanket. I'm swaddled in soft warmth threaded with scratchy lace – one of the dorky nightgowns that Mom keeps making me wear. More accurately, the attendants make me wear, but they're only following orders. I was only following orders . . .
    I can feel the needle in my hand, and the half-hearted stickiness of tape that's been pressed, time and time again, on top of the detritus left by the last piece. Clinging only out of a sense of duty, rolling its eyes –
    Ah, I miss Lilac already! More than good, more than warm, more than Light. We filled each other. Still do – I just can't feel it. I can't really tell what they're all doing right now Elsewhere, but I know anyway. They're all sorrowing. They're whirling around me, bathing me in Light and energy, trying to bring me back from my – there's not an accurate word to translate what they call it. Sickness, illness, badness, wrongness. This time when I'm not with them.

© 1998 Pamela Briggs. All rights reserved.

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The Urbanite #10
First appeared in
The Urbanite #10: On Whom the Pale Moon Gleams

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