Unseen Cost: Short Fiction

Hello, hello everyone! We are on our second to last story for my writing challenge. If you missed the previous ones, don’t worry, you can find them here:

Monday: The Best Way
Tuesday: Whirlpool
Wednesday: Buzzkill
Thursday: The Hungry Visitor
Friday: Well

Today’s prompt is: today you can see for the first time in your life. Who have you really been talking to all these years?

Dedicated to Davemeddlehed.

Unseen Cost

The bandages that swathed my head itched horribly and reeked of antiseptics. But that couldn’t stop my heart from racing with excitement. Neither could the ache that throbbed behind my eyes, the stiffness in my neck.

“How do you feel?” Alex asks. She’s been my best friend since junior high, we even went to college together, now we share an apartment. Sometimes she’s been the one thing to keep me sane in the dark world I occupied.

Besides her voice, there only other sounds are the beeping machines that track my heartbeat and the distant murmur of nurses in the echoing halls.

“It hurts…” I paused, trying to make sense of the swirling emotions that stormed my mind. “I’m excited, I think.”

“Imagine how different life is going to be, when you can see. You can finally pick a favourite colour!” She laughed a bit.

“I can finally see you,” I replied.

“Kyle.” A deeper voice – the doctor. “It’s time to take off the bandages. Ms. Moore, can you dim the lights? We don’t want to shock him too badly!”

I listened to the doctor approach, brushing against the side of my hospital bed. The smell of his latex gloves and hand sanitizer as his hands approach my face. I’m excited, yes, but I am also terrified. Terrified something will go wrong, though what, I cannot say. It’s not like they could make my vision any worse.

The bandages whispered as they were pulled away from my face. I kept my eyes shut, even as the last fell away. My heart was a deep booming drum echoing against my ribs. I licked my lips.

“You can open your eyes now, Kyle,” the doctor said.

I did.

First there was light. It stabbed into my pupils like slivers of hot glass, forcing me to blink rapidly, tears pooling over and running down my cheeks.

Then shapes – first fuzzy, then clearer. The end of my bed, covered in white sheets, The doctor to my right. I’d imagined him big and round due to his deep voice, but he was a tiny man with a wrinkled face. The nurse, with dark hair tied up and away, by the door and the window switches. The single window was covered in blinds.

I looked to my left.

The chair was empty.

“Where’s Alex?” I asked, probing every corner of the room with my newly found sight.

“Alex?” The doctor echoed.

“My friend! She was just here!” I pointed to the chair, in case the doctor had somehow gotten my blindness.

He furrowed his brow. An expression I didn’t know. Shook his head.

“You haven’t had any visitors all day, Kyle. There’s been no one here.”

My whole body flashed hot, then icy cold. My limbs trembled. The doctor’s face grew pale and he forced me back against the raised bed.

“Get a sedative,” he called over his shoulder and the nurse ran off.

“She was here! I was talking to her! I know her voice!” I cried, trying to push him from me.

Yes, I knew her voice. But… if I think about it. Had she ever let me touch her? I couldn’t recall. I couldn’t remember.

“Where is she?”

The nurse was back, needle in hand. That same needle sunk into my arm, I felt a cool sensation, a numbing, a sleepiness I did not want.

“Get some rest,” the doctor was saying. “I know this must be overwhelming. I’ll check back on you in a bit.”

My eyelids fluttered lower, creating a false sense of blindness. And in that split second before I fell fully asleep, when I couldn’t see anything at all, I hear her voice, a sad whisper in my ear: “Goodbye.”

x PLM

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