Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
They told me I was lucky to survive the car crash. As if my life was really worth living in that condition.
I was headed home from cheerleading practice that day. I often think back on that moment, riding in the passenger seat of my boyfriend’s car, the AC on full blast to combat the heat. He had just finished up at football practice himself, and we were talking about the big game on Friday, our plans for the weekend, whether or not to stop by Starbucks on the way home. Inconsequential things that seemed oh so very important at the time. He was so handsome and I… I was beautiful. Life could go anywhere for us, but we were just enjoying ourselves in the moment. Everything in that moment was just so… perfect.
Then the semi blindsided us as were passing through an intersection, striking us on the passenger side and wrapping my boyfriend’s Mustang around its front end.
It was just your typical case of an overworked trucker falling asleep at the wheel. It’s a pretty common thing really. It was just bad timing for all of us really. If the trucker had dozed off on a different stretch of road, if his company had left enough time in his schedule for sleep, if my boyfriend had seen the semi coming, if he had taken a few more seconds after the light had turned green. If any of those things had happened, maybe things would have turned out differently.
The trucker was killed on impact. This wasn’t much of a surprise, given he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. My boyfriend, however, somehow managed to walk away from the crash with only a few cuts and bruises. The newspapers called it miracle so I hear, and perhaps it was. Not so much for me, though.
My right arm and leg were damaged beyond repair, requiring them to be amputated just below the shoulder/hip. I suffered severe organ damage to the point where I lost one of my lungs and kidneys, and my liver and digestive system were barely functioning. In addition to that, I suffered severe third-degree burns in the fire following the crash. This resulted in extensive, severe body and facial disfigurement, to the point where I lost my nose, and one of my ears and eyes. Despite the severity of my condition, I somehow managed to avoid any sort of major head trauma or brain damage. Frankly, at the time, I was hardly thankful for this, as it meant I was fully aware of the terrible condition my body was in.
The days following the accident were a blur of pain and fear. I don’t remember most of it. When I first regained awareness of myself, I was already in my hospital room, hooked up to all sorts of life support. I think I was supposed to be in some sort of medically induced coma, yet somehow I was completely aware. I couldn’t move or look around though, only being capable of listening to what was happening in my room with my now limited hearing. The plus side was that I was more or less numb to the pain of my injuries. It was during this time that I learned of the severity of my condition, mostly through the conversations the doctors and nurses had with my parents. The harsh reality of my situation, along with the anguished cries of my devastated parents, threw me into the cold, empty pits of despair.
I thought a lot about death for that first couple of weeks. If living on meant continuing to exist in that horrid condition, then I figured I would be much better off just dying. I spent my days languishing in my despair, hoping for something to just come along and end it. I prayed to be able to tell my mother, who sat quietly sobbing next to my bed most days, to just pull the plug already. Yet I couldn’t even move, let alone speak. For me, living a life like that, trapped in the prison that was my broken body, was like my own personal hell.
And then that day came.
When I became aware of myself that morning, I found my hospital room to be uncharacteristically loud. I say “became aware” since, in the condition I was in, I didn’t ever really “wake up” per se. It was more so just passing between conscious and unconscious. Sometimes the two would even blend.
I shook off the remnants of my latest nightmare, trying my best to discern what was going on around me. In doing so, I was surprised to find that I recognized most of the voices. They were classmates, friends, members of the football/cheerleading teams and otherwise. My guess was that they had come as a courtesy visit to their ailing classmate. I didn’t appreciate the gesture. I didn’t want them to see me like that: broken and bloody, an empty shell of my former self. It didn’t matter that most of my wounds and scars were bandaged up. Under their piercing gazes, I felt like they could see every disgusting inch of me. If I could have moved in that moment, I would have bitten through my own tongue.
Then I heard the voice that had both dreaded and craved hearing the most: the voice of my boyfriend.
I struggled to fall back into unconsciousness to avoid hearing what he had to say. My mind wouldn’t cooperate though, as I was too distressed by it all to manage it. I had dreaded this moment since I had learned what had happened to me. I knew what he would probably say. What I would probably say if I was in his position. I knew that he would probably leave me. I had figured that it was more or less a given, considering the state I was in. I had accepted that. Though, that certainly didn’t mean that was eager to hear it. I would have much preferred a simple letter, or just never seeing or hearing from him again. Anything but this. I waited, my mind trembling in anticipation of the words I never wanted to hear.
But they didn’t come.
Words came, but they weren’t the words I was expecting. He professed his love for me in a way I had never quite imagined him capable of. He talked about how he intended to stay by me through all of this. Not to anyone in particular. Maybe to himself, maybe to me, but in a way that everybody heard. It felt almost like a scene from a play, but not in a particularly theatrical way. More natural than that.
My heart ached and swelled with a more genuine love than I had ever felt. If you had perhaps asked me before this how I felt about my boyfriend, I wouldn’t have been sure what to say. He was cute and I liked being around him, but I wasn’t sure if there was much of anything deeper than that. However, in that moment, I felt that I truly loved him. I felt hopeful for the first time in a long while. I felt like I might be able to make it.
Some time passed. My classmates started to meander out one after the other. I didn’t pay much of any attention to them, as I was much too focused on the presence of my boyfriend next to me. I thought that maybe I could feel his hand on mine. I wanted to grasp it so badly. I wanted to cry. Eventually, everyone left and it was just the two of us. Or so I thought.
“That was nice.”
I wasn’t expecting the voice. I couldn’t remember for sure, but I was relatively certain that I hadn’t heard it once in the time my class had been here. That’s not to say that I didn’t recognize the voice though. It was the voice of my best friend. I couldn’t say that I had thought of her much throughout my time in the hospital, but I was genuinely happy to hear her.
“Yeah. I think so too.” My boyfriend replied.
“So how long do you think you’re going to keep this up for?”
I wasn’t sure what they were talking about at first, but I started to get a really bad feeling.
“I dunno. I suppose until people forget about her or stop caring.” He paused. “It would be easier if she just kicked the bucket, but it’s looking less and less like that’s gonna happen.”
“I hope it’s sooner rather than later.” My best friend replied, her voice flirty. “I’m real tired of having to tip-toe around.”
“We can’t rush this. If it gets out that we’re hooking up, it’s not going to look good for either of us. Especially this soon after the accident.”
“Okay, okay.” She replied, her tone faux pouty.
I was still reeling from all this when I started hearing the familiar sound of two people making out. My boyfriend’s hand wasn’t anywhere near mine anymore. Perhaps it never was.
There were muffled protests, followed by the distinct noise of lips separating.
“Let’s not do this here. It makes me uncomfortable,” she said.
“Why not? It’s not like she can hear us,” he replied.
“It’s not that.” She replied. “Looking at her is just a real turn-off, you know?”
“Yeah, she is pretty nasty-looking.” He paused. “You know, I think the room next door is empty. Do you wanna…?”
She didn’t reply. Opting to simply giggle. I heard the door open and close. I was alone once more. Alone in the truest sense of the word. I felt numb. I didn’t want to believe it, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I might have even done something similar to him if our positions were reversed. I wondered how long the two of them had been together. Did it happen after the crash? Or perhaps had been going on for long before it? It hardly mattered, really. My emotions were a void of emptiness that I expected to soon fill with familiar despair. In the absence of the little flickering hope that I had been cheated out of, I was certain that everything would seem darker than ever. However, it was not despair that filled that void.
It was pure, unadulterated rage.
Maybe, in truth, I had no right to feel that way, but the feeling filled me all the same. I hated my boyfriend for giving me any semblance of hope for the future. I hated my best friend for stealing all of that away from me. I hated every single member of my class. I hated my parents for being pathetic and weak. I hated the doctors and nurses who failed to do anything more to help me. I hated the truck driver who’s negligence had completely ruined my life. I hated every single person on this earth who would get to live a normal life while I struggled to even barely survive.
I hated everyone.
* * * * * *
“Well, now isn’t this something.”
I was startled. I had thought the room was empty, and I most certainly didn’t hear anyone come in. Perhaps I had dozed off or something. I didn’t have much of a grasp on how much time had passed.
“I was just passing by for some other business but… hmm… this will do nicely.”
I didn’t recognize the man’s voice. It made me uncomfortable. Not just because there was a complete stranger in my room, which was distressing enough on its own. There was just something about the voice that simply bothered me.
“Oh, I’m sorry. How rude of me. My apologies. It just isn’t every day that you come across a soul that despises the world so thoroughly.”
His words only served to confuse and unsettle me further. I felt a… presence of sorts draw closer. I felt it more clearly than I had felt anything in my semi-conscious state. It felt… foul. Like stepping into a pit of slugs with your bare feet, or the squirming of maggots beneath skin. It was so distinct, there was almost a color to the presence: A strange, purplish-red. I imagine the ruptured organs the doctors had to scrape out of my body had a similar color.
“I’m actually quite fond of that description.”
Somehow, I wasn’t surprised that he could hear me.
“Enough pleasantries. It’s about time we got down to business.” He paused. “How would you like to be whole again?”
I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more. But how could this person possibly fix me?
“It’s not that simple really. Organs and body parts don’t exactly appear out of thin air, and the price is certainly steep.”
I would pay any price.
“…yes. I think we can work something out.”
I could almost hear him grin.
* * * * * *
I truly think I was visited by an angel that day. Who but a divine being could give me such gifts?
The man didn’t lie though. The cost was certainly steep. But, in the end, what I got in return was more than worth the price. I seem to be doing fine without it anyway.
It wasn’t easy at first. Moving about was certainly a challenge, but I managed to make it out of the hospital with a little effort. Thankfully my best friend lived rather close to the hospital, so I visited her first. Her limbs were the closest in size and shape to my own, since we were around the same height and both did cheerleading. I always liked her skin tone a lot more than my own anyway, and she certainly had more than enough to spare.
I visited my boyfriend next. He was always really healthy and took good care of himself. As such, in spite of our different genders, he had plenty that I could use. It felt so good when my caved-in stomach swelled up with the newfound organs that he so generously provided for me. I always loved his eye color, and thought that his nose was pretty cute as well. They look even better on me though.
Neither of them admitted to what happened in the hospital room that day. Rather they seemed like they didn’t really know what I was talking about. This didn’t change even as I started to take from them. I suppose that’s a bit odd, but I don’t really care anymore. They were too busy screaming to really say much anyway.
Through a few more visits to friends, classmates, family members, and the like, I was able to fill out the various other bits and pieces I was missing. I was finally whole again! But… I still felt empty inside, even with all my insides intact and plentiful. There was this hollow place deep inside that I simply had to fill.
I needed more.
You understand right? When it comes right down to it, you don’t really need all those parts, do you? You already have two of so many of them, and there’s even a few of them you can live without! I need more. More eyes. More limbs. More mouths. More squiggly bits to make me feel so full inside. I can’t get enough.
Won’t you share with me?
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