Misplaced: A Short Story

Misplaced: A Short Story

Imagery by Blue Linden

I blink my eyes a few times and watch the room blur into focus. I hear the beep of the heart monitor and see my younger sister in the hospital bed. My eyes trail down her arms where the IV is dangling off of her, like a leech that is sucking her life away. Bess coughs weakly and I wince with her gasping intake of breath.

My older brother, Mark, elbows me. “Stay awake!” he snaps quietly, jerking his head toward my parents who are sobbing. I blink a few more times. My mom is fully supported by my father, tears openly flowing down her face. If I hadn’t known why she was unconsolable, I would have joked that she looked like the “loudly crying face” emoji. My father isn’t looking much better. His head is in his hands and his chest is racked with sobs. I, on the other hand, can’t produce any tears. I don’t want to believe that my younger sister, Bess, has a one in a million chance of surviving. I won’t believe it.

The doctor is saying some stupid nonsense that is supposed to console my parents. I don’t believe it. Any of it. I rush out of the room and fumble away somewhere, anywhere, away from that room. I can feel the pressure I’m putting on the floor as my shoes slap the sleek, white marble. I run to get away from the smell of a hospital, that strong disinfecting alcohol odor that worms its way into my nose, the doctor with the stupid consolation, everything.

And suddenly, I’m not. Suddenly I’m sitting in the hospital bed, the IV leech is hanging from my arm. I’m watching my parents sob and a thought, not my own, says I don’t need them to worry about me. It’s not directly addressed to me, but I have a feeling that the person who thought it also wants me to know.

I’m okay, Tess. Again, not me. But this person seems to know me, care for me, and love me. Could I be in Bess’s very position? No. That’s impossible. I can’t be in Bess’s mind, seeing what she’s seeing, hearing what she’s hearing. That’s crazy! …Right?

Unless it’s not. Because if I’m not dreaming, and I know I’m not, then this has to be real. This. Has. To. Be. Real. So… If I’m really in Bess’s mind, can I send a thought back to her?

Bess? I call out in my mind as a test, wondering if I’m just going crazy.

Tess? Sis? pops up, and I can’t tell whether to be amazed or very, very crazy.

I’m here.

Good. Bess tells me. I’d wondered how long it would take you to receive my message.

Message? I ask, confused. What do you mean, a “message”?

How do you think you’re here? She makes her body, but right now “our” body, laugh a wheezy, light laugh. Our parents abruptly turn to Bess’s body, concerned as to what was happening.

“She laughed,” my mom said, unbelieving.

“Probably just going hysterical before her death,” the doctor said, bored, before turning back to our parents and continuing to drone on about her “death”.

Grrrr… Bess and I both go.

I HATE him. Bess says.

Me too. He’s so depressing. I agree with Bess. He thinks you’re going to DIE.

Tess… You know I w- Bess gently tries to correct me, but I interrupt her.

-on’t die. I finished. WON’T.

Will. She tells me. I will die.

Each word cuts into my heart. The words that have been spoken too many times are now confirmed by Bess herself. All the hope I had before was gone.

You… Will… Die… I repeat haltingly, not believing that Bess has given up.

I will always be with you. She reassures me.

What use are those lies? They’re never true. You’re going to be DEAD! I yell back to her.

And on that note, I’m transported back to the hallway, just a few doors down from Bess’s room. I’ve sunk down to the cold, hard floor and have my back against the wall. A nurse walking by asks me if I need help getting up. I’m about to decline her offer when I realize that my feet are asleep and I can’t get up on my own. I accept and she leads me to the room I just ran away from. Before I enter, I hear a strangely familiar voice say, “Tell my sister I’m sorry for this.”

“Tell me what?” I ask, walking into the room. The first thing I notice is the curtain around Bess’s bed. Is she already dead? I ask myself. The second thing I notice is the horror on my parents’ faces. I can tell the doctor is struggling to remain calm when he says, “We have a bit of a problem.” He pulls away the curtain from Bess’s bed and I gasp.
I’m not looking at Bess. I’m looking at myself.