I awoke with a start as alarms going off all around me. I looked at the young woman lying on the bed and knew she was gone. With tear-filled eyes, I moved to take her hand and noticed the pen. She must have been writing in her diary, even at the end. But where was it? As the medical staff rushed to the room I looked around and saw it on the floor by my feet.
“I’m sorry, sir, you need to clear the area.” said one of the nurses as he pushed me aside. “You can wait in the waiting room.”
What else would I do in a waiting room? I almost asked, but decided to do as instructed. I used my foot to push the book away from the bed, then quickly picked it up before someone stepped on it. I stood against the wall as the technicians began trying to revive her. Somebody finally escorted me out.
Sixteen minutes later one of the nurses came to get me.
“We’ve managed to stabilize her, but it doesn’t look good. If only the rest of her body were as strong as her heart...” I thought I saw a tear in her eye. “If you would like, you can go back in and stay with her.”
I thanked the woman and she led me back into ICU-4. She looked the same as she had before, except for the ventilator tube running into her mouth. I pulled my chair back to the bedside and took her hand. With my other hand, I opened the book containing her deepest thoughts.
I am sorry that I have not written, Houma, but I was not able to recover my old book when I left my last residence and only just managed to get a new one. The old one fell behind the desk as I tried to gather my things. At least I have my Speak and Spell so I can talk. It is my fault. One of my ... customers saw me leaving my workplace before I was covered. He complained to my ... employer about my appearance and they got rid of me. At least they did not beat me first like the last ones. Once again I am living out of my old travel case. It is getting late. I will write more later.
It has been two days since I ate last. I am tired and hungry. It seems people are not so kind as they once were. They do not even move over as they speed by me. I have almost been hit many times. One man threw his trash at me as he passed. I swear I will never have anything to do with another man. I did pick up the bag hoping for some unfinished food but was disappointed to find only empty wrappers. I saw a sign for a restaurant a few miles ahead, maybe I can find some food there.
The people at the restaurant saw me at the dumpster and chased me away before I could find anything to eat. I hid around the corner waiting for them to go back inside so I could try again. I was so hungry my stomach was hurting so I took the chance. It was good that I did. One of the women came out and left a box by the dumpster. She called out saying she hoped I was still there and that the box was for me. Inside the box were 2 sandwiches, 2 apples, and a bottle of water. I ate the sandwiches but kept the apples for later. Who knows when I will find my next meal. I wish I could thank her for her kindness. I hope she doesn’t get in trouble.
I have not been feeling well for almost a week and have been sleeping under an overpass. The last three days I have been sick and throwing up. At least I have been able to find food at a nearby burger place. I think it is going to rain tonight. If it does, it is dark enough here I will take the chance to bathe and wash my clothes.
A very strange thing happened today. A man stopped and asked if I needed help. I am still not feeling well and am wearing my last good clothes so I nodded. He asked if there were someplace I needed or wanted to go, but I couldn’t think of anywhere I would be welcome, so I shook my head. Then he asked if I wanted to go home with him. I expected him to try and force me. I was feeling desperate and would have let him if he tried. I thought how nice it would be to sleep in a bed again, so I agreed, even if he wanted to use me as payment. Once I was in his car, he tried to talk to me. Since the toy was in my bag in the back, I couldn’t answer him, so I just put my hand on my neck and shook my head. He seemed to understand and just kept talking to me. I wish I could tell you what he said, but you know how bad my memory is. I don’t even remember what he said his name is. I think he lives in a security community, we had to go through a gate to get to his building. He must be the manager of the building too. He took me to the cafeteria and asked if I wanted anything to eat. I was starving, but I couldn’t let him see how ugly I am. He would probably throw me out right away. He told me if I wanted anything later to just come and get it. Then he took me upstairs and into his apartment. At least I thought it was his. He showed me around the place, ending in the bedroom. I knew he was going to charge me for helping me right then. When I turned to see what he wanted from me, he just smiled and handed me the key, saying this was MY apartment and to make myself comfortable. Then he just left! I was so shocked it took me a minute to realize he was just building my debt to him. Maybe it won’t be too bad. I suddenly remembered there was a kitchen, so I got the toy from my bag and went after him. I got his attention as he was entering another room. He chuckled when I used the toy to ask if I can use the kitchen. He said it was okay, but to not burn the place down. I wonder if he would have joked about that if he knew? A little later I took a pillowcase and went down to get some food from the cafeteria storage. I think he saw me, but he hasn’t said anything. He probably just added it to what I owe him.
I have been here a week already and have not left the apartment. I don’t know what is wrong, but I am still getting sick every day. Did he do something to the food? Maybe he is trying to force me to eat with him. Every day he stops by and asks me to join him to eat, but I know he wants something more. No, I was getting sick before he brought me here. How long will it be before he starts making demands of me for allowing me to stay? It will happen soon, I know. It always does. And then he will see how ugly I am and tell me to leave. I know I shouldn’t be so rude since he is helping me, but he is so persistent. Why can’t he just leave me alone?
I have noticed there do not seem to be any other tenants. I don’t hear anyone except him moving around and never see any cars coming or going. Does he keep them locked in their apartments? Maybe he keeps them chained to the walls to use as sex slaves. That would explain why he hasn’t come for me yet.
He stopped by again today. This time he said he had a gift for me. I told him to leave it outside the door and go away. I watched through the peephole until I saw him leave before opening the door. There on the hall carpet was a top of the line 3-in-1 laptop,. At first I wondered, “Why did he give me a such an expensive laptop?” But I know why. It is to put me further in his debt so he can collect more. What will he do when he finds out how ugly I am? Will he use me and throw me out like the others did or just throw me out? I must admit that I do like this apartment. The bedroom is larger than a lot of the places I have stayed before. I hope he lets me stay. It may be worth letting him take some payments from my body.
I think I figured out why he gave me the laptop. It can take the words I type and use a voice to actually say them. He must not like the voice of the toy. I picked a voice that reminds me of you, Houma.
He knocked again. He always knocks. At least he doesn’t just barge in. I used my new voice to answer him today and he said he likes it. That makes me uncomfortable yet happy. It is the first time I sound like I think I should. Maybe I will make him a meal to thank him. He usually leaves in the mornings by 7:00 and does not return until 7:00 at night. I don’t know where he goes. Does he have another job besides managing this building? Maybe he is torturing his prisoners. In any case he is probably not eating properly. Yes, I will fix him a nice hot meal and leave it for when he returns in the evening.
He thanked me for the meal and said it was delicious. Again he asked me to join him for meals. I am happy he likes my cooking but if he sees my ugliness he will surely throw me out. No, I will just cook for him more often. It is the least I can do for allowing me to stay.
I know why I had been getting sick every day. One of the last men I was with did not wear protection and now I am pregnant. What am I to do? Have an abortion? I cannot afford an abortion even if I wanted one. No, this life is in me for a reason and I will not end it for my convenience. I will have this child. Perhaps he will know what to do. No, I will not allow myself to become more indebted to him, even if he has not made any requests of me other than to join him for meals. What is it about eating together that interests him so much?
Oh Houma. The pain in my belly feels as if the child in me is tearing at me trying to get out. What should I do? It hurts so much but I must not let him find out. He will surely not want a hideous pregnant woman staying in his house no matter how much he likes my cooking.
The pain grows more intense with each passing day. Is the child a demon clawing at my belly to punish me for the way I have lived since you left this world, Houma? I wish you were here to hold me like you did when I was young and the pain filled my body.
Thank you for soothing my pain, Houma. I will try to live my life more as you would have me live.
I just got back from the hospital. It happened. He saw me in all my ugliness, yet he did not react as I expected. Two days ago, the child, no, the children growing inside me caused such pain that I cried out. He came into my room to find out why I was screaming. I should have realized that as the manager he could enter at anytime. I had not dressed for the day so he found me naked on the floor. I thought for sure he was going to run in fright. When he touched me, instead, I feared he wanted to have his way with me or worse, to throw me out, so I fought him until I could not bear the pain. When I awoke, I was in a hospital. A doctor was explaining to him that I am pregnant with twins and that their development was pulling on the scar tissue, causing the pain. The doctor said he should get a burn specialist to treat the scars or the babies could cause serious damage to all three of us. I wondered why the doctor was telling him until one of the nurses told me I was lucky to have such a caring boyfriend. I wanted to correct her, but my throat does not work and I did not have the toy or laptop. When I thought about it, I decided he isn’t so bad and probably would make a good boyfriend. That is just wishful thinking of course. No man could want me for his wife. Then again, he does like my cooking.
I have appointments today to see a burn specialist and an ob/gyn about the babies. It seems that Z, I finally remembered that is what he said to call him, has gotten me doctors to make sure the babies and I are healthy. I hope they can do something about the pain that is getting worse again. I wish I had met Z before you left, Houma. I think you would like him.
I tried to talk to Z using my own voice today. I know the doctors told you I would not be able to talk, but sometimes, if I try hard enough, I can almost make words people can understand. I think I want to try for Z. Oh, and I decided to start having meals with him today. He asks me things and when I respond, he listens! Of course, my talking is through the computer, but he still listens to what I ‘say’. When I asked him why he was helping me so much, he said ‘because it is the right thing to do’. When I asked about the other tenants, he gave me a funny look and then laughed at me. I didn’t like that and stopped talking to him.
I’ve done it now. He noticed I was trying to speak, and instead of laughing or making fun of me, he made more appointments. First with a throat doctor, then a speech therapist. I think he wants to hear my real voice! I am so happy he found me.
Z took me around the property today. I can’t believe how BIG it is! He told me this property is right around 1000 acres and the lake is about 100 acres. We had to use a golf cart and he says we didn’t even see a quarter of it! He has a RUNWAY for the main street and a huge lake with fish and a boat. Well, he has a boat but it wasn’t in the lake. And it is all his! Not only that, he has offers in for even more property around this one, including an empty town. He called it a ghost-town, but you know I don’t like spooky things. There was an explosion and fire in the old school there almost a year ago that killed a bunch of people. I hope their spirits don’t stay and haunt it. Just thinking about it gives me chills.
Did we ever go fishing, Houma? I don’t remember, but I feel like I did. Sometimes when he looks at me I feel like he really likes me.
We went for a walk today. No place special, we just walked. I even let him hold my hand. He asked me to take off my glove, but I’m not ready for that yet. Maybe next time.