Posted in Stories

Who Turned The Lights Out?

A strange thing happened to me yesterday. I started by writing this 140 character story:

They are discussing me. My wife and the doctor. “OK,” she wept, “Do it.” “No!’ I shout, “Don’t turn off the life support.” No one heard me.

……. and then almost immediately I felt compelled to write this story.

Who Turned The Lights Out

I’ve been in here nearly two months now. I don’t remember much about the accident, just a hazy image of that lorry swerving across the motorway and coming straight at me. After that everything is blank. The next thing I remember is waking up here in hospital.

Well I say ‘waking up’ but that’s not strictly accurate. I’m awake in as much as I can hear people talking and feel their hands when they touch me but nobody knows that. Apparently my eyes are still closed and I haven’t said anything or moved a muscle, not even a slight twitch, since they wheeled me out of the operating theatre.

At first, all sorts of people used to talk to me as if I could hear them and, of course, I could. So the doctors would tell me what treatment I was getting, the nurses used to tell me about the weather and where they were going on their night out. My family and friends would sit by the bed bringing me up to date with all the latest gossip. I soaked it all up but didn’t reply at all. I wanted to but I just couldn’t.

I smiled at the antics of the young nurses and grinned widely when friends told me of the latest crazy idea the boss at work had instigated. But these smiles and grins were just in my head, nobody out there could see them. Every time anybody at my bedside talked to me I would talk back. But the conversations were always one-sided nobody ever heard my replies.

Things have taken a slight turn for the worse over the past few days. Not with me, I hasten to add, apparently my condition has not changed at all. I heard one of the doctors telling my wife that all my organs were undamaged. That cheered me up until he went on to say that there were people waiting for them and a decision needed to be made soon. What did he mean, ‘there were people waiting for them’ – what was I supposed to do if they were given to someone else.

Then I heard my wife telling the doctor that I always carried a donor card and had always been keen on the idea of donating organs. Well yes I had but at the moment I felt that I wanted to hang on to them. I wasn’t sure that I had finished with them yet. It was strange hearing her talk like that, I’d forgotten I even had a donor card. It’s one of those things that you agree to, keep the card in your wallet and then forget all about it. You don’t ever imagine you will one day be listening to other people talking about giving them away.

It appears that I’m on one of those life support machines. Apparently all this breathing and general living that I’m doing, well I’m not, well not on my own I’m not. Some machine is doing it for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. As far as I can work, out this machine has been doing a good job over the last two months and I’m not likely to start criticising now. The thing is that there is some talk about turning the machine off. Understandable I suppose, I mean there can’t be many of these machines around and there’s probably some other poor soul whose turn it now is.

I’ve been trying hard today to attract someone’s attention to let them know that I’m still here. I tried smiling, opening my eyes, wriggling my toes, twitching my fingers. In my head it all worked perfectly but out there nobody seems to have noticed.

It seems to be unusually quiet tonight. My wife is sat by the bed but she doesn’t seem herself. She’s holding my hand and talking to me but it’s difficult to hear what she’s saying through her tears. I’m aware that there are other people in the room. No one is speaking but every now and then, I hear a sob or the shuffling of feet.

Then my wife stands up, leans over the bed and kisses me. She’s wearing that perfume that I bought her last Christmas, the expensive stuff. Her tears fall on to my face and she whispers goodbye in my ear. A doctor says something to her and then I hear the distinct sound of an electric plug being taken out of the wall socket.

“No!” I scream, “Don’t switch it off, I’m not ready yet.” But no one hears me.

MikeJackson©2011


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Author:

Now that I'm retired I have more time to devote to writing my blog and creating short stories.

8 thoughts on “Who Turned The Lights Out?

  1. Hec-tic. That was a fantastic premise as well as story. I vaguely remember someone writing a book on a similar theme about a nurse who could hear the voice of a soldier who had lost his arms, eyes, legs, and voice in a 2nd World War incident. He plead for help, but her superiors thought she was mad and was hearing things.
    Anyway, none of that is to take away from the marvelous job you have done here. I was engaged from the beginning to the very last word, and then still sat quietly for a couple of minutes to absorb the piece. Fantastic.

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    1. Many thanks for your kind words.
      It was strange how this story came about – I was all set to write a few 140 character stories to post on the blog – then as soon as I finished the one above the story just seemed to flow from it. I literally went straight from the 140 story to the longer version, without even really thinking about it.
      As soon as I had finished it I was pleased with it & wanted to share it.

      Like

  2. Reading that absorbing story gave me shivers Mike… as in what if this has happened / is happening? For the want of a small movement , a twitch of an eyelid, a little finger or a toe…
    I read a blog recently The Light and Beyond and it reminded me of a programme I’d watched about a woman who’d been in a coma, and on regaining consciousness was able to tell her relatives and the doctors word for word their conversations, and also that she’d floated above her own body, able to say what she’d seen far away from her bedside… Amazing stuff ….
    I’m still shivering, as your story felt so ‘real’…. xPenx

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    1. Thanks Pen.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your comments.
      Do you find it strange how sometimes a story seems to just flow from the pen, almost as if you have no control over it.
      I know that sounds a bit strange, but that’s how it felt.

      Like

  3. Taking nothing away from your great story Mike, I went through a very similar circumstance when my father was on a life support machine several years ago. I know they had pronounced him clinically dead but……..

    Anyway, I enjoyed your story even though it brought back a sad memory for me.

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    1. Thanks for you comments Trevor.
      I’m glad that you enjoyed the story, despite the sad memories that it evoked.
      Like you I have memories of my dad being on a life support machine. I spent days just watching for that slight smile or minute twitch – but it never came.

      Like

  4. this one leaves my eyes moist and my chest burning … and so early in the morning

    the 140 short version didn’t let my emotions develop to that extent … so although I feast on the 140s, it is always with a bit of a guilty “pleasure”- (I have realised that the instant gratification of the short short is satisfying – but nice to balance it with the “extended” version )

    thanks for the matching a short short with a corresponding short

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    1. Thanks Renee.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the story.
      I’m thinking of going back to some of my previous 140 character stories & see if there is scope to develop them.

      Like

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