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We Meet Again (pt. 5)

Chapter 5: Reborn

By J. L. GreenPublished about a month ago 10 min read
We Meet Again (pt. 5)
Photo by Ravi Kumar on Unsplash

For being hit by a car and slamming into the wall, I am surprised by how much of nothing I feel. Like that moment just before you wake up when you're heavy but not. But there is warmth.

A soothing, calming warmth.

"Aoibh."

My eyes flicker open at the familiar voice, the familiar name. My name. The original one.

Mother is seated on a log beside a roaring fire and the heavy weight of nostalgia hits me harder than Derek did. This is all familiar, from my first life. I haven't been able to remember details like this for years.

The dirt floor of our home, a fire in the hearth with a dark cauldron of stew. Mother's corkscrew red curls messily braided down her back, her ashy brown eyes. Her nose was thin and sharp, her face full, her smile the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

This...this must be Heaven. I don't remember ever being in Heaven before. Or anywhere else.

"Not quite Heaven, Aoibh," Mother says (in what I believe would be considered ancient Celtic).

The language is nearly forgotten, but it rolls of my tongue as easily as it did when I was a wee lass in my first life, curled up by Mother's skirt. It's where I am now. Tears fill my eyes but there is no familiar sting that comes with it.

"Hello Mother."

"It's been a long time, my love. I was hoping I'd see you again."

I nuzzle my head against her knee while she strokes my hair, as red and curly as hers.

"Why...Why am I here? Have I ever been here before?"

"No, you haven't. The soul bond is fickle but iron-tight."

I'm not surprised she knows about the soul bond. It was her that spoke of it with such loving reverence all those centuries ago. She can't have known what it would mean for me; how many of my lives it's haunted.

There is silence aside from the soft crackling of the fire. The stew smells wonderful. Mother's wool skirt rubs my cheek, making it itch. Her fingers comb through my hair while she hums.

This must be Heaven. What else can it be?

"My love, I am here to give you a choice."

I look up to her and meet her eyes; they're the same shade and shape as mine are in this life, or were at least.

"What kind of choice?" I ask.

There is kindness in her smile, but also a touch of sadness.

"You can come with me and be at peace for eternity." Her hand stills. "Or you can return to your life."

That's not much of a choice is it? If I go back to my life (again, where I've been hit by a car and ran into a wall), I'll inevitably run into Derek again. Whether it's in this life or my next.

Eternal peace sounds wonderful.

Mother, who has been aware of my thoughts and feelings since before I woke up here, looks me straight in the eyes. Her features have dimmed as the firelight dies slowly.

"My love, I would not offer this as a choice if your life wasn't worth returning to."

The fire is steadily waning, the warmth receding.

"What do you mean?"

It's getting cold now.

"Make your choice, Aoibh, or you'll lose the chance."

I don't know what I want. I don't know what she means. She's being so cryptic. What choice should I make?

~~~~

What is this feeling? My throat. It hurts. It shouldn't hurt.

Before my hand can lift even an inch to rub at my neck, it stops. Tugs. Stuck in place. I can't move either of my arms freely.

The darkness calls. Blissful nothingness.

~~~~

"-Erly...I'm just going to lift your arm to wash you, okay?"

Is that Mother's voice? No. The language isn’t righ- God that hurts! Is this soft voice trying to rip my arm off?

"I know, honey, I'm sorry. We're almost done." How heavy my eyes are while my mind is not. The pain in my arm dies as it's put back down. "Okay hon, now we'll do the other one."

This doesn't hurt as much. I don't have to clench my eyes shut. I try to open them instead. Try to see if I can see.

There are speckles on the ceiling. A fun pattern of thousands of dots decorating the tile. The lights are dim.

"There she is," says that same soothing voice. A beautiful older woman smiles kindly down at me. She and another woman, a younger one, are on either side of me, one holding my arm, the other holding a rag. "Hi Everly. My name is Wanda, I'm your nurse. This is Sophie, she's helping me bathe you."

I blink slowly. The darkness is beckoning again, but I don't want to go back. That's why I'm here isn't it? I chose not to go to eternal peace? What kind of idiot am I?

"-Been under sedation for a few weeks. Once you wake up more I'll bring the doctor in to talk to you, okay baby?"

Oh, that's why the darkness is so tempting. Maybe, I'll just-

My leg moves and I want to go flying off the bed in pain. It's a throbbing, burning, stinging, hateful pain, starting at my toes up passed my crotch.

"I know it, baby, I know it. We gotta clean your catheter then we'll be done."

Dear Jesus God in Heaven, they're killing me! Why, Mother? Why let me come back to this? Was this just another lie?

"Can she have a bolus?" That is not Wanda speaking.

"She can, let me get that going real quick." That is Wanda.

There's beeping and then a rush of warmth. If the darkness was enticing before, it is absolutely not taking no for an answer now.

Just before I succumb, a gentle voice whispers, "But you're alive, Aoibh."

~~~~

It takes a week for me to be weaned fully out of sedation. A week of me being awake enough to listen and asleep enough to be utterly confused. It's a strange little hellscape, seeing what the words in the real world look like in your head.

But it's done now! I'm off sedation and successfully off the ventilator.

Everything still hurts. A lot.

(But, I’m alive.)

Dr. Brockmier has been my doctor for the last week and is about to switch out with a different Intensive Care Unit (ICU) doctor, but he made sure to speak to me first.

Apparently the impact from the car broke my left femur (the big, thick upper leg bone) in three places. For reference, the femur is reportedly the hardest bone to break and the most painful. I've had one surgery already to fix them back in place with rods, a second surgery with a hip replacement because it destroyed the "ball bearing" part of my left hip, and ridiculous casts on both of my bottom legs.

Not to mention the damage slamming into the wall did. That's why my arm hurt so bad. It got badly bruised and swollen from taking the brunt of the impact, but has slowly healed without much intervention.

Dr. Brockmier made it abundantly clear that the fact that I was awake and coherent was a miracle in itself. He's also said it won't be an easy recovery, or a quick one, but he believes if I work hard that I can get back to normal. Or close enough to it.

Once he leaves the room, there is a knock.

"Everly, you have visitors."

For a split, horrifying second I am terrified that it'll be Derek coming through the door. I can't run, not with the shape I'm in now.

Several bright silver balloons with a "get well" and "feel better soon" across the face come in before Natalie does. She takes one look at me and tears come pouring from her eyes.

Jerry is behind her, carting the largest bouquet of flowers I've ever seen, and he too is crying.

"Oh Everly," he sighs.

I wonder if this is their first time seeing me, but my throat is still in killer pain from the ventilator, so I don't talk much. Instead I smile as widely as I can (I know I'm missing at least three teeth that used to live safely inside my mouth), and wave softly.

"Thank God you're alive!" Natalie gasps.

I can see it in the way she bounces on the balls of her feet, how her fingers twitch; she's itching to give me a hug. I'm grateful that she resists the urge.

"What happened?" I ask. Jeeze, that’s a heck of a rasp.

They exchange looks before Natalie sits in the closest chair, placing her hand gently atop mine. Mine is bruised and bloodied from various blood draws and IV's that didn't keep.

But I'm alive.

"Derek," Natalie begins. She's not good at being tender, hasn't been for as long as I've known her. She looks up to Jerry.

He takes over flawlessly. "Derek hit you with his car. Police think he was trying to kill you."

"He was."

I think the nonchalance of how I said it throws them off guard.

"Oh. Well, he tried. Obviously, and thankfully, he failed."

"Yes, he did. He'll probably try again."

That prospect terrifies me more than anything else.

They share another look and I'm starting to get irked by these private, silent conversations they seem to be having.

Natalie is the one who takes the reigns for this.

"He's dead, Ev."

.

.

.

"...What?"

That's not possible? He's never died before me. How is that possible?

"He was drunk, he wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and he crashed through the windshield when he hit the building. He was dead before paramedics got there." Seeing the stunned look on my face, Natalie gives a light squeeze to my hand. "He's dead, Everly. He won't be bothering you again."

~~~~

Four months. It's been Four months since I woke up in the hospital after the accident; confused, in pain, and weak. But I'm alive.

I spent a full month in the hospital, starting in the ICU, to a step-down unit, to a regular Medical/Surgical unit, and, finally, a physical rehab.

The physical rehab has been the best and worst place. My pain has been up at black-out levels and down to just a dull buzz, but I'm trying not to take a lot of narcotics. The better I get at moving, the easier it gets though. And, of course, I'm still alive.

Also, the people I've met have been amazing. From the health aides, to nurses, to kitchen staff. Super friendly and kind. I was expecting something much worse, you know, but I have been happily surprised.

The physical therapists in particular are solid and helpful; being there all the time also means they learn me and my habits.

I'll miss them when I go. Which is happening today!

There's one therapist in particular, Kade, that gives me a...weird feeling when I'm around him. It didn't start off that way, but it's been acting up more and more lately. When he's nearby or he jokes with me, my face gets warm and my stomach gets filled with bees, just buzzing around.

Natalie and Jericho say that's because I have a crush on him, but that can't be it. Seven-hundred years worth of lives and I have never once felt romantic love for anyone. Why would that change now?

Unless...it's broken? The soul bond.

I'd never seen Mother before then. She gave me a choice. Because my life would be worth living. Maybe this is what she meant. Could this be what love is? Just the first blossoms of it?

Natalie and Jericho help pack all of my belongings in the car and take them to her apartment; she's got a condo with a bedroom and bathroom downstairs on the ground floor that she has kindly offered to let me live in while I'm still recovering.

I'm waiting in a wheelchair for them to return; it's been about an hour now. They said they were on their way back.

Kade shows up with his usual smile, and the bees go crazy.

"You heading home today?" he asks.

I nod and internally shush the bees. "Today is the day."

"Well...I'm going to miss you Ev."

There is a silence. Not quite awkward, but not...not. I know this may well be the last time I see him, and I'm sadder about that than I planned to be. (What was it Jer said? Be honest and tell him how I feel? That's stupid.)

"Hey Kade. Can I say something real fast?"

"Of course."

I pause. How to go about this? (I said it was stupid, I didn't say I wouldn't try it.)

"So, this is kind of a first for me but...I like you." He stills, his eyes going wide. "You've been so nice and helpful and funny. And this isn't just because you've been helping me recover. This isn't a 'damsel falling for the hero' situation." (Natalie had brought that up as a concern, but that's not where the feeling came from. I got the bees even when he wasn't my therapist.)

I hold out a small piece of paper with some slightly smudged numbers written on it. I've been holding onto it for roughly two weeks working up the courage.

"This is my number." I see Jericho's car pulling into the lot and close my eyes against memories of bright headlights and smashing glass. My non-physical therapist has been helping me through some PTSD as well.

"Oh Everly," Kade sighs. My chest clenches. I recognize this feeling of sadness, or defeat, but never because of romance. He continues with a gentle, "I can't date my patients."

That makes sense, I guess. Probably safer for everyone to keep that professional line solid.

"I see."

Jericho is out of the car, crossing around to open the back door for me. When I look back at Kade, he is smiling brightly.

"I guess I'll have to wait until after I finish your last bits of paperwork before I call you."

My body aches and throbs as I climb into the car. I've discovered a new fear of parking lots and I've learned what a PTSD attack is the hard way.

But I met Kade. I learned that I am not only strong, but resilient and resourceful as well. And most of all, perhaps the most important thing of all of this...

I am alive.

Series

About the Creator

J. L. Green

I've been writing for fun since I was a preteen and haven’t stopped since. I tend to favor the darker/angsty/thriller type of themes. Here’s to hoping readers enjoy my work, and those that don't find something they do.

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jason Benskinabout a month ago

    The way you captured the protagonist's complex emotions and the surreal experience of being hit by a car was incredibly vivid and engaging. The narrative flowed seamlessly, keeping me hooked from start to finish. Your ability to convey the delicate balance between reality and the character's internal state is impressive and adds depth to the story. I'm curious about the inspiration behind this series and how you developed the characters and their intricate relationships. The blend of suspense and emotional intensity makes for a compelling read. I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes next and how the characters evolve. Keep up the fantastic work!

J. L. GreenWritten by J. L. Green

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