You can learn a lot when people think you aren’t listening…
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had insomnia. I’ve always been a night owl and a morning person, surviving on five, maybe six, hours of sleep cobbled together in restless bouts. In hindsight, I realize all my life I sort of resented having to sleep. I suppose I was afraid on some subconscious level I’d miss something important or exciting or unrepeatable. Which makes my current predicament all the more ironic.
I am in a deep vegetative state…better known as a coma.
Other people refer to my situation as “sad,” “heartbreaking”...even “tragic.” I find all the attention rather strange considering before I landed in Bed 3 in the long-term care ward of Brady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, I was the girl no one paid much attention to. I was the middle child—middling pretty, middling smart, a middling achiever with a middling personality in a middling job at a middling company. My name is Marigold Kemp, but these days I’m more commonly referred to as Coma Girl. Apparently, I have a bit of a following. I’ve trended on social media. I have my own hashtag.
Since it appears I’m going to be here for a while, I thought I might as well start telling my story; there have been a few twists and turns as to how I got here, and doubtless more to come. The list of pluses of being in a coma is pretty darn short, but if I had to name the best thing, it’s that you can learn a lot when people think you aren’t listening. I am the ultimate eavesdropper, and friend, if I ever wake up, I’m going to write a tell-all.
Meanwhile, I’ll tell you.
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September 24, Saturday
“SO CATCH ME UP,” Alex said. “Marigold is pregnant?”
“I’m afraid so,” my mom said, somehow managing to marinate all three words with disapproval, condemnation, and dismay.
“She doesn’t look pregnant from here.”
“Really? Her cheeks don’t look puffy?”
“No, she looks great. Who’s the lucky guy?”
“Nobody seems to know, except Marigold, and she isn’t talking. I don’t suppose she mentioned a boyfriend to you?”
“No. She mentioned a guy in the Peace Corps a couple of times, but she said they were just friends.”
“Do you remember his name?” Mom asked.
“No, but I’ll look back through the letters I got from her and see if she mentioned a name.”
Ack—I’d written a lot of letters to Alex—had I mentioned Duncan?
“How is Sis doing?”
My mom heaved a sigh. “At the beginning of the month, the doctors were optimistic she was improving with the experimental drug, but as the baby grows, she seems to be losing ground.”
“That doesn’t sound good. Should I ask for time off to come home?”
“We’d love to see you, of course, but don’t come for Marigold’s sake, Alex. She probably won’t even know you’re here.”
“I’ll know I’m there,” he said. “I’ll see what I can do. Meanwhile, what’s going on with the case?”
My parents hesitated.
“No good news there either,” my dad finally said.
This is the first I’m hearing of it.
“The ADA called this morning.” My mom’s voice was tight. “Keith Young’s blood alcohol content test came back measuring less than before.”
“It dropped from .01 to .00,” my dad bit out.
“So he wasn’t drunk?”
“So it would seem,” my dad said. “But there’s more. About an hour ago, a news blog reported they’d received an anonymous tip that the lab was paid off to return a lower result.”
“Do you think it’s true?”
“The ADA said they were looking into it, but unless they can track down the tipster, they don’t have much to go on.”
“Unbelievable. And he’s starting in Monday night’s game against the Saints. It’s going to be beamed in for the entire base.” It sounded as if Alex slammed his fist down. “This isn’t over.”
“Don’t let it distract you from your duties,” my mom said. “We’ll keep you posted.”
“Okay, bye. Bye, Marigold!”
They disconnected the Skype call and I felt my parents’ anguish like a pungency in the air—sweats, tears, adrenaline. They sat completely still, as if they were too burdened to stand up. A minute… three minutes… five. Finally one of them moved, and the other followed.
And they left the room without saying a word. ~