6 Stirring Feelings
Time inside the facility can be slow, but it can also be fast.
It's fast at times of great happiness.
After a year of interaction and bonding with all the patients inside the facility.
My friends and Benedict became close enough to have a meeting during our "safe days" every Friday night.
An assembly of people with different circumstances yet shares the same pain.
We talked and joked.
We played cards.
Since I can't move my arms, Benedict and I became a pair most of the time.
Me, the brain. Him, my arms.
When the challenge was my forte, painting. I stubbornly decided I will participate myself, and practiced the brush using my mouth, just like those big elephants I saw in the television.
I finished my work with satisfaction, "So, how is it?" I eagerly asked Benedict.
He looked at my face, his mouth pumping as if forcing himself not to smile. "A good abstract," he said while still looking at my face.
My friends burst out laughing when they saw my face.
Glancing at the public mirror near the hall. I saw my face with patches of paint in different colors. As if fireworks are exploding on it. An eye is hidden, making my face so comical with its one-eyed doe mess.
Since my older sisters are not here, I asked, begged and pleaded for Benedict to clean my face.
"Ouch! Gentler. Do you think my face is a wood for you to scrub like that?"
"No. Wood is better than your face. So ugly." His mouth scrunched up in concentration.
"What?! Just because you luckily got a handsome DNA, you look down on less than stellar people, huh?" I was really angry.
I was confident in my looks. With my family often commenting on how beautiful I am. Just like their teachings, I also took it to heart.
He was the first person to say I was ugly.
"Stop moving. Dummy, the paint is spreading." In the end, the paint did spread, after I head-butted his chest. His pristine white shirt ruined.
That's right, we were childish, happy and wild.
I was 18 years old.
And I felt more alive than ever.
But time inside the facility slowed to a crawl as well.
It was late afternoon, the temperature had lowered these past few months so I was wearing thick clothes as I went up the stairs. Energized after my visit to the Meadow Garden. When all of a sudden, I was unbalanced and I fell down the stairs.
I was paralyzed for quite a while with the pain. I don't know if I broke anything. I tried getting up but my leg won't work and I ended up sprawled haplessly.
It was during that time that I felt time had slowed to a crawl. Every second waiting for people, any person to find me is so excruciatingly long.
I felt so alone. As if in this dark corner I would waste away.
My lids were jumping. Panicking. My throat spasmed, readying itself to scream for help. When a shadow loomed over, his face so worried as he asked my welfare.
"Is anything broken?" my voice hoarse as I asked him.
"None that I can see. But we'll need a full body scan. Here, can you stand?" Carrying me up, enough for me to stand.
"No, my left leg is not working properly." I chewed my lip as I tried hard to sense. I can sense a little bit of it, but it's starting.
The halted clock had begun ticking once again.
The reprieve of two years as fleeting as the clouds I saw outside the window that day when Benedict carried me to my room.
"Are you gonna be okay?" He worriedly asked me.
It was the first time I saw his stricken face. As if something important was snatched away from a child. That wronged expression. It was so inappropriate with his character that I burst out laughing.
I moved my head in his direction. "Pat my head."
Odd put at my request, he questioned my head, "Are you a dog?"
"I want to be indulged and feel loved when I'm in pain. My dad often caressed my hair when I was a child. While my mom would pat my leg when it was her turn." I smiled to myself. "Truly like a dog."
He was extremely quiet, as he caressed my hair, waiting for the doctors to examine me.
Accompanied by the silence, was my accelerating heart.
As if it wanted to escape. Every stroke signals a beat.
This feeling. It was foreign yet natural at the same time. Will he be able to feel it too in the future?
I hope he does. Was my last thoughts as pain consumed me. My brain shutting down in response.
Tick. Tock. Tick.Tock.
The clicking of the clock woke me up.
"You woke up. Your parents visited you. And the doctors tested you while you were unconscious. They'll probably arrive soon." Benedict handed me a cup of water with a straw.
"Thank you," I said to him after looking at my Meadow. The meadow that was enveloped by darkness and uncertainty.
Just like my heart when I look at Benedict.
When I was a child, I dreamt of being an explorer.
Fated to live a life enclosed by four walls. Escaping outside my room was to satisfy my yearning.
"Little by little. Dessie," I told my younger self.
When I planned my first escapade. "The hallway first, next to the corridor, then the stairs, then the hall. Then…" There were so many scribbled plans. Maps of the areas that I've seen outside memorized for my impending exploration of my only biggest goal, "the Meadow."
And just like the Meadow. I felt something amazing when I'm with Benedict.
As an avid explorer, not only outside do we need to find and achieve goals but also in our hearts.
Introspection. My heart should signify my next goal.
But I was terrified.
It felt like if I continue, I would collapse.
We were watching a love story movie featuring a woman who loved a man, sacrificing everything for him, yet not getting any in return, while another man loves her wholeheartedly yet she never seems to accept with which was freely given, but rather insist on which was impossible.
My Dad once told me, "Sweetheart, love makes people irrational, it does not make sense, sometimes it just comes. If you are blessed, they'll be with you, accompanying you. But not all are blessed, some take a piece of your heart and take it with them your whole life."
"They take a piece of your heart? Then it must have hurt a lot, Dad."
"Yes. Some recover, with time and another person filling that missing hole, while others never really recover. Forever missing that other piece of heart."
I knew then. More than anyone.
That he would take my heart forever.