He walked in and sat down at his desk, glancing up at her and then back down.
“Well that doesn’t look good,” he said nonchalantly.
She didn’t bother responding.
“How long has it been bleeding like that?” he asked, still not looking up.
“On and off for 11 months and nine days.”
“And it was broken, correct?”
“Well, that just makes things…”
He covered up the instruments that were spread out on the tray beside him, pushing it back behind his desk.
“Makes things what? I mean, you can fix it, right?”
He shook his head.
“I’m afraid not. That’s like asking me to fix a shattered mirror. Your only option is to try and let it heal the way it is, and then wait and see. It will most likely function again, on some level, but just not like it did. The good news, however, is that the pain will eventually go away, and you probably won’t feel anything at all.”
“What do you mean, ‘Won’t feel anything at all?'”
“Most times in these cases, it just goes numb when the bleeding finally stops. But that’s a good thing, right? I mean if it feels as bad as it looks…”
She slid off the table and made her way to the door, furious at herself for letting this happen.
“I can give you something to take to numb the pain more quickly.”
She paused, considering it.
“No. I guess if this is the last thing I’m going to feel, I should ‘enjoy’ it while it lasts. I mean, it can’t last that much longer, can it?
“It’s hard to say. But, to be honest with you, yours is in pretty bad shape, so it could take awhile. The good thing though is that no one will know but you. All you have to do is keep a smile on your face and everyone will think you are completely normal.”
“You want a bit of unsolicited advice?” he continued, not waiting for her reply. “Perhaps next time you should try using your head to guide you. Reason, I find, greatly diminishes your risk of falling.”
She closed the door behind her just in time to hear his final words echo down the hall.
“Remember to smile,” he said matter-of-factly. “People might think your heart is shattered.”
She headed toward the exit, quickening her pace as his words chased after her.
You want me to smile? she thought. Why exactly? So whoever the recipient is doesn’t have to feel anything uncomfortable, like sadness or guilt or, God forbid, empathy. So they can “reason” that I am going to be fine, that we never are handed more than we can handle and everything works out in the end?
“Reason greatly diminishes your risk of falling…”
She stopped and turned around, forcing his words to retreat. My God, what someone with no sensation in their legs wouldn’t do to be able to fall down one more time, knowing they could get back up and walk again. Even if it hurt like hell and there was a risk of falling yet again, of shattering the very bones they needed to stand up one last time, wouldn’t they risk it?
She did want the pain to stop, there was no question of that. But she was starting to feel exactly what he had predicted, and it was much worse than pain. She was starting to feel nothing at all.
Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the feeling in her legs and then slowly worked her way up, thinking about the moment she felt her heart break, and then the moment she felt it shatter. The pain resurfaced instantly, seeping back in and filling in the cracks, intensifying to a degree that felt unbearable. But this time, she didn’t try to stop it. She let it linger instead until it filled her up completely and she could feel nothing else.
And although not quite ready to reveal itself, she felt what resembled a smile start to emerge, realizing if she could still feel pain that intensely, she could still feel love as deeply.
That was reason enough to piece back together the very thing she needed to love again, deeply and completely, until she could feel nothing else.
Author: Brooke Breazeale
Image: Flickr/Jorge Elias
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell