Friday, August 19, 2011

Chapter 32: Panic

Nora’s mind flashed through a series of images. She saw her arms flailing above her, bubbles floating to the surface. She saw her legs below her, a chain tied around her left ankle… Her hands clawed at the chain, trying to loosen it, trying to save herself from certain death.

The images flashed faster and faster, as if playing on a loop inside her brain, but each time the surrounding water got darker and darker. Finally, they were all black. Nora breathed harder and faster, turning her head this way and that. Suddenly, her eyes opened. She looked around frantically, panting hard. She felt cold sweat on her forehead. The sight that she saw didn’t help ease her fears.

She looked around and saw that she was laying inside a long glass cylinder. For a brief moment, she felt like an animal, trapped in a cage--or worse… She felt like a fish stuck in an aquarium. She once again saw the water rising up around her, felt her chest tightening. She reached up and placed a hand on the glass, trying to determine if it was really there or if it was a figment of her panicked imagination. Her breathing once again came in faster and faster puffs.

Just then, Nora heard someone faintly calling her name. She looked around, trying to see who was calling to her. She heard a loud banging sound and flinched. She turned her head and saw Tristan, sitting on a chair just outside the cylinder. Nora stared at him with wide, frightened eyes. He was looking at her with the same worried expression on his face. Nora put her hand up on the glass and he placed his over hers.

“Are you okay?” Tristan asked. Nora could only faintly hear his voice. It sounded as if he was a mile away. Nora nodded but couldn’t bring herself to speak. She was afraid of how she would sound inside this chamber.

“Do you remember what happened?” Tristan continued. Nora thought for a moment then nodded. She was at the hospital because of the diving incident… Her memory was a bit blurry because she had been fighting the desire to faint, but she vaguely remembered why she was in the cylinder.

Nora sighed deeply and looked away from Tristan. She began breathing normally again and her fear slowly slipped away. She placed her hands in her lap and sat there for a few moments, hunched over in the chamber. She tried straightening her back but realized that she was too tall for that. She sighed again then decided to lay down. Unfortunately, whatever she was laying on was not very comfortable, and all she could do to take her mind off of her uncomfortableness was count the ceiling tiles. Tristan talked for a while, but Nora could only hear bits and pieces of what he was saying. After a while, he looked away sadly and just sat there beside her.

Finally, the doctor came into the room. He immediately walked over to the chamber and stared down at Nora. He pushed some buttons on the outside of the chamber while Tristan and Nora watched him intently. Just then, the end of the cylinder by Nora’s head opened with a sound that was like a seal being removed. The doctor helped Nora out of the chamber, but he neglected to help steady her once she was on her feet. Nora held onto the outside of the chamber while blood rushed up to her head.

“Well, she seems to be doing all right,” the doctor began as he walked over to Tristan. The doctor was looking down at a clipboard as he spoke. “We’ll keep her in a room for a few hours, possibly overnight, to make sure that she’s fine. Some symptoms of decompression sickness can be late in setting in, and we just want to be certain that she’s completely healthy again, so her time of departure is…up in the air.” the doctor finished with a shrug. Tristan stood up and looked between the doctor and Nora.

“So…” Tristan began, not really knowing what to say.

“Can I change back into my clothes?” Nora asked, still holding onto the chamber for support. The doctor sighed then turned to her. He thought for a moment, a frown on his face.

“We usually ask patients to stay in their hospital gowns, but I don’t expect you to be needing any more treatment, so I suppose if you would feel more comfortable in your own clothes that would be fine.” the doctor said, still frowning. Nora smiled a little.

“Great. Now, if you’ll both just skedaddle, I’ll change and we can talk more after that. Okay? Okay.” Nora said, motioning for both of the men to leave. Tristan immediately complied but the doctor paused, evidently puzzled by Nora’s behavior.

“It’ll be better if you just do what she says.” Tristan whispered loudly from outside the room. Nora nodded.

“He speaks the truth.” she said simply. The doctor still looked confused as Tristan grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the room. Tristan swung the door shut then looked at the doctor.

“So… How’s your day going?” Tristan asked awkwardly. The doctor did not respond. He just continued to look confused.

“I’ve never had a patient that was so modest…” the doctor said softly. Tristan gave him a puzzled look.

“What?” he asked, baffled.

“When she changed into the hospital gown, she made me look away. Now that she’s changing out of it, I have to leave the room. I can understand making you leave the room, but I’m the doctor…” he continued, more to himself than to Tristan. Tristan scoffed.

“Just because you’re a doctor doesn’t make you special.” he blurted out, crossing his arms over his chest. The doctor glanced up at him, apparently wondering if Tristan was crazy. Tristan glanced down at the man awkwardly.

“Let’s forget this conversation ever happened.” the doctor said softly.

“Deal.” Tristan replied quickly. The two quickly shook hands then turned away from each other, acting as if nothing had happened between the two of them. Their act was not completely convincing.

No comments:

Post a Comment