I don’t remember waking up for the second time. I remember staring at the ceiling of my room and noticing there was a spider there, and then there wasn’t. I remember being awake and aware and hearing the ladies in white scuttle around outside my room, and hearing David snoring lightly from the other side of the paper curtain that divided us, and hearing a quiet monotonous voice from the morning news on the little television down the hall. However, I also remember seeing the wooden ceiling of my bedroom, hearing Mother and the Father and Nanny and Ashby and Anabel and sometimes even Arminel argue and move about in the rooms above me. I remember feeling the silicone tubes that were now a part of me pump Important Medicine™ into my bloodstream and seeing my favorite nurse Felicite sneak glances at me from her station, but I also remember Nanny adding another pillow beneath my head and Arminel quickly stopping to drop off a book for me, one for her class at university that she had just finished.
What I don’t remember, however, is whether I was in a hospital bed in some bloody saint’s hospital just outside of Paris or if I was in my childhood bed in London, next to my window that looked out onto a busy market street, the cobblestones level with my windowsill. I remember hearing someone crying – there’s always someone crying – and at first I thought they were doing it in French, but then I realized that they weren’t speaking, and that crying doesn’t have a language. I remember someone imploring them in a deeply accented English for them to calm down, but I also remember wishing Daisy was there, even though I hadn’t loved Daisy for a long time, even if she was too afraid to see me, more than just because I couldn’t move or think right without three different types of medicine. I remember Nanny not talking to me because of the way I looked at Daisy and the way Daisy looked at me. I remember hearing a foreign noise that was nanny but not Nanny, and that Daisy was sad all the time and that I was angry at the foreign noise because it was making Daisy sad.
I don’t remember where I was, or if I was even in one place at all. Maybe I was in that bloody hospital in France, and so close to the end of my string that my brain had reverted to my ill past in an attempt to steer from the icy cliffs I approached. Perhaps I was stationed in my old bedroom in the fabled Devereaux manor, in a tiny wooden bedroom with my beautiful, vulnerable Daisy at my side, finally realizing the multitude of my condition, and jumping forwards to, as quickly as possible, try to remove myself from the world that had caused my loved ones to feel such pain over me, t fret and pine and cry for me.
Thinking on it now, both seem equally terrible.
However, the reason that I was mentally in these two places at once is not at all illogical, surprising, or unreasonable to me. Within both places – my warm, haunted childhood bedroom and the too-sterile, white hospital room – I was in the same state of mind. I felt like something was altogether wrong, and more than normal. Normally, the IVs made my forearms itch slightly, the pills fogged my brain and my vision, and the supports below me were never placed quite right – though I knew they never would be. In both my childhood and my future, I knew that I wasn’t going to be okay – regardless of the time span, I knew somewhere (since the first time I felt something evil and permanent seeping and settling into me, I reckon) that I wasn’t going to end up okay, no matter what little victories the doctors’ tests showed. Through the expensive and mind-bending medicine they were pumping into me, the physical and psychological therapy with little-caring, monotonous idiots, and the long explanations on the results of my tests that I, more often than not, did not understand, though my mother and Ashby had learned to become fluent in, I knew that I would not win this battle. Whether I would live or not was off the table – everyone who knew of my condition knew that it would, in its indecisive and bothersome course of action, kill me. My mother and father and sisters and brother and terrible aunts and uncles from fvck knows where and Daisy once and even Nanny, before she too had retreated to that too-sterile white room, had already prayed their last and balled their last tear-stained facial tissue. I was going to die from this. There was, is, and never shall be a poetic way around it.
What I was worried about, as I lurked in these two places, was that the condition that slowly and deliberately ate away at me would not stop at what my living, mangled corpse could provide for it; that it would want, in turn, for why all these fvcknuts and Daisy and Ashby pined and whined and worried and cried over me. I worried that the condition would take my unconditional love for books and the way they pile so nicely, the way I can (most of the time) appreciate something from a distance, and realize that my interfering wasn’t necessarily in its best interest, the way I can call my family and friends fvcknuts affectionately, and in a way that no one questions because That’s just Albert. He’ll always make you laugh, even if he’s making you cry. From the moment I had accepted my condition I had strong plans to go down with it kicking and screaming in a resilient, heroic manner, so that people might say about me That Albert Devereaux. He was something, wasn’t he? But if I fizzled out like a candle simply and pathetically at the end of its wick, I wouldn’t be anything. I would be a statistic. I would be a case study. Nineteen-year-old university students would look at me objectively, as they would a frog splayed open with its guts neatly labelled with pins.
And no one would say anything. They would turn all pictures of me face down and try to think of something else.
Author’s Note: This is the final post on The Significance Of Unimportance. Hopefully, this column has helped you as much as it has helped me. I’m Ella Luna. Good night.
Writing by Ella Luna, illustrations by Ella Luna and William Soto