The damp white walls smelt of various pungent antibiotics. While I kept my eyes stuck to the ground, there was just the white noise in my ears. My inner self walked at a distance of two feet, in extreme horror. The white sheets of the hospital bed were still holding that specific fold around Meghan at the foot of the bed.
It seemed she hadn’t moved ever since the nurses had placed her in there and made the bed around her. Most of Meghan’s head was wrapped in bandages and gauze. Her thin arms were covered with scratches and one was in a sling. Her left eye was ruptured. Her left side jaw looked like a bruised island and her lips like a sunken ship. She didn’t have the being left in her. I could see it. I could see it through the little round viewing glass on the door.
Two days earlier, I met Meghan in a restaurant after a long time. We were in the same course pursuing Psychology. We became friends when we attended the poetry club after college. A young, talented cheerful woman; with a curious kind of mystery beneath her ribcage. That evening she was dressed in an emerald green striped shirt and floral printed skirt that she told me was one of the gifts on her last birthday. It was about two months ago. She looked unusually pretty with a falling braid on her left shoulder and her nose dipped in a poetry book; sitting cross legged in a corner of the restaurant. When I reached near her, she didn’t look up instead her eyes were moving quickly across the words in the book and her face twisted in a smile. Her skin shone white like a blank page against the bright light of the CFL bulb.
It was an evening of celebration. She had finally managed her visa and tickets to London. She was invited to participate in a slam poetry contest there. She had been able to pull off this absolute opportunity, all by herself. I was one of the few and unfortunately the last one with whom she shared this lovely information. I was very happy for her. However, she seemed to be upset about something. Perhaps, because I didn’t tell her about my new number.
Meghan told me she had been trying to reach me. And finally she thought of sending me an email. A long one with precisely six words and a few digits.
“Date: October 20, 2013
Venue: Life cafe
Time: 6:30 pm.”
She did not have to ask for it but I apologized and slipped a vague reason for not sharing my number with anyone. “Lately, I have been trying to keep myself unplugged,” I said while flipping the pages of her book.
Meghan said, “Sometimes our life turns awfully unclear and sure we need time to understand it. You better just walk out of your heart and the dark corners of your brain. Unplugging helps.”
She has always been a free spirit. She never showed any kind of possessiveness towards people, even for her closed ones. And neither did she expect it from others. She was a personality Created by her own limits.
It made my heart shrink when she said she respects individuality. Life is no competition. Everyone needs to find their own happiness and stay there. I said, “Thank you. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful in a way that art is beautiful and intense at the same time.” She said nothing but flashed a Mona Lisa’s smile.
We talked about random ideas and she made me promise to see her again before she left for London. We drank pints of cider and had an exotic Italian platter. We shared a common love for Italian cuisine. Besides, she cooked it pretty well. She insisted on paying the bill, while something not very specified made me scribble my number on a piece of tissue paper. Before she left in a cab I inserted it in her bag. We hugged good bye to each other. We were unlikely to meet soon.. At least I thought so.
Early next morning I got the call from the police, that she’d been found in the driveway of a wrecking yard with her head badly beaten and her clothes missing. They had used iron and wood rods to beat her resulting in numerous injuries. It was a loss that was irreparable.
I could imagine how that parking lot was dark for one reason and one reason only. That night couldn’t have been worse for her and the morning couldn’t have been more terrifying for the people who saw her. I was told the people who found her could find nothing to identify her with, only my number on a piece of paper and some coffee coupons were found near her. Both her earlobes were torn. The animal son-of-a-bitch that had done this to her had left nothing on her. They had even torn her earrings off her. I suspect in that uncertain moment of darkness Meghan looked back for me. But it was too late.
I left for the hospital in unsteady and watery eyes and a hollow state of mind. By hollow I mean not empty but filled with nothing. I heard people saying that anybody who’d see her would be traumatized for life by this dead girl. At the least, Meghan will not remember about her own death.
I lied to the detective and surgeon and made out that I had been just an acquaintance and we met that evening for some time at that restaurant and we happened to exchange numbers. Right then, a bunch of words caught up in my throat. They made a home there which was set on fire. I couldn’t stand the thought of what she’d been through. I ended up puking, and feeling remorse because of the fact that she deserved someone better at her side. She definitely did.
I did not have the heart to see her. So I just managed to peek through the window on the door. That animal had broken her like a bag of bone china plates and I could hear the depth of the darkness she had fallen into. I could hear her trying to get through the battle at the edge of her flattened breaths. I could feel her bones cracking, echoing like a poem in my heart valves. Cowardly for about a minute, I stood there until my legs started to tremble and my eyes began to infuse with darkness and numbness.
It had got insanely all over my system. It wouldn’t have happened if I’d have offered to accompany her. It wasn’t a big deal. But whatever had happened that night now has become a terrible fact to encounter. I returned home in my guilty sac of flesh, stood like a fire under the fan, holding my breath. A coppery taste of blood flushed in my mouth. I’d reached a point where I just wanted to sleep deep within myself.