A random chapter

*I got my second concussion a few days before the prom. It was mid June, we have already passed all our most-feared tests and were just fooling around the dorm and waiting for the big day to come. We had a perfect, worry-less life that now seems so impossible. Ira and I had purchased our dresses early, before all of that drama has even started, so we felt pretty confident while going for walks, hikes, and ice cream trips in a do-enjoy-repeat mode.
That evening, there were 4 of us in our dorm room: Sunny and I, her guy-friend with a boyfriend potential, and Lex. While Sunny and the guy were doing some science tests for fun, Lex and I tried to come up with a third chorus for the Allegra’s song. We had most of the lyrics (originated from my poem and spiced up with Lex’ slang, for the genre specifics) ready, but there had to be something between the first two choruses and the final screaming session. Lex and I were sitting on my bed side by side, and then, trying to convince him of my idea of the perfect finale, I turned to face him and curled my feet right at the edge of the mattress. While arguing, I articulated. In the heat of conversation, Lex tried to grab my arm to have a chance to counter my arguments, but I pushed back. The distance between my bed and our study desk was pretty short, so the back of my head pressed against its corner in less than a second.
At first, the world went dark. I didn’t completely pass out, but my consciousness was gone right after the hit. Sunny was next to me on the floor, concerned. She produced a glass of water and tried to smile, but looked worried. Her guy friend was clearly freaked out as he started packing his things to leave. They both confirmed there was an audible crack at the moment of my skull and the desk collision.
Everything was slow and I felt that the world changed its colors. Lex was still sitting at the edge of my bed, motionless. He didn’t say a word and just stared.
Sunny and her friend made sure I was ok before they left. The guy needed to go and Sunny wanted to summon Dimon and go shopping. I stayed on the floor for a while, drank water and slowly returned to where I was sitting. Lex looked me in the eye and said that everything would be ok. I didn’t believe that for a second. He then started going back to his room to ‘finish things up”. I knew he was scared and, feeling responsible, didn’t want to be further involved. Leaving was what Lex was best at. It didn’t really matter to me at that point, as I already felt lonely and instantly, incredibly sleepy.
After the left, I tried to dose off. I was laying atop my bed covers, listening to the sunset quietness: everyone has already gone partying. The school security wasn’t as strict after the curriculum was over, besides, most of us would be gone from the dorm in a couple of weeks. When I almost closed my eyes tight enough, there was a light knock on the door. I had no idea on who that might be, so I just said, “Come in”. After Lex has left, the door remained unlocked as I felt too weak to get up and lock it. Ira briefly opened the door and quickly shut it behind her, knowing that the light from the hallway wouldn’t make me very happy. She was my true best friend.
Apparently, Sunny has let her know that I was “nearly dying, again”. Sunny had a way with words and Ira was too good to let this comment pass. So she returned from the park, where she met Sunny and Dimon, to go check on me. She sat with me in the dark, without knowing the full story of what happened, just brushing my hair. It was so touching and sweet that I burst into tears. Then, realizing it was my second concussion and, remembering Dr. Jacob’s comment after I had my first one, “you have to stop, or it won’t end well”, I started laughing. But thinking about the possible consequences and realizing I could loose my chance of being a successful student and a future grown up, I continued crying. Those two emotions were so competitive and nothing could win over me. Ira later commented that seeing me laughing and crying at the same time was one of the scariest things she’s ever seen in her life.
We sat there together, hugging and thinking about exciting stuff. We were both in the prom rehearsal committee and had to practice waltz every other day to be on stage before the Lyceum director would give her speech. I didn’t have much fun or success with waltzing, but little did I know at the time that my dancing career (or imitation of it) was truly over on that specific day.
Sunny returned when it was completely dark – happy and well-rested, with a bag of popcorn. The three of us sat on my bed with the lights on (Sunny said it looked like a morgue otherwise), munched on popcorn and fantasized about our future lives, ready to take a full turn in a matter of weeks.
The next day was a Saturday and Sunny with Dimon left to be with their family. I wanted to stay at the dorm and do some writing, but then realized that Ira was also gone and post-writing fun wasn’t going to happen, so I decided to go see my mom. I took an afternoon bus and, though I was still weak and my thoughts were scrambled, the ride was enjoyable.
When I got home, my mom was busy with her garden and, since I volunteered to help, we both spent the evening pulling the weeds and watering the flowers. It was not my favorite thing to do, but at that time, it almost felt like meditation. I have already stopped going out with my ex-classmates, so Saturday night was nowhere special. Mom and I had a late dinner and watched some silly comedies on tv, then took showers and went to sleep, which is always the best possible resolution for a long day.
The next morning, I woke up with a headache and a swollen face. I felt weak and nauseous. It took my mom a second to diagnose me with a concussion. She tried to convince me to go the emergency room, but I insisted that no one is going to do anything on a Sunday anyway, so I’d go first thing in the morning. We spent the day indoors, watching shows and eating sandwiches. Mom made us a delicious chocolate cake.
Monday morning came quickly and I took an early bus going to the financial district of the city, where the diagnostics hospital was. Mom was going to work for the morning, as Monday was the busiest day at the pharmacy, to join me in the hospital in the afternoon. She was sure they’d want me to stay at least for a day for some tests.
At the reception desk, they looked at me and somehow had a doctor available in less than fifteen minutes. In addition to the swelling, my face then featured a brand-new black eye which was actually pale blue, with yellowish undertones. The doctor examined me and asked if had a lot of liquid during these couple of days. Of course, I told him, that and a bunch of over the counter and prescription drugs my mom always had stashed just in case. The doctor smiled, knowing he dealt with a pharmacist’s daughter. They sent me down the hallway to do some tests; the nurses were all over me. They took my vitals, checked my weight and eye sight (which was much worse at that time), and crowned me with a sci-fi looking wireframe, which was supposed to act as a conductor for their fancy, intricate-looking machine, tasked to record my brain activity. They didn’t take x-rays, as brain was such delicate tissue, and didn’t want to CAT-scan me either, probably because everything was a little too obvious. Later, I learned, the fantastical aggregate was a mere device for a computer brain tomography.
I felt sleepy and somehow tired when a nice, middle-aged doctor appeared. He asked me a few questions and assured me I’d be “all fine” before the prom night. There was exactly 1 week left.
After the initial tests came in, the doctor just nodded and inquired if any adults were accompanying me. I let him know that my mom would arrive in a few hours. He then smiled and, with a boyish grin, asked me whether I’d like to see my brain scan results. “Of course!”, – I screamed, as that was almost enough to make my nausea and throbbing headache go away. The doctor opened his brief folder and handed me a single piece of paper, which was enough for him to diagnose me with a second-degree concussion.*

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