The day had finally arrived. I was sitting up in my bed, the same room I’ve been in ever since I first woke up. Every now and then, I was able to lave the room, being pushed around by the same woman, to just have a change of scenery, but this happened infrequently and for short bursts of time. My primary habitation remained this room.
But perhaps that would finally change today! My supposed mother was sitting by the bed and the physician, likewise, was also sitting on the comfy, plush stool (I was curious enough that I requested help from the woman to hop over to them to see what they felt like, much to her confusion) albeit not by my bed.
Stacked against the wall were two metal sticks with grey circles and handles on them. I didn’t know what they were but they kind of reminded me of a weapon.
In his hands were varying pieces of paper and he looked through them briefly, as if to assure himself in the knowledge contained within.
“Well, from what we could see, there’s only good things to say,” He began, the woman sitting beside me visibly glowing from the initial sentence; her face was smiling and her eyes were sharp but upturned.
“From her the scan, everything seemed normal; no unusual activity in the previously cancerous region. There’s also been no side-effects from the scan and, reportedly, there’s been no issues since she’s woken up,” He gave a sidelong glance towards me, as if seeing if I would comment. I didn’t, unsurprisingly. His face remained impassive, although with a polite smile like he was also pleased with this news.
“That’s wonderful,” The woman began, looking relieved but her voice sounded a bit… Tired? “Then, she’s free to go? No more operations or medication?”
“I don’t know about medication--if she starts to experience pain we can prescribe some painkillers for her--but she is free to go. All that’s left is some voluntary rehab with a physiotherapist which we encourage you to attend. We can also send you to an associated company to produce a prosthetic for her, if that’s what you want.
“Ah,” Like he suddenly remembered something, “The crutches are right over there,” He pointed towards the wooden sticks.
“We can take them for free?”
“You’re being lent them but you can keep them for as long as you need to. If you don’t need them anymore, we’d appreciate it if you returned them. You will need to adjust the height of them first, though.”
“Yeah, sure. We’ll definitely do those, then,” Sitting silently and listening to this conversation about me made me feel powerless in more ways than one.
“Excellent. Just come to the front desk and we can give you the information and sign you out.” Apparently, he had given all the information he had for he walked out brusquely.
Did I get any time to digest all that had been said? No. As soon as he left the woman, the woman turned towards.
“Did you hear that, Avery? You can finally go home,” Her last words were soft and muffled, almost inaudible, as she hugged me tightly, my face contorted in an indescribable expression as small, minute, but fiery feelings erupted through me.
It was awkward and uncomfortable, being hugged by an older woman, but there was some part of me that just let go, happy to receive this kind of affection and genuine love. Even if it wasn’t my actual mother.
As she pulled back, staring at her mouth, I could notice an awkward look creep up onto her face.
“Well, we can’t have you walk-,” She caught herself quickly before saying what she was going to say, “leaving while dressed in that so I brought some of your clothes along. Now, would you like my help or not?”
As she said those words, my mind wasn’t even thinking about the slip up midway through. Clothes? Getting dressed? Ahhhhhh…
My expression must’ve been worrisome for it was not long until she said:
“I don’t have to help if you really don’t want to,” Trying to placate me. That’s not the part that’s hard for me!
Firstly, it’s not even my body--well, I mean, it sort of is but it sort of isn’t; it’d feel like I was peeping on someone even though it’s me. Secondly, it’s not even my body; it’s so different and knowing about it is one thing but seeing it? I don’t know.
But having her see me is even worse! I had to calm down, calm down and focus. Deep breathes, but figuratively, because doing it literally would probably worry her even further.
Phew. I’m calm. Mostly.
“I-I’m fine,” my voice was weak and shaky, like I hadn’t spoken in days. Huh, that’s kinda true. “I can… Get dressed by myself.”
“Well, if you say so, sweetie. I’ll just leave the bag on your bed,” She did exactly that and, as she was reaching for the door, “Just call for me if you need any help, okay? I’ll be waiting right outside.”
Well, at least she was gone. Now, I could break down alone.
The first thing to do was to inspect the clothes that I apparently own. Opening the bag and neatly arranging everything on the bed (as neat as one can do when they’re confined to the bed and have a small reach), there was a pale green non-restrictive dress, underwear, and a jacket.
The dress was unlike anything I had seen before; it had short sleeves--a very uncommon practice--and the skirt was also unusually short. I stretched out my left leg next to it and it seemed to be about knee-length.
Next, there was that item I decided not to think about.
Finally, the jacket. Frankly, it looked very impractical. It was white, short, and shiny, like recently cleaned silverware. I reckoned it wouldn’t even reach my hips but at least it had long sleeves.
After seeing so many people, I suppose I got used to the strange fashion.
Well, I supposed, the first thing I had to do was take off this blue dress thingy, which was an ordeal within itself. It was like a dress but just not as nice looking; taking it off meant revealing everything at once.
Suffice to say, I didn’t immediately remove it. I gripped the hemline at the bottom but my hands just froze, unable to move. I don’t know how long I stayed like that but my mind was in fits.
Okay, this isn’t working, I thought. I should take it slowly, and not all at once. But how? For a teenage mind, the solutions weren’t promising for my mental health but, at the end of the day, I had no other options.
Believing it best to be acquainted with my body before seeing it for the first time, I closed my eyes and began to just touch myself. I touched my stump, how it was covered in bandages. At the end, it was flabby, and the fat of my thigh--how little of it there was, anyway--was strange, like poking a fish. The rest of my thigh, now, at least that was familiar to me.
With my left leg, I slid my hands up and down it, grasping the curves and contours. With my eyes closed, it felt just like my leg before.
As my hands drew upwards, my breathing quickened and my heart was pounding like I was in the heat of battle. There was flat, there was plush, yes, but it was mostly bone. I was skinny, unhealthily so.
I couldn’t feel the womanly curves, the salacious areas of the body men would salivate over. I felt myself, and I felt nothing.
Nothing is one way to describe it. Once the absence of something was confirmed, my heart, which I didn’t think could beat any faster, sped up. My will broke down and my hands moved away as, releasing me from this self-induced torture.
I couldn’t help it as my eyes started to moisten once my fingers began tracing over the individual ribs, feeling the muscles in between. This skeletal frame was all too real, too present. And it was me.
This is my body now.
My searching hands practically brushed over the rest--the remaining two protrusions, the sticking out clavicles, and the bony arms.
My vision was blurred and it was all I could do to not make a mess of myself; I had to get dressed.
Clumsily, and no doubt ripping the dress partly, I threw it off, over my head. For once, I was thankful for being small; it was much easier to remove than I thought.
The pale-green, light dress was similar. I’d never worn a dress before but those thoughts--the proper way to put on a dress--didn’t matter to me at that moment; I had located the head and armholes and that was enough for me.
I probably tore that as well.
My eyes were squinty but the whole world felt strange--it felt so surreal. It just didn’t feel like me. But it was.
The undergarments were easy--one fewer leg to get in the way.
The jacket, thankfully, was open and loose; it didn’t seem like it had to be worn in an ornate or overly neat fashion. Most people I’d seen so far looked fairly casual and relaxed. I’m sure the woman wouldn’t mind how I wore it.
Finally, I was done. Sniffling, I rubbed my snotty nose against the bed, drying my eyes as well.
“M-mother,” I tried to shout but even I could barely hear myself.
“Mom!” I eventually got one out that was loud enough for the woman quickly opened the door, perhaps sensing the distress in my voice. The words were foreign and strange but this was probably what Avery referred to them as. There was just something there that sounded… Genuine.
Seeing my pitiful state, she rushed on over and enveloped me in another bear hug.
I-I just couldn’t help myself. I let myself go and wrapped my arms back around her, hugging her tightly. It was fake, I wasn’t her daughter, but I felt safer within her arms than I did earlier, all alone.
My brain stopped thinking at that point. I was lost in her scent, in the sensation, in the alien feelings rumbling around inside me.
But nothing lasts forever. We parted, and she tidied up my tousled hair, the look of worry still remaining on her face.
“Sweetie, I love you. You don’t have to do things alone; I’m here for you. Okay?”
I nodded my head.
“Why don’t we get going?” She whispered into my ear after another quick hug.
Yeah; I think I’d like that.
Anywhere but here.
Any body but this one.