She was just about five feet tall. The edema had affected her feet mostly, and face. The bedsheet was the same white she was tired of seeing, and what she wore was what had been on her for the last seven weeks. It was eighteen minutes past six in the evening when the doctor came in, and she coiled up, closed her eyes and pretended she was a foetus again. That way, she could also pretend she was floating in amniotic fluid; all the doctor said would come in distant echoes. She had heard it too many times  – ‘Lie still’, ‘Bend your head downwards’ ‘You are going to feel some pressure now’ ‘Wiggle your toes for me, please’ ‘This is going to hurt a little bit’ ‘Please don’t make any sudden movements’ ‘Now wiggle your toes for me again’ ‘Can you feel that?’ ‘How about this?’ ‘Feel it?’ ‘Good!’ ‘You’re doing great’ ‘We’re almost done now’ ‘Good girl!’ ‘Now you’re going to have to stay put for the next twelve hours, okay.’


Twelve hours, Seven hundred and twenty minutes, Forty-three thousand, two hundred seconds.


At 7pm – two thousand, five hundred and twenty seconds later, she’d dozed off into a light sleep where she had become used to escaping to. Still lying in a foetal position, her feet going numb, the headache getting worse, the pain seeping through her nerves, she slipped into gossamer dreams in which she laid supine on the clouds, counting the seconds. Two thousand, five hundred and twenty-one, two thousand, five hundred and twenty-two…looking down at the world passing her by. Sounds wafted in through the open window, into the unlit room, nudging her out of sleep.

Four thousand, three hundred and twenty seconds gone and the tears filmed her eyes again, as she struggled to drown out the sound of applause, spoken words, acoustics, laughter, joy, snippets of her passion, in the air above her head. She could not move. The migraine any premature movement would trigger was not on her wish list, so she stayed still, her eyes still closed… “It lives in us!” the crowd chanted, and her tears fell. They were there, she was confined, in a hospital, in a room, on a bed, in a particular position. Only her heart burst out and flitted out to where the sounds of life were coming from, just meters away. She fell asleep.


Six thousand, one hundred and twenty seconds gone. She was in a race car with a faceless man. She sat straight, and he sped off on a road that ran up into the sky. She rolled down the windows and let the air blast in. She giggled. Six thousand one hundred and twenty-one, six thousand one hundred and twenty-three, they rode on, the faceless driver saying nothing.

The pain started fading. It started from her feet up, channeling into a steady stream of numbness up her spine, down her arms, into her head; her entire body was becoming a calm monotonous hum. The car gathered speed and bliss became the wind, bathing her with invited force. Her giggles turned to laughter.


Thirty-five thousand, nine hundred and forty seconds after the ride began, they had arrived at a gated community. She was too drunk on bliss to focus. The gate rolled open, and the faceless man was just about driving in when a hand grabbed her from outside the car, strangling her. “Open the door and Jump!” the faceless man ordered. She opened the door, and hesitating slightly, jumped out. Thirty-five thousand, nine hundred and forty-one, thirty-five thousand, nine hundred and forty-two…she fell – through the bliss, through the laughter, through painlessness; down, down, down…


Forty-three thousand, two hundred seconds gone, she laid in a hospital, in a room, on a bed, in a position, her pulse too weak for life, nurses rushing in and out. “Adrenalin!” the doctor screamed. Scrambling. Her mother was in the hallway, equally frantic, her hair disheveled, she had been praying. Her mother – that arm that grabbed her, and begged her back. They injected her with adrenalin, her heartrate normalized, her breathing picked up.

Faux calm…faux bliss…


Forty-three thousand, two hundred.

Seven hundred and twenty.


Another near-death experience.


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