Author's Notes: This is based on Jane's observation in the Animal Husbandry book that Eddie's residential area doesn't seem very safe.
I'm not sure what happened to me or where I am, but the stabbing, shooting agony at every movement of my body is something I wish I could forget. My brain feels like it's wrapped in cotton wool. Everything is hazy, muffled. Then someone touches me, and the sharp torment brings everything to crystal clarity.
I'm in a bright room, tied down to a bed. I can't move. I can't speak. There's something sharp jabbing into my throat, forcing me to breathe. There are people surrounding me, touching and poking me all over. Who are they? What are they doing to me?
They speak and I can just make out my name, but their words are so fast. I can't grab onto them and force them into some sort of meaning.
Where's Eddie? Where's Liz? I need help. These people are hurting me. I can't stop them and. . . Uh! My arm. Someone's picked up my arm and is wrapping it up in something and I can't. . . They're torturing me. Why won't they stop?
Oh. They're rolling me onto my side and. . . my head, my neck. Someone's holding my head when they turned me and my neck. . . It feels tender, raw. Now someone else is feeling down my back and, ah, my ribs. Hands are pressing into them and it's like a liquid fire along my side.
Stop. Please just stop. Stop.
Eddie. Eddie and Liz are here.
I've been moved from the bright room and the mean people are gone, but nothing else has changed. I still hurt everywhere.
Eddie's saying something to me, but I can't make it out. His voice is shaking and he looks scared and furious and sad all at the same time. I try to speak, but the thing in my throat is still there, and I can't get any sound out. Instead, I signal to him that I want to write. He gets a pad and pen from Liz, and I use them to ask my questions.
He answers me and for a moment, everything makes sense. Then the knowledge breaks apart and floats away like it never existed, and I have to ask again. Soon, the pad is gone, and I can't ask anything.
Liz disappeared when LeAnn comes into the room, and now Eddie's gone, too. Where is he? He can't leave me here. I. . . I think they've stopped hurting me for now, but who knows when they'll come back? I need Eddie to stop them. He'll protect me.
LeAnn's talking to me. She's been a friend since college, and recently she. . . Mmph, she's. . . my head. She's stroking the top of my head above the bandage and. . . please, stop. It hurts. Please. . . it hurts.
"Hey!" Eddie's back. He's pushing LeAnn away, and he's yelling at her. My head still really hurts, but now that she's not touching me, the pounding is easing.
Once he's got her away, Eddie turns back to talk to me, and his voice changes from harsh to soft in a moment. He's. . . he's started touching me, gently on my leg. It's one of the few places on my body that doesn't hurt. It feels good, comforting, like he knows what I'm experiencing and he's going to help me through it.
More friends come and leave, but Eddie doesn't move and he doesn't let any of them touch me. They're all talking, but now they're starting to make a little sense. I'm in a hospital. Something happened at the apartment. Eddie saved my life. What could have possibly happened at the apartment? Was there a fire? I don't feel burned. What's wrong with me?
It's quiet now. Eddie's still here, but everyone else is gone.
He's turned off the lights so only the orange beams of the setting sun light the room through the gaps in the window shades and the room is finally calm.
The pain is still there, my constant companion, but now that no one's moving me around or making noise, I'm starting to drift. My eyelids feel so heavy, and I just want to surrender to the weariness. My eyes close, and I can hear Eddie's soothing voice urging me to rest, then nothing.
I hate Adam.
At least, that's what I think his name is. Maybe it's Alan. It could be Aaron. Anyway, whoever he is, I hate him. He's mean. He's sadistic. Of course, that's not too unusual here. It seems that no one working here does anything but hurt me. Aren't doctors supposed to help you? These people seem determined to find out where I hurt the most only so they can make it hurt even more.
Even after moving me into a quiet room, they still haven't stopped tormenting me. They stopped hurting me, and I'd thought they'd let me sleep, but that was before I met Adam. . . wait, maybe it's Andy, or was it Alex?
I'd fallen into a pain-free darkness only to be yanked out of it when Adolph started talking to me.
"Jane. . . wake up. Jane."
So I woke up. I opened my eyes and waited for him to tell me what had been so incredibly important that he had to disturb an exhausted, pain-filled woman. Then, all he'd said was, "Ok, go back to sleep, Jane."
What? I'm tired, everything hurts, and he wakes me up just to tell me to go back to sleep?
Well, I did. I went back to sleep only to hear his voice seemingly two minutes later, waking me up again. This repeated, over and over, until it got to the point where I decided to just stay awake. Of course, it's so quiet in the room and sleep's the only way I can escape the sharp agony that comes whenever I move, so I eventually fall asleep, only to be woken up again.
It's like he was watching me, lying in wait just outside the door until the second I've actually fallen asleep, then he runs in and wakes me up again.
Eddie's here, too, but he's not protecting me. Every time I wake up he's standing there, right next to Attila, but he isn't making any attempt to keep that evil nurse away from me. In fact, sometimes he's encouraging me to wake up, too. I just don't get it.
Sometime during the night, this annoying routine changed. I woke up with pain radiating through my body, focused mostly in my arm and my chest. What'd they do to me? My mind, everything's muddled, confused.
Squinting my eyes open I see Eddie. His panicked expression melts into relief when his eyes meet mine and he squeezes my leg gently. Then a doctor runs in and decides it's a really good idea to shine a flashlight in my eyes. He asks the nurse from hell some questions and then tells them both to keep me awake.
I don't want to stay awake. I'm exhausted and I just want to rest, but they won't let me. Eddie's keeping up a constant stream of talk, peppering his comments with encouragement to keep my eyes open.
Sometime during his one-way discussion, he decided it'd be a good idea to tell me jokes. I've worked with Eddie for years, and I've pretty much heard them all. None of them are clean, and only a few of them are really funny. I'm starting to nod off and then Adam, or Arnold, or maybe Albert, wakes me up again by shaking my shoulder.
Ok, that really hurts. What's Eddie doing here if he won't protect me? Why can't he just keep that sadist away for a few minutes? All I want to do is sleep, just for a little while. I don't think I'm asking for too much.
Finally, that flashlight-wielding doctor comes back and declares me ok to sleep again. I thought that meant I'd be left in peace, but I was wrong. After about five minutes, I'm being woken up again, and we're back to the old routine.
The evil male nurse leaves in the morning and an evil female nurse replaces him and keeps up the schedule. In fact, it isn't until the next day, afternoon I think, that I've finally been declared ok for sleep and cleared for a full dose of morphine.
Adam, Adolph, Attila, or whatever the hell he's called, is back, and he's got a needle. Actually, it's more like a spear. I didn't know they made needles that big, When I cringe away from his approach, I accidentally upset my ribs and now I'm wincing in pain.
Eddie's right by my side, rubbing my leg and whispering words of encouragement. He's calm, but then again, he can be. He's not the one facing the mother of all needles.
Just when I think I'm going to be stabbed, the nurse grabs my IV line and inserts the needle into that. For the moment, I'm relieved, and then a few minutes later, I'm fantastic.
I loooovvve Adam. He's the bestesttt ever nurse ever. No pain, just fllllyyyying, soooooo light.
There's Eddie. Hiyyaa, Eddie. You're soooo cute, ya know. You should jusssst wear black boxersss all the time, though. That'd beeee soooo much betterrrr. Yeahh. Lurrrve your chest. Yurr soooo. . .
It's dark and I feel so good. No pain. Somewhere in the distance I can hear Eddie yelling, but it doesn't matter, nothing matters. I just stay where I am and sleep.
They woke me up early because they're going to operate on my arm today. It's doesn't hurt nearly as much as it did now that I've still got some of the drugs in my system, but I don't like the idea of an operation.
Dr. Roberts, the ortho-something surgeon has been explaining it to me and Eddie, but I can barely follow him. I hope Eddie's paying attention. I stopped listening when he mentioned surgical pins. He needs to put them in because the ligaments and tendons are all messed up and a bunch of the bones are broken.
The operation'll take hours and, wait, did he just say. . . It'll take several months before I get the cast off. Is he kidding? Broken bones can't take that long to heal, can they?
That's the doctor talking to me. It must be important. Gotta pay attention here.
"Your throat's healed enough that we'll remove the tracheotomy tube while you're unconscious, so you'll wake up with only an oxygen mask."
Well, that's good news, I guess. It feels weird to breathe without air going through my mouth or nose. My throat's so dry. Without the tube, I'll be able to at least drink something. Oh, and I'll be able to talk. Then, I can finally force Eddie to tell me exactly what happened. I still don't quite know how I got so badly injured.
They've moved me into pre-op, and Eddie's gone. They wouldn't let him follow me past the white, swinging doors. I got one last glimpse of his worried face and then he disappeared.
I know they gave me some sort of drug before taking me out of my room, and it's making me feel so strange. Disconnected. It's almost like I'm observing everything that's happening to me from a distance. I don't mind that Eddie's not here. I don't really mind anything.
While I'm laying there, a female nurse pulls down my hospital gown and attaches heart monitor leads to my chest. Without the gown, I'm naked, completely exposed from the waist up to everyone in the room. While one part of my mind is shocked at this nurse's blase treatment, most of me doesn't care. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters.
Soon, I'm being moved into the surgical theater. My gown is completely removed and the cool air prickles my skin before a blue sheet is thrown over my body. My arms are being pulled out so I'm spread eagle on the bed, but there's no pain anymore, just movement.
Someone's leaning over me now. His mouth and nose are covered with a mask and he's saying something to me, but I can't understand the words. They're too vague, too far away.
I surrender, closing my eyes and allowing sleep to steal me away.
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