“FREE SAMPLE! FREE SAMPLE!” the Japanese woman yelled while hoisting a plastic fork in the air, spiked with Orange Chicken from the take-out window of Grill X. Faxon was a sucker for their Orange Chicken, but it would have been even better if it were free sushi. Free was free he thought, and who was he to complain? He moved swiftly toward the window. The woman leaned out, smiled warmly, and gave up the fork. As Faxon walked away smacking his lips, she called out “OH! Don’t forget free fortune, today only, here your cookie!” Faxon was surprised and grabbed the cookie in its plastic wrapper and thanked her. He shoved it in his backpack and headed to Darma Station to catch the train back to his sleepy suburb of Nedlam, just a 30 minute train ride outside of the metropolis of Orion East.
Once Faxon’s train came, he found a seat away from the drunk crowds and shady looking strangers. He put his headphones on, leaned back, closed his eyes, and got lost in the mixtape he’d made of his favorite band from the 1990s- Moutherloud. Their songs provided a soundtrack to the adult years of Faxon’s life which included good times of hazy days and nights with his pack of loyal friends, but also three failed relationships. More often than not he seemed to be in the throes of depression, pills, and alcohol. Faxon constantly flirted with changing his name and moving to a new city, leaving his debts, disappointments, and friends behind.
He remembered the fortune cookie and pulled it out of his pack. After fumbling with the wrapper for a few seconds, he freed the cookie, broke it open, and read his fortune:
You cannot go home Faxon because it is no longer there and never was. We don’t have homes, we only have each other. Meet me in the Tower. I will be by the magazines.
Faxon stared at the tiny paper strip like he needed glasses. He read it again and again. He turned off Moutherloud, stood up, and started pacing the train car.
Was it a joke, a prank being played on him by the staff at Grill X? Maybe, but he never talked to them about reading in the Tower late at night, and who the hell was Fawn? This was either some very deep meaningful shit, or downright crazy shit Faxon thought, but he was too curious to continue north on his ride.
At the next stop, he jumped off and ran across the platform just in time to catch a southbound train back into Orion East where he would get off at Hank Station and walk two blocks to the Tower.
His heart was racing. As much as Faxon knew it was nuts for a fortune to give a personal and immediate directive, he felt he had to follow its instruction. He entered the Tower slowly and looked around. It was the usual late night fare of bookworms, comic lovers, music aficionados, and transients, wasting time between trains, buses, and blown dates. Faxon walked up to the magazine stand as if he were walking up to a podium where an audience would await some earth shattering speech. He strained his eyeballs side to side- no one but a teenage boy looking at a Toxic Avenger comic. Faxon grabbed a copy of K!, (An oversaturated, yet informative rock music magazine out of London) skimmed over some articles and photos, then put it back on the rack.
What the fuck am I doing here? he thought, embarrassed and ashamed at himself for being foolish enough and lonely enough to believe that someone named Fawn was the answer to his prayers. He headed back out to the street and started walking back to Hank Station when an extremely loud bus with its high beams on roared up to the curb and opened its red door. A young female passenger got off and walked quickly past Faxon like she was on a mission. She was fair-haired and pretty, wearing a tweed winter jacket and a thick brown Jamaican-style beanie from which random spirals of her honey blonde hair fell out, running down her cheekbone and neck. She was carrying a coffee, had headphones on, and was heading into the Tower. He could smell her intoxicating scent and impulsively yelled out to her-
But she had already stopped and spun around before he called out. They closed the gap and stood there in the winter night, staring at each other as their nervous breaths turned into white mists that mingled and danced in the cold Orion East air. The smiles in their eyes knew one another, but their bodies had never met. It was OK. “Come on, let’s go in,” she said, reaching for his hand, as they headed into the Tower together and sat side by side, catching up on 29 years.
“Into Your Arms”, a song by The Lemonheads was playing softly through the Tower sound system as Faxon and Fawn sat there, holding hands and staring at each other. “How did this happen?” asked Faxon.
Fawn reached into her carry bag and took out a small strip of white paper. “This fortune. I was with my friend at this place we go to every week, Grill X in Orion West- that’s where I am from…”
Faxon interrupted anxiously, “You came all the way from Orion West? That’s like six hours away! There’s a Grill X there?”
“Is there one here too? Did you get a fortune also?” Fawn asked, to which Faxon nodded. “Oh my god. Well, anyway, so I opened it and…Read it for yourself!”
You cannot go home Fawn because it is no longer there and never was. We don’t have homes, we only have each other. Meet me in the Tower in Orion East this Saturday night around 10pm. I will be by the magazines. I know this is a lot to ask, but the journey is worth the destination.
Faxon was trembling. He handed his fortune to Fawn and she started trembling as well. She leaned against him and he pulled her in as they sat there in silence against one another for what seemed like hours, listening to The Best of the Lemonheads and bathing in one another’s aura.
“Can we walk Faxon? I want to walk. I know nothing about The East, and I want you to show me.”
He took her to some of his most beloved, most sacred places between Hank Station and Darma Station; his favorite coffee shop, book shop, music store, late night eatery. He told her of his history in these places- the highs, the lows. She held onto his arm, leaning her head against his shoulder from time to time and quietly taking it all in, trying to match what she was seeing with his stories. Fawn would even squint as if trying to imagine the scenes in Faxon’s tales of hell-raising and heartache.
“So we are both twenty-nine, huh?” Faxon pondered as he looked off into the sky while they walked. “Did we know each other in a past life? Is this why fortunes brought us together here?”
Fawn shook her head in bewilderment and attempted an educated guess, “I will say this- if for the past ten years I have been looking for you from a past life or a premonition, I went all the wrong directions and paid dearly for it up to now. Maybe I had to walk that troubled path to get to this clearing. What are you thinking of all this? Did you just know, like I did?”
Faxon was scared, yet excited. “You just know? Do you? Because I can tell you this- all I’ve known is to have a good time with my friends and be the life of the party, but I was always hiding how I felt inside- depressed, alone, misunderstood. A misfit looking for a village of aliens like me. And then I get that fortune and I just felt… I don’t know, at first I didn’t believe it. But then once I saw you, I felt sure, I felt alive. It was like my life was about to begin anew, you know?”
Fawn grabbed him and kissed him hard in the middle of Camenelli Street. Cabs and cars rushed past as they kissed long and passionately as if in an intimate setting. A bus came rushing down the lane they were standing in as Faxon grabbed Fawn and pushed her out of the way onto the curb, but since she was holding him so tight, she pulled him right down with her. They both broke out into laughter that was so loud and went on so long, people passing by looked at them as if they were crazy.
She stared into his eyes and broke out into a devilish grin, “OK, so I have this plan, and I’ve never done this kind of thing before, so please don’t judge me, but this once in a lifetime situation umm…” Fawn was nervously biting her lip and fidgeting her hands. “We need to get a hotel room tonight. It’s been a long, long day for me getting out here to meet you and it’s too late to catch a train back to your place, right?” Faxon agreed, but worried he didn’t have much money. Fawn could read his eyes “I got this. I have an AmEx from someone that owes me a big fucking favor.”
“Ah, she fucking swears! A deal breaker!”
They both laughed. Fawn crossed her eyes and in a character voice said, “I don’t fookin’ sweer!”
They checked into the pricey Hotel Hunter on the corner of Camenelli and Elm. Using the aliases of Fairfax and Fountain Rollins, they playfully asked the front desk manager for Room 666 and had their wish granted. The suite had 12 foot ceilings, a king sized bed, plush design, and all the amenities in the world, but neither of them could care less. All they wanted was to be alone with one another after such a long wait that they were unaware of until the fortunes.
As if Faxon and Fawn could not be more ready-made for one another, making love only further fused and synthesized their bodies and souls. Each swam deep in the sea of the other, as deep as they could go without being consumed forever, surfacing and heading back down again. Their bodies and souls combined. Afterward, they spooned and headed into the deepest, most peaceful sleep either of them had in years.
When morning came, harsh sunlight penetrated the thick curtains. Faxon opened his eyes to see that he was in bed alone. “Fawn?” he called out. No answer. He checked the bathroom. He called the front desk of the Hunter to see if she had checked out or at least left a note.
“No, Mr. Rollins,” the concierge explained, puzzled, “From what I am seeing here, and I asked around, you checked in alone. Did your company join you later?” Faxon hung up the phone, numb and dumbfounded. He reached into his backpack to find the fortune, then fell back into the bed and smelled the sheets. He could smell her- it was not a dream. Why would she leave? Everything felt so right, so perfect. Fate and fortunes brought them together and she had traveled so far to meet him. When they met, they both realized they were the completion of one another, or so he thought. Was this some sick and elaborate hoax?
His heart hurt, literally. There was a deep pain in his chest and though he’d never had a migraine, his head was killing him as well. Faxon washed up, got himself together and headed out into the city with its harsh realities to catch a train back to Nedlam. When he entered his apartment, it felt cold and strange to him. He sat on his couch looking around at his framed music and movie posters that he cherished, and broke down in tears. He felt like a part of him had died.
How could this be possible? You just met her! Dammit Faxon, it’s real, you know this was meant to be. So then why isn’t she here? He went to his fridge and grabbed a Leaf Ale then to the bathroom cabinet for an Oxycodone. Normally he waited until late at night to take his cocktail, but 10am on a Sunday seemed perfectly fine considering the circumstances. He just wanted to feel nothing.
Faxon’s friend Ed (who was also his roommate) came out of his bedroom in only his boxers, scratching his ass and looked at Faxon. “Morning. When did you get in?”
Faxon had put his shades on to mask his red blotchy eyes “Just a few minutes ago. I got drunk and missed the train so I stayed at my brother’s.”
Ed knew better. “Despite all your drinking, you don’t get drunk,” he grinned, “and you never stay at your brother’s. None of my business. Hey, I’m up a little later than usual. We are missing Candlepin. I am gonna shower, so why don’t you throw it on and catch me up, OK?”
“Sure,” Faxon said, taking off his shades and sliding off his jacket before sinking into the couch. Every Sunday morning at 10am, the two roommates would make Bloody Marys and watch Candlepin bowling on Orion Access TV together. It was a ritual that was never interrupted unless for a good cause- Fawn would have been the best cause he could think of to miss Candlepin forever.
When Candlepin ended at 11:15am, Ed headed to his painting studio, leaving Faxon alone with his heavy heart again. The only information he had on Fawn was her first name, birth year, and the fact that she lived in the Magellan Block of Orion West. This was of course 2026, fourteen years after the Information Abolishment Act wiped the world clean of cell phones, satellite and cable TV, and most importantly the Internet and e-mail. It was just like the 1970s again: land-line phones, 13 channels of family TV, pay by cash or American Express, mail by letter, buy what you need in an actual store, etc.
World leaders had gathered very discretely from 2008 to 2011 to discuss the fast-eroding state of society and decided that too much technology and media (the “Information Age”) was the root of most of the world’s problems. Years of pricy and painstaking research conducted by over a dozen private companies hired by world governments all came to the same glaring conclusion- the world, at least “media and information-wise” needed to be unplugged and then rewound to a definitive time to save itself. The IAA came down like God’s hammer in 2012.
At first there were riots, high profile murders and suicides, more terrorist attacks, and another big market crash. This was all to be predicted, but then in a few short years after the IAA, the U.S. government and many other countries were completely debt free, prospering and peaceful. The world landscape was a level playing field. Elders compared the post IAA world as similar to the early 1960s and mid 1970s.
As a 15-year-old kid, Faxon witnessed the comeback of the American dollar, the U.S. Postal Service, record stores, FM radio, publishing companies and bookstores. Authors, musicians, radio DJs and journalists were all making money. Cassette tapes, vinyl records, and VHS tapes were all the rage again too. Out were MasterCard and Visa, big banking, reality TV, video gaming, and digital media.
The craziest and most radical thing though was the renaming of many of the world’s largest, most famous cities in order to rid them of their nicknames, thus wiping out each city’s attractiveness or stigma. New York was no longer the “Big Apple”, nor Detroit the “Rock City”.
The only thing that Faxon wished was still around from the pre-IAA was the Internet. He could scour it to find Fawn, e-mail her, “Facebook” her, find out her actual mailing address at least. He felt so helpless.
Time was ebb and flow. Credits began and ended shows on his TV. Over the course of the day, Faxon downed a few more Leafs and another Oxy. As the sun set, he put on some Moutherloud, read a little poetry, and eventually fell into a restless sleep that would be littered with dreams about loss and being lost- dreams about a life without Fawn…
Monday morning, 8:30am. Hazy, foggy head. Late for work again. Faxon pulled his aching body out of the bed, showered, made coffee, got dressed in wrinkled clothes. He took the 10 minute walk to the train station and within 30 minutes was at the Sirius Sodahouse where he worked as a waiter for the past two years (the longest he’d ever held a job). The Sodahouse was a breakfast-brunch-lunch joint that ran hours from Monday through Friday, 6am to 3pm. Located just outside the Sirius Courthouse, it was always busy. Faxon was only given part-time hours and worked from 9ish until closing. He thought the gig was OK, but wished he’d worked at one of the cool record stores or book stores nearby. Problem was, everyone wanted to work at those places because the jobs paid well and had great benefits, even the mom and pop shops. Faxon didn’t have it too bad at the Sodahouse and they put up with his bullshit of showing up late half the time.
After work, Faxon would meet up with his buddy Rob who worked nearby as a post office employee, for drinks and a few games of darts. Afterward, Faxon would go to one of the many local music or book stores and get lost for an hour or so in literature and music before heading home to make his cocktail and hang out with Ed. They would watch old classics over and over again like Apocalypse Now or Reservoir Dogs. Whenever Ed either went to bed or was out for the night, Faxon would watch another genre of classics like Chasing Amy, Reality Bites, or High Fidelity. He would get emotionally invested in the characters, feeling their heartache, pleading for them to communicate with one another, frustrated at Karma and Fate for toying with these would-be lovers by breaking them up and sending them off to the wrong people or to wallow in self-pity alone. It didn’t matter they were actors in a movie… Faxon took it personally because he was as broken and flawed as the characters in these films. He had a hole in his heart that was patchworked with vices in place of love. He wanted a soulmate.
This Monday Rob was not working so Faxon had even more time to peruse the stores, but was sure to steer clear of the ones that he introduced Fawn to just 48 hours earlier. He couldn’t bring himself to even dwell at their thresholds, as if the memory of her fleeting presence in them now outweighed his own storied history in their aisles. He still could not get over how this girl came to mean so much, so quickly, other than she was his completion, his full realization of Love. She was greater than the sum of his parts. He tried to picture her face and her scent again, and when he did, a thought, a message from out of nowhere yet everywhere screamed at him-
Go to Grill X!
It was four city blocks away, a short train ride, but he decided to run it as fast as he could. Faxon had to get there before closing, which was 11pm. He didn’t know what to expect, what to look for. The lady who gave him the fortune? Would Fawn herself be there? Or would he leave without answers?
10:55pm. A few patrons were finishing up, paying their bills. The staff had even shut off some of the lights and started putting chairs up on the tables. The woman who gave out the free samples of Orange Chicken was there, sweeping the entranceway. He ran up to her “Fortunes? Fortune cookies?”
She gave him a sympathetic smile. “No free anymore with sample. Only for guests at end of dinner. You pay fifty cent a fortune unless you order full meal, OK? But no matter, we packed them up for night.” Faxon was frustrated and frantic.
“Can I use your restroom, please?” he asked the woman and she waved him toward the entrance to Grill X as if she could care less. Faxon didn’t know what he would do once inside the restaurant. He put his hands in his pockets, took them out again, walked halfway to the bathroom and stopped in the hallway to look back toward the entrance again when he heard a couple talking.
“Greg, look at my fortune! What’s this even mean? This isn’t a fortune!”
“Hmm… strange. Maybe it was planted here, not meant for us. Looks like code between secret lovers. Dunno.”
Faxon stood over the couple as they crunched on their fortune cookies, looking up at him puzzled and uncomfortable. The man furrowed his brow and spoke up, “Can we help you?”
“I need to see that fortune, please,” he said, but reached into the plate to grab it anyway.
Daylight resets us right back at Zero. The days are not kind. Distance is the devil. Can Fate beat all odds? If so, meet me at the Tower in Orion West on Saturday night at 10pm.
Faxon was laughing and crying at the same time. His heart was beating through his chest and his feet were hardly on the ground. The couple slowly and quietly moved away from the table, as they backed out of the restaurant, still staring at him.
“She exists! I’m not crazy! It is fate! Never mind, you guys have no idea what I am talking about but I don’t even know you anyway. Just don’t tell anyone about the crazy guy and the fortune, OK?” as he gingerly folded it and put it in the pocket of his jeans.
All the way home to Nedlam he listened to his favorite Moutherloud album from 1992, Sick from Static with a smile on his face, replaying the entire night he had with Fawn 48 hours earlier. He was trying to remember the moment he fell in love with her. Was it right outside the Tower when they touched hands? Was it the kiss in the street? Making love at the Hunter? Faxon figured that it was probably a frame by frame fall that happened throughout the night but only fully realized in the morning when he thought she was gone forever. That morning was the also the most scared he’d been in his life. Considering what he went through in his childhood with his insane and abusive father, that was saying a lot. Afraid to be without someone that you didn’t even know existed only hours earlier? Was that possible?
Faxon lie in bed that night, completely obsessed with counting the days, hours, and minutes until he would see Fawn again. He would have to go down to the American Metro Office after work in the morning to buy a ticket for a train to Orion West. He’d just gotten paid that Monday and didn’t care if he had to use his whole week’s take to get to and from O.W. Four days of work. Four long days and maddening nights in between, Faxon thought.
He was close to Ed, even closer to Rob, but he didn’t feel he could tell either one of them about the fortunes and Fawn. He just didn’t think they’d believe it and try to talk him out of going to O.W. He decided to bide his nights just drinking with them, watching movies, shooting darts- anything to pass the time more quickly leading up to his Saturday journey to see Fawn.
Saturday, 7:46pm. Faxon stepped off the train at Mercury Station in Orion West. He took a cab to Grenbelf Avenue, got off in front of the Tower with his heart pounding through his chest. He knew that Fawn wouldn’t be there for another two hours, but he wanted to at least get his bearings and calm himself down. He wanted to see what other landmarks surrounded the Tower, what other places Fawn might frequent. After their in-depth conversations, he pretty much knew what things and places she liked. He found a place called Utopia Books & Music and headed inside. U2’s “Stay” segued into Radiohead’s “High and Dry”. Ahh, this place plays the good classic rock! Faxon went over to the jazz section, thumbed through the vinyl catalog of Miles & Coltrane. They had good stuff: rare albums, imports, original artwork, signed copies of albums- everything. I know she comes into this place. I bet it’s her favorite, Faxon thought.
He headed over to the books, grabbed a copy of the new book Digformation Blues by Chuck Klosterman, the legendary 54-year-old writer who was doing his best work and only getting better. Just by the back cover synopsis, Faxon knew he was going to buy it:
Just imagine if the IAA never happened? Where would we be? Everyone in
America- hacked! Every move by every being- tracked…
It was 9:40pm all of a sudden. Faxon got a coffee at the checkout counter of Utopia on the way out and headed into the cold city night to walk to the Tower and meet his love of only one week, one meeting. Caution blew in the wind and the chips were scattered wherever they were. Fortunes were all the rage now and dictating the whole thing.
He entered the Tower at 9:54pm to find Fawn, her hair covering her face, engrossed in a magazine with her headphones on. She was wearing a navy peacoat and a purple scarf. Even from the distance of the lobby entrance to the magazine lounge, he could smell her scent and was overwhelmed. She looked up, sensing he was present, pulled her headphones off her ears as a huge smile came across her face. Her eyes lit up and filled with tears.
“Baby, you came to me!” she said as she stood up and embraced Faxon like a soldier coming home. They kissed and he collapsed next to her on the couch in the lounge. The Tower was running a classic rock mix of early ’00s artists: Ryan Adams, My Morning Jacket, The Airborne Toxic Event, and The Twilight Singers. Fawn fluttered her nervous yet hopeful eyes at Faxon, “Can I show you around West? The places and stuff that are part of me?” to which Faxon pulled her up out of the couch and they headed out the door into the cold night.
Hand in hand they walked and talked about their past. Each had heartbreak, along with the stories and scars to prove it all. It didn’t matter now, but each thought it was important for the other to know what made them who they were.
“You know, I got rid of my last name when given the option during the IAA Acceleration Program. I just felt I was so different than my family. I wanted a non-identity to that name. No association. I get the sense you did the same, because you never mentioned your family or your last name either.”
“Yeah, I did the same, and yes, for the same reasons,” Faxon stated. “I just… I love them I guess, but I am so different than all of them, so I jumped at the chance. It hurt them, but we never talked much anyway and I think they got over it. We are comfortably distant, as we always were.”
Fawn looked sad, but like she understood everything Faxon said before he even said it. They simultaneously took a deep breath and started laughing. “Come on, I want to show you Utopia, my favorite music store.” Faxon just shook his head in disbelief, but not surprise. He didn’t even bother telling her how he’d been there earlier, just knowing it was her favorite place. She knew him in that same way. They just absorbed each other’s presence, words, touch, worlds.
After spending some time in Utopia, getting lost in vinyl and posters, the two young lovers headed back out into the city, running across Sine Street, almost getting wiped out by not one, but two buses coming from opposite directions, each running a red light. They stopped and froze on the double yellow line as the two metal beasts passed each other. They locked bodies in a protective embrace and kissed before finishing their dart across the avenue.
Over the next hour, Fawn showed Faxon her favorite coffeehouse, breakfast diner, and other places she frequented. They had the same love of urban life and a great appreciation for the history of the cities they came from, even if the names had changed.
This time, it was Faxon who brought an AmEx card. At home over the phone, he’d booked a cheap room for one night in the least expensive hotel he could find within a short cab ride away from the Tower. Fawn was impressed! They entered The Storic Hotel on Markstan Place and used the same aliases to get a room- this time, #333 since there were only 348 rooms and at least it would be half of 666.
Neither of them were nervous at all. It was as if they had been companions in intimacy for years. They knew each other’s wants and needs and how to satisfy them. They made love for a couple of hours before laying in each other’s arms, talking about the people and things that shaped them.
“So, we know so much about one another that I think it’s time we talk about what we do now with all this. Do I move here? Do you move out to East? What now?” Faxon got no response. He gently pushed Fawn’s hair out of her face to find her sleeping. Her breathing transitioned into paced out sighs that carried on into the night and lulled Faxon to sleep as well…
* * * *
…White light. White ceiling tiles. White walls. White sheets. Everything white. Faxon’s throat felt like he’d swallowed a thousand razorblades. His eyeballs ached like they were squeezed in a vice. He could not move, feeling like he was weightless jelly, just vibrating on a plate. He was in a hospital- that he could surmise, but why? Was it a dream?
His eyes tried to focus on a blur approaching him… a woman; a nurse.
“Fawn?” he attempted to speak, but all that came out was a hoarse whisper.
“Rest,” she said and rubbed his hand. Her eyes were wide in amazement. She breathed heavily, nervously, and shook her head in disbelief.
“What?” his mouth worded as he got his focus and could see that the woman was not Fawn.
“You have been in a coma for the past 363 days. Your family was going to have to pull the plug on you in 48 hours. This is truly a miracle!”
The beeping on Faxon’s monitor sped up and for a moment the nurse looked up at the screen. “Breathe, breathe, take it easy. I know this is a lot to process,” she said as she reached for the wall phone to call his family.
“Don’t!” he whispered in desperation, weakly grabbing at her arm with his index finger and thumb. She leaned in close to make out what he was saying. “Don’t call them. I don’t care if they know I am alive, awake. Just tell me what happened, where am I?”
The nurse told him her name was April and that he was in the Basthavian Hospital of Clerion Block 4, just outside of Orion East.
Suddenly his heart hurt, badly. Fawn was just a coma dream? A long, deep, vivid, ongoing coma dream? No! He found perfection and fell in love, in a coma.
He wished he’d just stayed in there forever, but now he just wanted to die. What now? Back to a life working part-time at the Sodahouse? A few friends that didn’t really know him as well as they thought they did? A shit-hole apartment he owed back rent on? His depression and booze and pills? It was all tolerable until he met Fawn, or thought he met her, but now? That was no life.
“Hey, are you there?” Nurse April asked and shook his shoulder lightly. Faxon snapped out of his dark headspace enough to listen.
She continued, “Just about a year ago, you were running across the street, just outside of Hank Station, and you got hit by a bus. Now here is where it gets very interesting- a young woman got hit by a bus on the opposite side of the street right around the same time. She’s here too and has been in a coma as well, since that day.”
Faxon’s monitor was beeping faster than ever. He was sweating, dizzy, running out of breath. He felt a frantic energy take over his body and he tried to sit up, but Nurse April held him down, as did a doctor who had rushed in.
“Take it easy! You don’t have any muscle mass, you will have a long recovery,” the doctor said.
“What’s her name? Where is she? Is her name Fawn?”
Nurse April and the doctor looked at each other, baffled, silently confirming that in fact, it was Fawn. The doctor spoke, “Witnesses that day say you were both running toward each other, right outside a place that is now closed down- the Tower. You were struck by different buses at the same time and were thrown on top of one another in the median strip. You both suffered severe head injuries, internal bleeding, many broken bones, yet both of your bodies recovered at a rapid pace while in comas. The fact that you woke up and have your memory and speech is nothing short of a miracle, but the girl… well, her family has to take her off of life support in 48 hours. Government rules.”
“How did you know her name?” Nurse April asked Faxon. “There’s no evidence that you ever knew one another. Every friend and family member that has been in here over the past year for either of you just thought it was such a sad twist of fate that you both got struck by those buses at the same time.”
Faxon said nothing, but started to weep from inside. His tear ducts weren’t working yet. His entire body was like a drought. He was about to ask if he could see her, but before he could muster the question, an Asian orderly was wheeling Fawn in. She looked angelic, laying there in her hospital bed. He could not hug her, kiss her. He could only reach out and touch the white sheet that draped her thigh and caressed it, feeling her still form. Wake up, wake up, he pleaded, staring at her face. The doctor and Nurse April left, allowing Faxon and Fawn to lay side by side in silence for some time. As much as he tried to stay awake, Faxon eventually succumbed to his post-coma exhaustion…
When he woke, a handful of people were standing just outside the door, arguing. The doctor and Nurse April were talking to an older couple and younger man. He could not hear what they were saying. Fawn was still by his side. He touched her cheek gently with the back of his hand.
Suddenly the door opened and everyone came in. Nurse April looked sad, and she spoke for the group. “Faxon, this is Fawn’s family and the time has come. There is nothing we can do, I’m so sorry,” she stated, with tears pooling in her eyes.
“No! It’s two days away. She will wake up! You have to give her two more days!”
With Nurse April choking back tears, the doctor intervened, “Faxon, you just woke up from a two day sleep. It’s common with the small percentage of patients who actually come out of comas; they sleep for very long intervals the first couple of weeks back. Today is day 365. I am sorry Faxon.”
Faxon grew angry. He looked at her mother, father, and brother in disgust, “You don’t care! You are probably relieved she’s going to die. You probably begged for this day to come quick! You never appreciated her and she is the most amazing person! What’s wrong with you people?”
The brother came toward him, finger pointed and shaking, “Who are you to judge? You never even met her. You are speculating! She was just different. We weren’t close, but we loved her.”
“Loved? See, you already see her as gone! I LOVE her! I only got a fleeting glimpse and yet I fell in love with her.” Faxon looked back to the doctor and Nurse April. Tears had found his eyes. “Please, please, I beg you. Change the charts! Give her more time, give us more time. Please.”
The family could not look at Faxon. His emotional diatribe mustered some guilt on their part. They walked out of the room, somber, conflicted. The door opened several minutes later as the Asian orderly wheeled in a cart- lunch. Faxon didn’t want to eat, but lifted the lid from the tray to see what hospitals served people who just came out of comas.
A fortune cookie.
He fumbled at it with his frail, shaking hands, and broke it open to reveal the fortune. His eyes focused:
Scream as loud as your voice will let you! I will hear you, I will feel you. I will wake, but you only have seconds! I love you. Save us!
He grabbed the side rails of his bed, he sat straight up, he opened his mouth, and his guts came out as primitive sounds. His eyeballs hemorrhaged, his blood vessels burst, and then he fell back into his pillow, his body limp again from exhaustion, listening, waiting…
…and somewhere down the hall, somewhere in Basthavian Hospital, he heard a girl screaming back.
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