the short story project


Coma dépassé  by Emily Serenade

Where does the time go when it is all there is left? In the moments that lead up to existing and being a memory too many questions are left unanswered. The memory of what we call “human beings” preserved by a stone, a candlelight vigil, and an example. An example each time a plastic bag sits lonely in a pocket and every time a soul catches fire to death so near. If she died then it was her own fault, didn’t do it right, not an authentic junkie, too much to handle. When the plastic bag comes out of another pocket and into a lonely soul her example will be preserved. Not her dignity, her tears, the chaos, but the end. The certified brain death of a girl with a heart on fire. A life lived that didn’t end in deep unconscious, but a life lived regularly unconscious. Who is to say death hadn’t come for her long ago with sleepless weeks only to come to shining lights and empty concerns. To sit on luxurious fast-food porcelain losing consciousness one interrupted breath at a time. As the shades of her skin turned blue her heart held on in hopes that one day she would see him again. One day she would be more than a preserved “human” with rotting veins, crooked teeth, cigarette stains, and droopy eyes. She was sure of it. One day she would win his heart even if hers had shattered along with every other dream before that plastic bag came along. She spent all hours of her semi-conscious dance thinking of him and how she wasn’t good enough. Until one day to her delight all thinking stopped, and the irreversible damage was confirmed, coma dépassé.


She met him at the library where he was tucked away in a corner with his head in a book. She straightened her posture, pulled down her sleeves, open her eyes wide, and took in his soul. His hair pulled back, his eyes deep like wet stones on a beach, and hands brittle and cracked. His cracked fingers kept the pages of his book crisp with each turn of a page. His soul called to her and she saw nothing and thought nothing while breathing in the vitality of his cosmic waves. The soul was penetrated at the divine moment where existence and fear teamed up on two vulnerable hearts, and both were susceptible and submissive. The man looked up from his book, their eyes met, and nothing mattered more to her after that. What matters most means nothing at all when living a regularly unconscious life. For once she had seen love, even if it was never spoken or practiced she finally found something that was enough for her to stop. The pain she felt when he saw her bruises and arms of black holes was enough for her soul to become lonely once again. His soul left hers and she felt as empty as she did the day she was born, naked and afraid and unable to feel without the milk of her nurturer. To that plastic bag one last time and without a prayer her soul was set free without him.



As lost and empty from this world to the next her suffering seized. She did not know her heart was then harvested to be given to a woman who had never felt another soul. A woman fully conscious but unaware of the power of a strong heart, the power of love, and how a tragedy would transform her. The parents of the lost signed the consent, their daughter gone and with her went all chaos. They never knew her heart and how broken it had become. Finally, a night’s sleep without anticipating this call for the two grieving parents. For this woman it is a night she will stay awake because her prayers had been answered. Spending the next few hours with her own heart before the story of a brokenhearted girl saves her. The young girl is laid to rest, back to the earth she is rooted, and the candlelight vigils only a glimpse of her pain for years to come.

Her ______________________________________________________________

The morning came, the moment she had waited for since she walked into the hospital two years earlier. Another young woman full of life, vibrant ambition, and unfulfilled dreams but there was one problem, a heart misshaped and failing. Her future uncertain since the night she woke from her involuntary unconscious in a hospital bed. There was no room for recovery and to leave the hospital meant the promise of brain death, sooner rather than later. A woman who had never felt another soul would be on the fast lane to die, disconnected from any roots, and disconnected from a heart she had never truly felt. Her heart explained in countless diagrams in the anatomy dance through illustrations that meant life or death despite a brilliant mind. She was always astonished that the key to heaven could be illustrated using anatomy coloring books, fill in the blank study guides, and virtual tours through the aortas online. The blood traveling in and out like rafts down a river to only fuel all of existence of a soul, her soul. Once existence is put into the form of words or pictures, whether it be reality or animation, brain death begins. From the lonely young woman with the plastic bag, to the woman in the hospital bed, words and pictures started their brain death. One poisoned with irreversible words and pictures in her mind that turned into nightmares. Each day she lived the nightmare until one day she didn’t, and her condition was certifiable. Now, the young woman who laid in a hospital bed, being told of her limited existence based off words and diagrams was going to be given a chance. She lived her own nightmares too, just monitored on a screen usually undetected by the nursing staff. Her heart was failing, takotsubo, but every word and illustration of her anatomical bomb only confirmed her brain death though still uncertifiable. Her existence something only the heart could harbor, and the penetration of a soul the only thing vital though intangible in this world.

As she laid down on the cold metal table making her way to the operating room she felt a cold wisp of air blow across her face. The air seemed more alive than she in the next twenty-four hours making her think again what it meant to be alive. In the next day she would be unplugged from her most vital organ and mechanically operated, shocked, and paced. In her mind she could only see a tree standing tall then falling to the ground with its stump surviving without its trunk. The roots deep and vital but with no limbs and leaves there is no fruit and without this life slowly comes to an end for the stump. She wondered if the tree felt any pain considering it was a living thing such as herself. When the roots do not die the stump becomes an inconvenience and then poisoned by man. Any process of life to death must be painful but how is the sentience of a tree measured? Interestingly, without her knowing it her new heart was from someone who had been disconnected from her trunk and was left a stump. Unable to recover and with roots too deep and vital her own existence became a nuisance. The absence of her mind, limbs, or fruitful stems left a lingering and suffering stump. Who is to say the pain of this wasted life is any different from the tree that was chopped down and left aborted? With no other way out, she poisoned her roots to end it all. On the cold metal table, she wonders if she will be another stump with no life preserve after they saw open her trunk. Her roots deep and preserved for the last two years but with no viability past a PICC line. With no proof of sentience set aside she laid there and thought of that tree as her eyes closed and her vitality uprooted. In another host, the soul of the heartbroken girl will survive. The lonely woman will meet a stranger one day who will illuminate her heart and give her the gift of the strong roots of love. The heart of the lost will meet him again.



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