Medical Note: The condition known as a ‘minimally conscious state’ (MCS) is of recent (1990s) description and classification. It has some features in common with a comatose or ‘persistent vegetative state’ (PVS) – principally the need for the patient to be connected to a life-support system – but is characterised by evidence of a partial sleep-wake cycle and of some self- and environmental-awarenesses. Recovery rates without brain disability are significantly higher in MCS patients than for those with PVS, though mis-diagnosis often occurs. What follows is fiction.
This darkness inside comes and goes. I never see. I sometimes hear but I cannot speak. I sometimes feel but I cannot move. And the burden of consciousness when it comes offers no relief. I have my memories, up to but not including the accident, and sometimes they help me pass the time. But a cold terror always dismantles my musings and replaces them with an empty cocaine clarity.
In this world of no light, of muted sounds and smells, there is no night or day. I count the time in sleeps, though they don’t go far back and are always approximate. A few sleeps ago, I smelt burning candles and when my mother held my hand and talked to me, she said it was my anniversary. That’s like a birthday she said. I remember birthdays. They were pink and very early in the morning.
My man comes to me only when I’m sleeping and touches me first with a chaste kiss on the lips. I awake to the scent of musk on his neck. Quiet and considerate, he leaves my arms folded across my chest, spreads my legs but a little and knows how to make me ready, for which these days of course I need neither love nor attraction. I picture myself on a brightly-coloured bedspread in a candle-lit Bedouin tent, him a wild horseman dressed in flowing robes. When he enters me, he’s no longer a man but the embodiment of cock, of cosmic male energy. The sun rises shimmering red over my oasis as he rides off in a cloud of dust.
These moments remind me of that time with Mark when we ate some home-made sweets soaked in honey and hash. I couldn’t move a muscle and I let him in over and over like a female animal on heat does. And he took me like a human male can: languid, generous, in tune but masterful. Quite unlike our usual routines where I insisted on my fair share of the foreplays, the humpings and the climaxes.
“Hole.” It’s that bossy consultant again. She’s poking around inside me with those gloves that stick to my skin. I think I prefer my secret visitor’s attentions. “Some animal has reduced this poor child to nothing more than hole for his own gratification.” She’s using a speculum now. Obviously no sense of irony, this one.
“She’s hardly a child.” That’ll be the nurse. He’s nice.
“You know what I mean. She’s young and you can’t get more vulnerable than this. Rapist… Bastard…”
“We’ll get him. There can’t be that many men with a reason for being on this floor.”
“Run some DNAs before we call in the police and maybe move her into the four-bedder.”
“Her mother won’t like it. She pays for the privacy.”
“Does she know?”
“Tell her. Then see if you can get a camera put in while we wait for the results.”
He’s stopped coming. They say I’m pregnant. I hear them talking to mother. Termination? Caesarian?
Having a baby. Yes. That should bring me round.