‘You’ll regret this.’
The words rang through his mind, over and over. Overlapping—weaving together into a complex tapestry of blackened reflections and rage-inducing emotions. The cover was so thick and impenetrable that whoever the person he was before would forever be hidden—cowering in the darkness of his psyche. The man that sat in the waiting room was broken beyond comprehension.
‘… will be peaceful. Once we remove the life support, he’ll pass. There won’t be any pain—is heart will simply stop beating.’
The words faded back into Corey’s focus.
‘You want me to kill him.’
The words were said with a finality that gave the doctor pause. Corey felt the blanket on his mind shift slightly—as if something inside was trying to get out. He pushed the emotion further down, hearing a faint ringing through his ears. The doctor continued, his speech muffled.
‘The injuries he sustained were too great for him. His body made it through, but his mind is empty. We have no reason to hope he will wake up from this. The only reason he is alive right now is because of the life support that he’s on.’
‘Can’t we have more time?’ His voice broke on the words, a small rip appearing in the tapestry. His nails dug into the soft flesh of his thigh, filling in the small space of his psyche, trapping himself once more.
‘We can give you a little more time to think about it. But I do want to stress upon you how much more difficult it will be for you by waiting. His vitals aren’t improving, and it’s been over a week since his admission. If he were going to recover, he would have done so.’ There was a pregnant pause, in which the doctor studied Corey. He was looking down to the ground, so tense and guarded as he sat.
‘Like I said, we can give you a little more time to process. To say goodbye. We’ll come back to check in on you in a few hours. You can go and see him.’
The doctor turned and walked out, pausing at the door to look back. Corey sat, motionless and unseeing.
After a while, he took a deep breath and stood, walking out the door. He passed the nurse’s station, looking at the weary faces that sat behind the desk. He looked into the rooms as he passed, seeing some empty beds, seeing other crying families, laughing children. He was a ghost—invisible to everyone around him. None of them cared about what he was going through. Everyone in that hospital had someone to be there for. Had problems of their own. They had no room for compassion for a stranger’s pain.
He turned into his brother’s room. He sat on the chair just inside the doorway, unwilling as of yet to approach the bed. The room hadn’t changed. The walls, the window, the floor. Everywhere he went, it was all the same. His eyes circled the layout of the room, coming to rest on the sleeping figure in the middle. The faint and steady beeping of the machine he was hooked up to had a strangely calming effect on Corey. He sat there for longer still. The beeping of the machine had him dozing off after an hour.
An alarm going off somewhere close by woke Corey with a start. He looked at his brother, seeing that absolutely nothing had changed. Nurses were running past the door, some wheeling an odd machine. It was someone in one of the adjoining rooms that was dying. Not Mark. Not yet.
He stood up, stretching his legs. He approached Mark, finally looking at his face. He could have been sleeping. It was such a ridiculous notion that it almost made Corey laugh. Such a stupid thought. Of course he could have been sleeping. That’s what it was, really. He was sleeping, and it was just a sleep he had no chance of waking up from.
‘You’ll regret this.’ The words flashed through his head again, the memory shaking him to his core. That was the last thing he’d said. Those were the last words he had spoken to his brother, before his accident. The tapestry woven was starting to unwind. You’ll regret this.
He took Mark’s hand in his own, squeezing it. The warmth enveloped his hand. He could feel his brother’s pulse through his wrist. He was alive. He was right there, alive, breathing. Sleeping. The fabric ripped itself open, his emotions flinging themselves across the inside of his mind. His heart hurt and his mind was shattered as he sobbed into his brother’s side, kneeling on the ground next to his bed. His body shuddered and convulsed with the strength of his emotion. His rage, his sorrow. His agony. They melded themselves together, swirling and growing, constricting his heart and his lungs. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move.
People passed by, some glancing in with sympathy. The nurses gave him space to grieve. He was there, crying, for over an hour. By the time he had stopped, his throat was raw and his head was pounding. This had been the first time he’d allowed himself to think about his brother in this way—to cry, to acknowledge that his brother wasn’t here anymore.
It was time. He could sit here forever, refuse to acknowledge the doctor’s thoughts and hope for a miracle. Or, he could face the difficult truth of the matter, and let his brother go. He stood and walked out to the nurse’s station, asking to speak with his brother’s doctor. He watched as the doctor walked down the hallway, approaching him. With each step the doctor took, one thought repeated through his mind.
You’ll regret this.