My Samhain Tale

by Shawn Phillips



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(...this is a true story...)

Everyone has funks. Sometimes they're caused by personal issues with yourself. Sometimes it's chemical imbalances. And sometimes it's a chain of disheartening events. For me, it could be all of the above. I have never been sure.

My girlfriend broke up with me the previous weekend. We had had a minor conflict the week before that. Not a fight, but a point where the relationship became stressed due to each others imperfections. Well, shortly after that, I thought we were on the way up again. Then she dropped it on me. Dating other people. I'll spare the grisly details in exchange for even more description to wince by.

A work week passes. A close friend spends time with me to help me through the initial feelings of detachment. A movie is chosen to see. Doesn't cost us money, since her brother works there, and they all know who she is. Her being perpetually stuck on crutches doesn't hurt either. Another long side story.

The movie, good. I laughed. Laughter, of course, is the best medicine. I was down, but not nearly as mopey. I take her home with plans for musical instrument window shopping for the next day.

Home. A party has already commenced in my absence. I don't need to mention that only one person there was old enough to drink/buy alcohol. Seems okay. Mildly irritated at the situation, but that's what happens when you have roommates. At least the cigarette smoking was kept outside.

Yeah, there was other smoking going on, I found out later. The bedroom to my sister's room is mysteriously kept closed, despite the number of people that are in there. Her boyfriend just now shows up, drunk, of course. And wondering why all the people are here. He makes his way into the bedroom after some difficulty. I don't think much of it, since they like to go in there for usage of bongs.

After a brief point, I decide to find out what is behind the bedroom door. It won't open, because my sister is on the floor on the other side. I finally get in, and only her boyfriend and her are left, and she is having a spasm attack in her back. I'm familiar with this. My sister and I were in a car accident back in 1995. Rollover for several hundred feet on a road that has never had any survivors. We walked 15 miles into town, with tattered and blood stained shirts. Through my insurance, we would have been able to get medical care paid for. I got mine, but our mother never took her in to get hers. So now she suffers from that with attacks. And I end up being the only one who can help alleviate the pain some.

Only this time it wasn't just the attacks. She starts acting very crazy. Her breathing erratic, eyes rolling, then wide open. Her red dreadlocks strewn about under her head while she lies in a space of about four feet in between the door and the bed. Aaron, her boyfriend, is there, trying to comfort her, feeling horribly helpless, again.

Suddenly she stands upright, directly from a lying position, without sitting up or turning over. Adrenal rush? I think it was more than that. She pulls Aaron and me together into a fierce hug, faces mashed together, telling him through forced breath how much she loves him, and telling me how I've been more of a father than any of the others. Then she collapses, muttering how she can't get her back to go into place. She doesn't hear us talk at all. I tell someone to call the ambulance. This is worse than her usual spasms.

The ambulance and medics come. Asking questions I don't know. Questions I have to ask the others who were partying. What did she drink? What did she smoke? What pills? All the while, she's muttering and screaming at the paramedics to fuck off, and that all she needs to do is to crack her back. I continue to rebuke her, and encourage her to cooperate.

After what seemed like a half hour, she is put in the ambulance. I take Aaron and a concerned friend, who suggested the ambulance in the first place before I got there, and she hit him in the face. We beat the ambulance there, a mere fifteen blocks away. Common sense tells me to go to the emergency entrance. But the concerned friend insists that we go to the main entrance, which takes us through the long way to the emergency room.

I sign the papers that make me responsible for the medical bills in case she can't pay for them, and wait until she gets in place for those on duty attempt to stabilize her. After creeping minutes pass, I am allowed through. Aaron and the friend are left behind to wait. Hospital rules.

What I witnessed was Death sticking his fingers in her heart and lungs. She would lapse from her onslaught of fuck-yous and assholes to a comatose state, her oxygen saturation levels dropping below what's safe. The medical staff in the ER (I don't know what to call them, and I really don't think it matters) and I are yelling at her and shaking her to breathe. And then after the levels dropped more, she gasps, and moans, and fights even more.

Finally, one of the doctors puts a plastic tube in a nostril, which unfortunately cuts. But at least it makes sure she can breathe. A rise in her onslaught of curses begins, more mangled fuck yous and assholes and kicking while she exhales out her nose to try to remove the tube. When she does this, gobs of blood and snot fly out, in my general direction. Breaking up the violent expressions, she drops into a non-breathing state, leading to more yelling and slapping about the face. We cleaned her face of the glistening blood she expelled, and she cursed us more, and more thick red rivers launch into the air. I yell at her to cooperate, that the damn tube is keeping her alive.

During all this, I discover later that her boyfriend, drunk, and distressed at her screaming jumps over the receptionist's desk and tries to find what room we were in. No one would tell him what was going on. Security chases him out. I make phone calls and find out what she had taken. There is a part of me that wants to slap her out of disappointment, an open-palmed slap hard enough for her to feel it for the whole month, and for it to sting my hand for a week. And part of me wants to die. I am given yet another burden I alone have to bear, and I have no one to be with me, even as I sit there when she finally stabilizes. Unconscious and breathing normally. Her blood is on my hands, eyeglasses, the curtains, and floor.

Almost three hours after arriving at the hospital, she is finally moved to the Intensive Care Unit, to watch her heart and breathing. I am sent home to sleep, only to find more stupidity. I am very close to snapping. The last time I felt like this was when my mother and I engaged in a shouting and shoving match. An upright mirror was broken that night. I send people home. And I wash the blood, my sister's blood, from me.


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