As you may have noticed the news is pretty damn boring this week, so rather than my usual rant about something regarding current affair, I thought I’d try something a little different.
I have on occasion posted some creative writing of mine to this blog. I’ve always really enjoyed writing, but I’ve not really had the time to pursue my interests further. In light of that I decided that it would be fun and interesting to write some short stories and post them here. My problem in this regard is that I tend to set my sights too high, I want to write long books with detailed and complicated plots. I want to create original and complex characters. I want to do things that I can’t really do in the time I have available to me with my current busy life. I need to limit the scope of my writing in order to get any real satisfaction out of it, rather than having dozens of unfinished projects and interesting ideas that never get to become more than ideas. So I have decided to try to do a series of writing exercises from the internet designed to improve your writing skills and pose a challenge that I should be able to finish, rather then leave as a loose end.
With this in mind, my first challenge:
The Coma: Write from the point of view of a person in a coma. This is a permanent condition; the patient will not come out of the coma but still understands the outer world. The catch: voices of loved ones are familiar, even intimately familiar, but the comatose person cannot attach names to the voices. The coma patient has lost this capacity. (500 words – I’m taking this is a rough guide, not a strict limit, in fact the story below is 521 words long)
“Will he ever wake up doctor?” It was a man’s voice, confident, yet betraying hints of weariness. I recognised the voice, but I did not know where from.
“I sincerely doubt it.” I assumed that this voice was the doctor. It sounded youthful, yet irritatingly formal. Although the only sense left to me was my hearing, I could tell that the room was crackling with tension. “I’m sorry.” His tone was professional; he could think if nothing else to say.
There was a pause. I thought I heard the sound of weeping and gentle comforting, but it was too quite for me to pick up clearly. The whirr of the medical equipment dominated my hearing, making it hard to tell what else was going on.
“How long, doctor,” the first man spoke again. The familiarity of his voice nagged at me. “Until…” he could not get the words out. “Until he passes away?”
“His position is stable.” Again the tone was overly formal, unsympathetic. I wondered how long ago the doctor had been a mere student in medical school. “There is no reason to say that his life may go on… indefinitely.”
“So he could remain like this forever?” there was an incredulousness in his voice. I wondered exactly who this man was, and why I could remember his voice.
“As long as we continue to sustain him, in theory, yes.”
“And if we don’t ‘continue to sustain him’?”
“Then he will die.”
“So he is to spend the rest of his life attached to a machine, with tubes stuck down his throat to feed him?” he was getting agitated. “You see, Penelope, what kind of existence is that?” I decided that Penelope was the person who I thought I heard crying before.
“John, he’s your brother! How can you talk like that?” The new voice was obviously Penelope’s. She sounded distraught, her voice close to breaking. She had been crying.
“I’m just saying that it’s not much of an existence. That body, that empty, functionless shell is not the man you once loved.” His words made me angry; the realisation that I could do nothing about it only fuelled my rage.
Clearly his words had had the same effect on Penelope. “I can’t believe you could say that! How do you know that he’s not still alive in there? How do you know he can’t hear us?” her voice was tight with barely disguised tears.
“Doctor, can he hear us?” I willed desperately to say something, to do something to indicate that I could here them. My comatose body could do nothing but listen, powerless to contribute.
“As far as we are aware his mind has all but closed down completely, I doubt if he can even think, let alone hear anything.” I wanted to scream.
“You see Penelope; he’s nothing but a body. He’s an empty shell, a body, nothing more. Not the man you married anymore.”
I heard a door slam.
“I think we should consider turning off the life support machines. There’s no sense prolonging a life so devoid of meaning.” I screamed. And no one heard.