Parting Ways

She asked for some strong painkillers. The nurse said she couldn't give her any medication that wasn't listed on her file, but she would relay the message to the doctor. The resident doctor was very attentive and would surely stop by to see her. She should try to get some sleep. What about some tea?

Beatriz didn't even argue and didn't turn down the tea. However, what she actually needed was a sleeping pill that could knock her out. She only mentioned the painkillers because she'd have a better chance to get her wish granted. Not getting what she wanted, she zeroed in on her physical discomfort and expressed it by moaning fecklessly. That was just something to keep her mind preoccupied, so she could focus on the murmur leaving her dry lips and escape the only thought running through her head.

She was wide awake, like when she was a teenager in those spring-break mornings. Back then, she never needed an alarm clock and would get up ready for practice. Things were different now and that gap only made her more eager to run away. The wounds were burning and, between her moaning, his words would come back to her, mixed with the sterile smell of the sheets, making her stomach turn.

She strained her memory, trying to get her bearings, but she had lost track of how many days she had been in the hospital. She was aware of at least five sunsets. There had been many more since the afternoon they rescued her on the highway.

No nurse would clearly tell her how long it had been, not even the doctor, who interpreted the records on her file and the readings on the machines attached to her. She'd rather not ask any questions, but she was sure she couldn't move her legs again, because her whole body hurt inside and out, except for the lower limbs.

Her sister stopped by to visit her when she was awake. Maybe she had been there before, but Beatriz though it was highly unlikely. What about him? She couldn't believe he would be that cold and insist on not seeing her ever again. He had emphasized it―ever again―when the whole thing with Amanda went down. He had made up his mind and torn the certificate to shreds right in front of her. No, he had no guts to come and check her scars, nor did he have the strength to comfort her if she never walked again. But he would come and see her eventually. The wait, though, required more patience than usual.

Those contrived and depriving thoughts had barely formed in her mind when they were crumbled down by the yelling of the nurse rushing to her side. She was sobbing when they came to her aid. The sedative would assure that all surrounding patients would get some peace and quiet.

It looked like Beatriz was sleeping painlessly. That was how they found her during the next visit, when her sister finally convinced him to come and see her. At first, they thought it was for the best that she was still asleep. It would be easier to talk to the doctor without whispering to avoid disclosing any discouraging prognostics to the patient.

After the frank talk with the specialist, they took their time staring at her almost scarred face and all those machines that controlled the air coming in and out of her lungs. He was taken by remorse, while her sister felt some warm absence, almost a resignation. They didn't exchange a single word and looked at each other unable to mask how annoyed they were with the rhythm of her breathing―at last a peaceful breathing, like no other breath she had taken before the accident.

MAUREM KAYNA is from Rio Grande do Sul, a state in Southern Brazil. She was born in 1972, became a Forest Engineer in 1994, and has been passionate about books, words, and libraries ever since she can remember. 

In 2010, she published Pedaços de possibilidade [Pieces of Possibility], based on her blog by the same name. 

She also contributed to E-contos [E-short Stories], an eBook published as the result of a literary contest, as well as 101 que contam [101 Who Tell], a short story collection.