By Annie Cardi

Can we talk in the hall? It’s a little too much in here, don’t you think? All these flowers—who even sends them? Do you find it hard to think over the constant beeping? Isn’t it like a little hammer beating into your brain after a while? Is he going to be okay alone?

Is he as bad as he looks? Does he look worse than the other people in the ICU? Worse than anyone else you’ve seen? All the breaks and bruises on his face, are they going to heal? Will he look like he did before? Do you need me to bring in a picture? The most recent we have is from his junior prom, is that all right? God, why can’t I stop talking? There’s nothing to be nervous about, right? Will you please tell me I don’t have anything to be nervous about?

The tests? How long is he going to last? Days? Months? Years? Could he go at any second? What does that mean? Where is that? What about the rest of his brain? Is there anything there? What does that mean for the rest of his body? Can you just tell me straight? Will you use words I can understand?

What do you mean, there isn’t anything else? At all? Have you looked hard enough? Can you look again? Aren’t there other tests? These things change sometimes, right? You’ve seen miracles around here, right? How many of these patients walk out of here two weeks later? Haven’t you seen that before?

Now? Can’t we wait and see? Doesn’t he still have a little part of his brain? A little is all you need, right? It’s not like he used it a whole lot before, right?

Oh, God, why am I making jokes?

I never liked that he rode that bike, did you know that? I’d tell him he could get a better part-time job, maybe not kill himself to deliver goddamn packages, and he’d say, “What other job lets you fly like this?” Did he think he was flying when he got hit? Could you see that in the CAT scan? What did you see in there? Is it all broken? Are there parts that are still intact? His sense of smell? His first Christmas? Did you see me? Would he want me to do this?

Can he hear anything? Can he hear my voice out here?

Are you sure that’s just it? Isn’t there something still there? He’s still alive somewhere in there, right? Isn’t that what the beeping means? What do you mean, these machines are keeping him alive? What kind of machine can do that? Is there really a plug? Am I the one who does it?

Annie Cardi is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction at Emerson College, where she is also the Assistant Fiction Editor for Redivider. Her writing has recently been featured at Juked and is forthcoming at 21 Stars Review.