There is a good chance that I am seeing things. I know this, because I earlier heard the nurses discuss the astonishing amount of morphine that passes into my arm on an hourly basis. Between this and the surprising amount of pain I still feel, it is highly likely that I am not in my right mind.
Therefore, I am willing to not panic at the presence of a person, sitting on a green plastic chair beside my bed, one leg crossed casually over the other, who is naked and who appears to be made of golden radiance. And who has also noticed that I am looking at… I’ll go with ‘him’ for convenience.
“I’m glad to see you’re up,” he says.
“Flat on my back,” I say, although my mouth is dry as a terracotta bowl.
“A figure of speech,” he says, smiling. “You’re awake! How wonderful!”
“Don’t want to be contrary,” I reply, “but I have some reason to believe I’m unconscious.”
“That’s understandable. You are high as a kite, after all.” He puts both feet on the floor and leans in, elbows on knees. “I doubt you’d see your guardian angel, otherwise.”
“Huh.” I digest that for a moment. “You know I’m not Christian, right?”
He nods. “Another figure of speech– ‘guardian angel’ is just a handy label, given the culture you grew up in. Saves a lot explanation that frankly you’re unlikely to remember.”
“All right.” I lie there for a while, pain and drugs waltzing each other through me, and he says nothing. Finally, I say, “Here to apologize, then?”
He rears back, a look of shocked surprise on his shining, perfect features. He recovers somewhat, but is still a pre-Raphaelite picture of mild confusion. “What for?”
I nod toward the cast on the leg which still goes all the way down, and by implication at the absence of anything below mid-thigh on the other side. Glancing back, I see that he’s still looking a little nonplussed so I give another tilt of my head to the complexity of dressings covering my arm on the non-leg side. There must be something more than morphine in my drip, because I find I’m not absolutely horrified by the state I’m in.
“Oh,” he says, realization dawning– a very literal phrase with that complexion– then, “Oh! Oh, no, no. No, I had nothing to do with that. That was all random chance.”
Now it’s my turn to pull a face. I go with dubious.
“Cast your mind back to the accident,” he says, and he somehow manages to not sound condescending. “Was there anyone else at the controls?”
“Not that I saw.”
“I was keeping an eye on things. You could have gone in face-first instead of feet. As it happened, though…” He holds up his hands in a there you go gesture. I don’t change my expression.
“I’m not sure this really counts as a miraculous escape,” I say.
“I didn’t even have to work at arranging someone to find you basically the second it happened.” He is smiling, the very image of contentment. “Even better, someone who isn’t given to panic, who doesn’t faint at the sight of… all that.” He waves a hand at me. “I was just a bystander. It was your lucky day.”
“Lucky to be alive, huh?” He nods. I let dubious slip a little, but it’s still there when I say, “I can’t help but think of the phrase ‘better off dead’ when I consider my future.”
He frowns at this. “That’s a rather able-ist thing to say. I’ll put it down to the drugs.”
“Seriously, though– I’ve clearly got years and years of physical therapy…”
“And also counselling.”
“Yes, that, too. That’s still better than… head-first, all over before I really knew what hit me?”
He just stares at me for a few seconds. I did not think it was possible for a face like that to look so shifty, but when he starts to talk, he looks away, evasive. “Not something I can really go into.”
“You don’t know.”
“Please. I’m not going to stumble into revelations because a human who is full of drugs and agony is cleverer than I am.” He smiles, shaking his head, filling the room with sparkles like a better kind of disco ball.
“Fine.” I let my head drop back, the hard-starched pillowcase supporting it more than the over-soft pillow. “So you’re not here to apologize. Why are you here, then?”
He stands up, moving closer to the bed. As he does, the door opens, and a young woman in green scrubs enters. She see me looking at her and says, “Are you with us?”
“Dunno,” I say, and suddenly my mouth knows it is dry again, hardly working. “Who’s us?”
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she says. “You’ve had an accident, and you’re in the hospital.”
“Got it.” I trail my eyes toward the angel, who has a platonic ideal Cheshire cat grin on. “Hurts.”
“I’m sure it does.” She moves around to the side of the bed where I have the original number of limbs, and fiddles with the machine delivering my drugs, hardly looking at it as she writes a note on a clipboard. The angel reaches out and carefully slides the IV needle free of its place in the back of my hand.
“Hey,” I said, the word slurring, nothing like as sharp as I wanted it. The nurse looks over, sees the needle hanging loose.
“Aw, man,” she says, a hand reaching for it, then, “No, let’s stop this thing first… oh, shit.” Her gaze darts from machine to me to needle, eyes wide. She’s frozen for a moment. Then she pokes the machine, breathing a relieved sigh, and goes to work getting my tube reconnected.
“Yeah,” said the angel, his radiance fading as he becomes indistinct. “Way too much.” He bent and laid a warm, dry kiss on my forehead. “Lucky I was here, eh?”