November 11, 2008
When I was a little girl, my parents used to tell me all kinds of fairy tales. In most of them, there was always a damsel in distress, an unwanted admirer, and a prince, whose only goal in his entire life was to rescue his princess and ride off into a happily ever after.
Sometimes my mother would tell me the stories. Sometimes, my father. However, the tales always ended the same.
The prince would rescue the princess from her treacheries and with his journey toward her, he would discover an undeniable truth about himself.
He would discover the lengths to which he’d go for his woman. He’d track her down and, if necessary, would strike down all who’d opposed him, challenged him, or dared to step foot in his way. The hindrance of his journey was the very same sin that he could not bring himself to forgive.
They’d tell me these stories and I’d be off to bed—wistfully wondering when my own “prince charming” would come for me. No matter how many years had passed, how old I’d gotten or how much I’d experienced—I kept hope that my prince would come and find me. In that hope, I met my own worst enemy.
Fairytales don’t do well for pubescent teens or young adults who’ve discovered their own significance. I quickly learned that, though there was no actual Prince Charming (how silly I was to believe it). However, in place of that disappointment, I put whomever I thought could fit the bill most closely. It’s led to some mistakes.
For most of my life, I’ve wandered this earth believing myself to be a princess—or at the very least, a modern-day version—like a Kardashian or a Hilton. For all that time that I’d spent in delusion, my ego grew alongside my impatience.
That all stopped when I met you.
When I’m with you, I feel my entire sense of being melt away. It leaves nothing behind but the beating heart that I’ve refused you so many times. The pulse of a mad woman—in a desperate search for something that she already has.
I know how you feel about me. I’m writing you now, because I feel the same. You helped me realize that I don’t need a white horse and carriage (though, it’d be nice). I don’t want the stuck-up metro-sexual that all the movies tell us that we need. I don’t want the air-headed jock.
I want you, Brenton. I want your laugh. Your smile. Your studious gaze. I want my best friend back. I’m sorry that it took so long for me to realize just how badly I’d needed you.
I don’t know how else to apologize to you for everything that’s happened. I don’t know whether or not you even want to see me again. I hope that you do, but I understand if you don’t.
I’ll leave my information with the hospital. If you’d like me to come by, all you have to do is say the word and I’m there.
If not, then don’t say anything.
Please say something.
* * *
It was dark. The last words that he could remember saying were the same as they’d been the previous day. They’d been the same for the better part of a week.
“Please stop!” The words echoed in his mind like the constant harangue of his campus clock tower. “Stop!” he screamed. “Please stop!”
Fluttering his eyes open, a picture began to form after the sheet of blinding light had nearly seared them shut once more. The haze of colors and invisible lines waded as a woman’s voice responded to his cries.
“Relax, baby. It’s okay. I promise...You’re safe.” A maze of brunette curls dangled in front of her face as she leaned in to be seen. “Another nightmare?”
He hadn’t the breadth of vocabulary to answer. Not yet. That would come as the conversation continued. Committing to his silence, he pat his hands against the mattress—an attempt to remember anything. This time, he’d retrieved an envelope that he couldn’t even begin to decipher.
“What’s this?” Brenton Fox asked as he awoke from his Xanax induced coma. His wounds were severe—necessitating several surgical procedures, gallons of medication, and more patience than either of his parents had been willing to spare.
“It's a letter, honey. From one of your classmates...” Ms. Fox said, hoping to God that her husband wouldn’t yell at the doctors upon their next arrival. “Isn’t that nice?”
Her smile was cold and clawed its way up her cheeks as the wrinkles in her forehead deepened and strained to remain steady. The room was unfamiliar though, at a glance, it looked to be his.
The guest chairs were neatly aligned and shrouded in his clothing. A book bag swung from the rim of the bed—his favorite color and material. He’d even known the pair in the room as “mom” and “dad,” though he couldn’t quite grasp a memory of them.
It wasn’t long before the hospital bed and oximeter attached to his index finger gave it away.
“Am I sick?” Brenton asked as the beeping beside him grew faster. “What’s wrong with me?”
Holding back his urge to scream, Brenton fought to manage a single thought without it being met with the veritable brick wall of nothing. Absolutely nothing.
“What’s wrong with me!” he said again, this time, loud enough to draw attention. He wasn’t quite sure it’s what he wanted. But, he didn’t know what else to do.
“Brenton, calm down!” The man known as “dad” barked in return as the doorknob to his hospital room began to hop and jump despite the lock. “Look what you’ve done.” The balding man (who looked like him) continued as he stormed to the wooden door and turned the lock,
“Is everything alright in here?"
This man was wearing a white coat and looked to know a thing or two about the situation. He was silver haired but facially young—for an instant, Brenton’s heartbeat calmed.
“Everything’s fine,” Mr. Fox urged. “There’s no need for intervention here.”
“Well,” The doctor continued, “...why don’t I have a look?”
He walked in like the hospital had been named after him—with the kind of smile that comes with a fat check and streak of narcissism. Brenton hated him already. “How are you feeling, kiddo?”
How else was he to answer?
“Well...” The doctor shuddered, almost as if Brenton’s tone had embarrassed him. “...there aren’t many other ways to feel when you’ve had both of your legs broken.”
“Relax...You’ll walk again. Hell, at your age, you’ll be running marathons by next summer.”
The feeling was like showing up late, to your own funeral, and still having nothing to say. All at once, the reality of Brenton’s life flashed before his eyes in one fell swoop. From his birth to that very moment in bed.
“Mom...” Brenton squealed as he looked down at his shattered bones and then to her. “Can we go home? Please.”
Suddenly, her wrinkles had looked even more miserable. “We would Brenton but...”
“I’ll explain, Ms. Fox,” the doctor intervened. “Wouldn’t want to confuse him.”
“Yes,” Ms. Fox submitted.
Fuck this guy, Brenton thought.
“You see Brenton, there was an accident a few days ago...”
“It was no fucking accident!” Mr. Fox barked.
“This man’s a god damn crook!”
“He’s trying to help our son!”
“...Anyway,” the silver haired man continued—now at a whisper. “When you came to us your bones were all but dust. You’d had several lacerations along the length of your back and parts of your face. Whatever happened, you’re lucky to be alive.”
The doctor dropped his head down to a clipboard that seemed to be attached to his forearm. The doctor continued. “I must warn you, this will be a process. But, with the right attitude and a little effort, you’ll get through this.”
“What he needs is to find that son of a bitch who did this to him.”
A cough. “Mr. Fox, what your son needs is rest and full support from his family and friends.”
“I... I” Brenton stuttered. “I don’t think I have any.”
“Nonsense,” Ms. Fox intervened. “Someone was nice enough to writer you a letter. Now-a-days that must mean you’re pretty special to someone.”
“I can’t see it,” Brenton answered, holding the envelope close to his face. He’d only been able to make out the letter “V.”
“It’s all blurry,” he continued.
“Your son’s vision should return to normal in a few weeks,” The doctor interrupted. “What he needs now, is your full support.”
“And what he doesn’t need,” Mr. Fox sniped, “...is any contact with that freaking girl. She’s done enough damage as it is.”
In the same breath as his repulsion, Mr. Fox knabbed the envelope from between Brenton’s fingers. “You’re better without her,” and proceeded to shred the last bit of evidence that Brenton had to his life prior to that afternoon.
The following day, the ripping sound would echo in his mind, alongside the same two words.
It all felt like a bad dream.