The Kiss

Thursday, July 5, 2012 3:42 PM By crosswaysnet , In

The blurred light grew. The man felt his eyelid open slowly, tentatively. He was floating - on what he could not be sure. Something below and within stirred, expanding. A sound - a slow wind - sounded around him. 'Within' continued to rise. A soft click murmured and 'within' began to deflate. 

It's my body…

The man listened keenly to the sound of, what, exactly? Air - flowing from his lungs. It seemed to go on forever. Then, another soft click. 'Within' began to rise, again.

I'm alive… Why?

Why wouldn't you be?

Because, I…

The man searched for an answer. None came. And it didn't come ever… so… slowly. Each click echoed down a long tunnel to his mind's ear. Each moment rushed and lingered for an eternity at the same time.

Where am I?

The man tried to make his eye focus. It drifted in and out like a camera searching for a subject. Something else, bright and blurry, kept pulling his eye back to an indistinct wash of light. For a moment he caught the shape of something from which the light emanated: Sharp edges - contrast. He focused on closing his eye to block out the light. So he could… think. The slit slowly closed, yet something else still let in the light. It sent jagged shards of energy rattling around somewhere within. It caused a strange smell, like menthol and oranges. It changed to a sound like trashcan lids turning, then back into a brightness that bled into everything.

What is this thing? thought the man as the changeling light kept tormenting him. He knew his eye was closed. He concentrated, focusing harder than ever. He concentrated till something stopped - the wind.  Pressure building up 'within.' A sharp rumbling sound startled him. The wind resumed.

"Did he just cough? I'll get the doctor!"

The words assembled themselves in the man's mind like a mosaic or puzzle pieces with frayed edges. He understood them before they fully merged. He coughed again.

"Dad? Are you there?" 

Something seized a distant part of the man that he couldn't see. Warm… soft… firm… young. He drew a breath out of sync with the wind and the clicks. A percussion of sounds was out  of balance, incongruent. The man grew agitated. He coughed again.

"Hang on, Dad! Mom!"

A rush of sounds came near, shuffling, hurried, unsettling. The man began to panic. And with the panic, pain. Somewhere up above. The light streaming in grew angry, threatening. A firm object took hold of the man above his tightly scrunched eye.  And even sharper light blasted into him from somewhere, completely obscure. More pain. The harsh brightness entered his eye as his eyelid was pried open. An object came into focus as something inside the eye narrowed.

What is that?… A flashlight. What's a flashlight?

"He's reactive in the right eye. Nurse, the tape has come loose on his left. Can you get that please?"

A dull tugging off the margins of the man moved something and the painful light ceased. Mercifully. The man relaxed. The firm pressure on his forehead moved to replace the other somewhere below.

"Mark, can you hear me? If so, squeeze my fingers."

Who's 'Mark?'

He focused on the pressure below him. He fought to press back. He waited. The idea, the intent, floated somewhere beyond him and emerged around the firmness.

"Good, good, Mark. I'm Dr. Grantham. You're in the hospital. You've had a stroke..."

The voice continued before the words fully assembled. The man's buffer was running low.

Stroke. Mark. Hospital. A set of disturbing pictures tumbled from somewhere onto the back of the eyelid. A tool bench. A drill bearing down on a block of wood, a … table leg. Something falling away. The drill jumping askew and through something else. Something it was not supposed to touch. The color red. The floor approaching at an angle. A pile of sawdust at the base of shelves.

The memory of sounds chased the images. A whine. A judder. A voice - sweet voice. And the scream.

"Mark? Can you hear me?"

The voice. The sweet, sweet voice. 

Sweet as… Candy.

The man's breath jumped again, out of sync. The wind stuttered, he coughed.

"Doctor, can he feel this?"

"It's probably better on this side. Come around."

A shadow beyond the man's eyelid teased him to open it. An object crossed his view. He could not recognize it, but it was familiar at the bottom of his soul.


"Honey, I'm here." The pressure below changed again. A gentle warmth and places of contact. A… hand. 

I am Mark. This is… Candy.

Mark closed his eye to focus with all his might. He pressed back. It was the effort of moving heaven and earth. But he encircled it. He felt each finger squeeze. He held on for dear life. And breathed.

"Mark, I'm going to remove the breathing tube now. When your lungs are full, breathe out as hard as you can."

'Within' rose again. At the click, the doctor said "Now, Mark."

Mark pushed against the wind. Hard. A strange sensation of wet and pain sent something away. He coughed hard, twice. There was no wind. He began to panic. Then something he couldn't see switched on and the wind resumed, as he willed it.

"Are you OK, Mark?" 

The voice. That sweet, sweet voice. From… lips. Lips as sweet as… Candy.

He squeezed back hard. His lips moved. Candy drew close, her soft hair draping over his forehead. He closed his eye.

"Candy…" he whispered.

"Yes, Love, it's me." Without a second thought, she lowered her lips to his. He felt them on his, and somewhere beyond where he ended. Something wet fell around his eye.

"The Kiss…" he slurred.

"Yes, Love. That's a kiss." She remained above his lips.

"...still works."


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