(2019-01-27) Talking To Myself
Moved to a different room for an important set of tests, Calvin's coping skills hit a wall. Luckily, he receives visit from someone very special. A Vignette.
Players:
calvin..

"I am grateful today." I begin, speaking aloud to no one. Daily affirmations. Four days and it’s already come to this? Audible reminders that every day isn’t terrible and I should stop wishing I had died in that hallway.

*

"Stop. You’re being bleak." I pull my eyes off the ceiling and down to the foot of the bed. It's Dex and he’s just standing there, hands in his pockets and looking around the room. "Where’s Vic? I’d love to meet her."

*

"Oh, fuck off, Dex! You aren’t even real!" I reply, louder than intended. I mean, Dex is dead but he is also standing at the foot of my bed. He looks like I best remember him. Healthy. Slimmer than me. Freshly shaven with well coiffed hair. Did he always look younger than me? Or has two years changed me that much? Before I can get too deep in that line of thought, he interrupts me.

*

"Come on, Calvin. Lemme hear another." Dex encourages, pulling his hands out of his pockets. He leans on the foot of the bed now. "Another one. Go!"

*

"I am grateful…. I’m grateful for Vic, Wren, and the twins." And I mean it. They are the reason I’m glad I didn’t die. No one else.

*

"Twins, man." Dex says, shaking his head. "Are you scared? I’d be scared and I wanted kids." He whistles low. "I want them to be close, like us, you know? But…well, I’m haunting your imagination now so…" He’s moved again, dropping into the chair beside the bed. He looks around the room. "Did they separate you?"

*

"Why are you asking me these questions?" I roll my eyes as I realize I’m in a different room. A smaller, private room. When did I get moved? Why? It comes right back to me. "The exam. I asked if they would move me for this one." And I clam up because why in the hell am I talking to Dex like this? He's imaginary. He knows what I know.

And Dex just looks at me. This close, I can see his blue eyes staring back into mine. I know what he’s going to say and my stomach is already turning.

*

"One what? You have to say it. You have to get past this part. You can’t tiptoe around these words forever." The Dex of my imagination would bring up the 'Terminal Talk'. Word for word, Dex said this to me the night he called to tell me he was going to die. I refused to say 'diabetes' or 'blindness' or 'die' or any word having to do with death.

*

"Technically, I can’t tiptoe anymore…" I hit him with some snark to buy a few more moments of denial. But, Dex Shay knows my game.

*

"Say it." Dex levels with me. "You can be so weird about words. You give them all that extra fucking weight and meaning when—dude, you have to tell Vic the results! So, spit it out." Dex pauses and his expression softens. "Just practice with me. I’m Vic. What did the doctor say, Cal? What’s the prognosis?"

*

I glare at Dex and look at the ceiling again. Calling me Cal. I grew up preferring being called Calvin to a point of correcting people. Fame got me over that but it's like a trigger. A secret. My whole face is burning and I just let the tears go. I’ve been holding them back for days, for Vic’s sake. She’s got a hard road ahead too. She didn’t need me sobbing beside her. And sobbing is what I end up doing.

"I’m so fucking scared, Dex. So, so scared. How am I supposed to do this? How am I supposed to be a husband and a dad and fucking rock star from a wheelchair? Huh?" I’m speaking in Blubber but Dex and I understand one another.

*

"You start by saying it. You start by putting your fears out there. She wants to help, man. Let her or you will suffer needlessly. Now scoot. I know they taught you to scoot." Dex sits on the edge of the bed, waiting for me to give him space. Next thing I know, I’m on one side of the bed and Dex is beside me, laying on my chest with his ear over my heart.

Just like I held him when he died. When I listened to his breathing slow to nothing and his heartbeat come to a halt. I remember wishing mine would do the same then. Then and now. He’s quiet. He’s waiting for me to say it still but he won’t press. Hell, he might disappear and I’ll never be able to do this again.

"I’m…T-9, T-10. Incomplete injury. Grade B on the, uh, ASIA." I pause, shrugging a bit and Dex looks up at me with expectation. "I’m not done, Vic. All that means is…I can’t move but…sensation isn’t totally busted. When…" I pause to breathe. "Fuck, this is hard. When the swelling goes down, they will know more. But…right now…I’m a paraplegic. But…"

*

"Oh, a But? Christ, that almost sounds optimistic." Dex’s return snark makes me smile, which starts the waterworks. He shushes me with a gentle pat on the chest. "Sorry, finish up."

*

"But, my doctor says she’s seen people worse than me walk again so…I have to work really, really, really fucking hard because I have a chance." I exhale slowly and I feel better. Dex always had the answers to my hangups. To be fair, I had the answers to his too.

*

"Better out than in, Calvin." Dex is getting up and I nearly fall trying to stop him. Pure reflex. I know I can’t stop this figment from getting up. "If you have a boy, name him Dexter. You promised." He says, smoothing his shirt.

*

"I did and I will." I stare at Dex for a few more seconds. I’m afraid to blink. "Stay? Just a little while longer"

*

Dex shoves his hands back in his pockets and snorts. "Who says I leave?" He smirks. "One last thing: Wren? No more judgement, okay? You’re working on it and I am so proud of you, man. So proud."

*

I blink and he’s gone. Hell, the sun’s set now and I don’t know what happened. Did I dream him? Hallucinate? I’m back in our shared room again. I pull back the half drawn curtain to find Vic awake on the other side. How does this woman make eating jello look so fucking sexy?

"Hey, babe? So…we need to talk about that exam I had today. Now. Before I lose my will."

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