Column: Just one more breath


Photo courtesy of band

Elise Guerra sitting in the bleachers during band rehearsal.

Elise Guerra, Feature Editor

Perfect serenity on the outside. Chaos on the inside. 

I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what I can say. I’m begging for everyone to just listen to me.

My eyes are rolling back and slamming shut, my mind is racing me, chuckling hysterically and letting me know that I’m no longer in control.

“Ma’am, are you hurt?”

Weighted to the glossy paste-colored floor, screaming but the words just won’t come out. I’m blinded but I feel the presence of crowds pacing around me. I sense the rivers streaming down bare skin and hearts bouncing up and down in fear. I’m fighting against myself, trying to move a finger or even take a single, solid breath.

I feel delicate hands dance on my chest and finally settle on two spots on my rib cage. Those delicate hands turn into knives and jab themselves into the crevice between my bones, making the same rivers begin to stream down my own bare and pale skin.

“Ma’am, what’s hurting?”

Stop, just stop! 

“Why are you crying?  Ma’am, we need you to answer us or we’re taking you in.”

 I can’t answer you, you idiots!

Nothing in the English dictionary would ever come out, the only things that were audible were the piercing fears of not being able to move or speak.

I felt large hands grasp me by the biceps and knees on both sides, setting me down onto something harder than the tiled floor, and my body becomes constricted by belts that wrapped around at 180 degrees.

“What’s your name? … Can you tell us what your name is? …” 

Still, my voice just stripped from me. 

I sat in the bed of the striped roaring vehicle with my vein punctured open with bags of fluids flowing through my system. The vehicle came to a slamming halt and the doors were thrown open in front of me.

“They’re going to be taking you into the ER, Elise. If you wanted to lay down, you could’ve just asked!” he chuckled. My band director used every comedic joke that he never learned just to lighten my mood and make sure that I wasn’t completely giving in to whatever was wrong.

“Are you able to stand?” I shook my head no, but only in the slightest manner. 

Those same large hands grasped me by the arms one more time and forced me to walk on the legs that wouldn’t work, on the mind that was too controlling and persistent about making me incapable of moving on my own.

My weighted body threw itself upon the baby blue mattress, not knowing whether I would be able to go back to my friends, my family. Tears slipping down my face as I felt paralyzed staring at the blank ceiling. Turning my head and staring at the digital clock above the bathroom door, watching the hours pass over… and over…and over again.

Wires glued all over my skin and bones, fluids pounding into my system, tests being run on me 27 times over, it never seemed like it would end. 

I slipped out of consciousness, and for 15 minutes I was finally at peace with my insides and my outsides. My body felt glued to the mattress, stiff and still, but at ease mentally. 

Bouncing back and forth, right and left, anxious maybe. Tapping his fingers on the chair and then on his phone. Falling asleep for just as long as I did, my band director remained. He clicks his phone and immediately shoots up. 

“I gotta go kiddo, I need to find a ride to the contest. Mrs. Schubert is heading over to take you to the hotel.” 

 The hours rolled over themselves and eventually I saw new faces start to come in. Wires were pinched away from me, wristbands were laced around my wrist, the needles removed and blood spilling, the tests were finally done. 

“You’re being discharged,” the nurse said.

A balance between my inside and outside, I was able to walk. Striding out of the hospital, my smile was growing past ear to ear. I was leaving this horrid place, I was finally going back. 

Nestled upon the yellow taxi’s window, I stared at the orange-tinted sunset and let my eyelashes fall closed one last time before we got to the hotel.