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It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be at the prom. Instead, I lay motionless in a hospital bed. My mom and Doctor Jay gazed at me through the glass in confusion.
A week earlier, I was anxious awaiting prom. I’d already purchased my blue and green dress, the one that brought out my eyes- one blue and one green. I planned to drive to prom with a few friends. Cameron, my boyfriend, was going to meet me at my house for pictures, then we would leave.
The night of prom finally came. I ran around all day trying to get ready. I was putting the last touches on my hair when the doorbell rang. My mom called me as I raced down the stairs, being careful not to trip on my dress. The look on Cameron’s face was unforgettable when he saw me- I could see the adoration in his eyes. My mom grabbed the camera and forced us into a pose, snapping two, three, four pictures of us before she was finished. Then my other friends- Emily, Brandon, Ryan, and Lexa- hesitantly entered the house. However, they had no chance at escaping the wrath of my mom. We were forced once more into a pose before driving away in the white limo.
“Bye, Kelli!” I heard my mom yell as we drove away, “Have a great time at prom!”
Kelli’s mom, Mrs. Darwin, buried her face in her hands. Life support was the only thing keeping her daughter alive. The last happy memory she had of Kelli was when she got into the car to go to prom. Now she clenched Kelli’s hand in hers, wondering if she would live or die. Kelli thought about that fateful night, the one that had changed her life forever.
Sometimes I remember what happened, and other times I don’t. It’s like I’m alive but nobody can hear me, and some things are just blurry. The one thing I can’t forget is lying in the ambulance with Cameron by my side, and he told me that everything would be okay. We were all in the car having a great time when it happened.
I mostly remember how excited I was. After all that time, the big day had slowly come. Once I escaped from my mom and her camera, I got into the limo with Cameron, Emily, Brandon, Ryan, and Lexa (my other friends). Cameron was driving and I sat in the front seat next to him. We’d borrowed the limo from a friend of Cameron’s dad’s, but a driver would’ve cost us. Cameron figured it would be easier if he just drove instead. It didn’t matter to me, I was just thrilled at the idea of my first ride in a limo. I reached for the radio knob and turned the volume up. Soon we were all singing along to the music.
Kelli’s condition hadn’t improved in the last few hours, but it hadn’t worsened, either. She still lay motionless on the bed. Doctor Jay approached her once again to make sure her organs were still functioning and to test for any signs of movement. There were none. The first 24 hours were vital in determining if a patient would come out of a coma or not, and Doctor Jay knew that. If Kelli didn’t show any signs of brain activity in the next 21 hours, she’d probably be a vegetable for the rest of her life. Doctor Jay swallowed the lump in his throat. This was one of the hardest parts of the job: reporting back to the parents.
I don’t know how long I’ve been here, nor do I know how I ended up in this room. All I know is that I can’t move. Inside I’m screaming for help but no one can hear me. I might not be able to tell my mom that I love her or say goodbye to my friends, because no matter how hard I try I can’t move my mouth to form the words. It’s like I’m trapped inside my own body and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get out. Now, I’m stuck with my thoughts. Thoughts of prom, thoughts of what could’ve gone differently, thoughts of it all.
We were all singing along to the radio as Cameron got onto the interstate on our way to prom. It was getting darker outside-the sun had already set behind the Colorado mountains. Pinks, oranges, blues, and purples painted the sky a beautiful color. It was like an artist’s painting, but ten times more vivid when you see it with your own eyes. Everything had been so perfect. I was on my way to the night I’d anticipated for years, and now it was finally time.
“Mrs. Darwin?” Doctor Jay looked around the waiting room. “Mrs. Darwin?” he repeated, louder this time. The doctor scanned the array of worried faces until he found the one he was looking for. She stood alone in a corner, her normally striking green eyes red and puffy. Her worry stricken face seemed a thousand times older and sadder than it had just a few hours earlier. Then again, that’s what tragic accidents and comatose children can do to a parent.
“I have some news for you,” he said, walking up to her. “It’s about Kelli…you might want to sit down.”
This was never the life I wanted. It wasn’t part of the plan. I never thought this would happen to me. I used to believe everything happens for a reason, but now I’m not so sure. What’s the reason for this? Why did it happen? What good will ever come out of it? The answers to these questions are like reaching for a star: always a little out of reach but I have to keep trying.
Cameron focused on the road, a look of concentration spread across his face. In the back of the limo, Ryan was starting to get a little crazy. All of a sudden, Cameron turned around in his seat.
“Be quiet! I’m trying to drive!” he said. Ryan looked at him in utter disbelief, but then a look of fear came as he yelled, “Cameron, look out!”
However, Ryan didn’t say it quickly enough. Cameron lurched around in his seat, right in time to see the old jeep heading straight towards him.
Doctor Jay looked over at Mrs. Darwin. Her face remained expressionless as she watched her daughter, knowing that Kelli would probably never come out of the coma. It had been 23 hours since the accident, and Kelli had been unresponsive. There was little hope that Kelli would ever make up, as Doctor Jay had explained to Mrs. Darwin just a few minutes earlier. Together they watched Kelli in a grim silence, both wishing it didn’t have to be this way.
"Pull the plug." Mrs. Darwin said, her voice cold.
"Are you sure about this? It's a big decision..." Doctor Jay replied.
"I'm sure. She wouldn't have wanted this life."
Mrs. Dawin grasped Kelli's hand in hers. She looked at her daughter, hooked up to all those machines, and knew she was making the right decision. Tears filled her eyes as she watched Doctor Jay unhook Kelli from the life support. Then it was done.
The funeral was filled with grief. Kelli's mom spoke of her bravery and kindness, and everyone thought about what a nice girl Kelli had been. Long after the funeral was over, Cameron stood at Kelli's grave. He held yellow daisies in his hand, because those had been Kelli's favorite flowers. He set them down on her grave, and fought back the tears.
"I love you," he whispered. Somehow, he knew that Kelli heard him.
Ithaca, New York
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"You take what you can get"
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Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, it is not yet the end.