The amount of pain I felt, when I felt anything again, told me that I hadn’t died. It hurt to breathe; my chest was on fire and my throat felt as if I had swallowed a handful of cockleburs. My belly - my whole belly - felt like a Clydesdale had danced a jig in my navel. Everything else hurt too, but under that assault, it was all I was concerned about.
The first thing I tried to do was satisfy my need for air. I gasped, which hurt so much that I moaned, which hurt so much more that I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Someone must have done something because a few moments later, the pain subsided substantially. Everything still hurt, but the pain was thankfully a little further away and somehow, oddly smoother.
“Can you hear me?” said a voice in my ear.
I turned my head toward the sound and realized that there was a bandage over my eyes; they hurt too. I had to try three or four times before I could draw enough air into my lungs to utter one horse whisper. “Yeah,” I finally got out.
“Do you remember what happened to you?” he asked.
I tried nodding this time, but that hurt just as much as trying to breathe. I tried to lift my right hand but something was holding it down to the bed so I switched my effort to my left hand. It hurt to move anything, but not as much as trying to breathe, so with a little determination I pushed the blanket away a little and reached toward my face. Feeling the heavy padding over my swollen nose and across the rest of my face, I struggled to get out a few more words. “Am . . . I . . . blind?”
“We don’t know yet. You are only just becoming stable. We’ll know more tomorrow.”
One more thing. “I’m . . . hungry.”
Curse him; he misunderstood. “Well that’s a good sign” was all he said.
“Please.” My word was a little stronger and the effort made me cough. I reached out my one free arm and found him. I pulled him as close as my pain would allow. “I . . . need . . . food . . . now.” I thought the words were going to be the death of me. I started to cough, and god that hurt.
“Calm down now,” said the man, trying to placate me. I held him. I was shaking with the pain in my chest from trying not to cough, the pain in my throat that had uttered too many words and the gnawing hunger in my belly that was eating my bruised and abused insides out.
I vaguely remember him pulling at my hand, but I don’t remember letting go.